With the playoffs starting this week, I
decided to write this blog, highlighting each playoff team's strength (why they
are a threat) and how to beat them.
I'll start in the AFC.
Number One Seed- New England
Why they're a threat- The Patriots are a
threat simply because they can put up a ton of points. Brady is arguably the
league MVP and with a fantastic receiving corps, New England is a nightmare
matchup for any team starved of offense. New England has an opportunistic
defense that has made big plays when doubted this season and they boast one of
the kicker-punter combinations in the NFL. But, regardless, this team is going
as far as the offense, specifically quarterback Tom Brady takes them.
How to beat them- Jump on them early and
don't let up. The Patriots have fallen into early 21-0 and 17-0 leads in the
past two weeks, but rallied to comeback and win both weeks. The Patriots have
been suspect to slow starts all season, especially in losses against Pittsburgh
and the Giants. To beat the Patriots, you must jump on them early and avoid
turnovers that can let Brady and Co. back in the game. Once you can get that
early lead, you can then hold the ball against an extremely weak run defense
that was gorged recently by Washington, Miami, and others.
Number Two Seed- Baltimore Ravens
Why they're a threat- The Ravens are a
threat because of their offensive balance and dominant defense. The Ravens play
a smashmouth style and often wear teams out throughout their games. Led by a
veteran defensive stars Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs the Ravens are
physical team who will benefit a lot from the rest they will have during their
week off that they earned by being the AFC's #2 seed.
How to beat them- Load the box. To beat the
Ravens, you need to load the box and stop Ray Rice at all costs. This offense
is only successful when it has balance and isn't relying to heavily on Rice.
Joe Flacco is not a great quarterback and when playing the Ravens, your best
bet is to force him to beat you. If you can shut down Rice that way, then you
will force Flacco to throw and that is exactly what the Ravens don't want.
Number Three Seed- Houston Texans
Why they're a threat- The Texans Super Bowl
aspirations took a serious hit when they lost starting quarterback Matt Schaub
and backup Matt Leinart for the season due to injury. The Texans are a threat,
however, because they have arguably the best running back tandem in the entire
NFL. The Texans can run the ball extremely well, even against the league's best
defenses. They have a much improved defense this season, and will look to play
low scoring games in the playoffs.
How to beat them- Again, load the box. The
Texans are a team that will be relying way too much on their running back this
postseason. With starter TJ Yates injured, Houston has no idea who will be
starting at quarterback for them this week at home against the Bengals. That
said, they will turn to Foster and Tate to carry their offense, even when
rookie Yates returns. If a team can force Yates, Delhomme, Garcia, or whoever
starts for the Texans to throw a lot, Houston will be in serious trouble.
Number Four Seed- Denver Broncos
Why they're a threat- Denver is a threat
because of their ability to hold the ball and their terrific defense. With
McGahee, Ball, and Tebow, Denver has held the ball for long periods of time
this season. If they can control the clock, and get a low scoring game, then
they are a very dangerous team. Their defense can shut down the league's elite
offenses and their pass rush is a nightmare for quarterbacks.
How to beat them- Force Tebow to throw down
the field. Against Denver, if you can put up early points and force quarterback
Tim Tebow to throw down the field, you will be in good shape. Tebow has shown
an inability the last few weeks to protect the football and throw down the
field, especially when behind. If a team can force and capitalize on turnovers,
thus putting Denver in a hole, then the Broncos will be KO'ed.
Number Five Seed- Pittsburgh
Why they're a threat- The Steelers are
quite possibly the most complete team the AFC has to offer. With a balanced
offense and the league's number one overall defense, the Steelers have the
veteran leadership, depth, and quarterback play to make a serious run at the
Super Bowl. They also have a bevy of talented receivers and matchup well with
New England's poor secondary.
How to beat them- Get to Roethlisberger.
Big Ben has been banged up the last few weeks with a sprained ankle and if
teams can get pressure on him, and hit him every chance they get, it will go a
long way towards stopping the Pittsburgh offense. With the loss of running back
to a torn ACL, Pittsburgh will be relying heavily on Roethlisberger to carry
them through the postseason, he can't do that from his back.
Number Six Seed- Cincinnati Bengals
Why they're a threat- The Bengals are a
stingy defensive team with an young, but inexperienced offense. The Bengals
will have to rely heavily on their 7th ranked defense against the AFC's best
offenses, like New England and Pittsburgh, if they are to make a cinderella run
to the Super Bowl.
How to beat them- Pick on the rookies and
capitalize on their mistakes. The Bengals start rookies at WR and QB, in AJ
Green and Andy Dalton, and they are bound to make mistakes in their first
playoff go-round. To beat them, you must capitalize on those few mistakes this
team does make and turn them into points. This defense will not give you much,
so it is crucial that you take all the points you can get and take advantage of
Now to the NFC.
Number One Seed- Green Bay Packers
Why they're a threat- If their 15-1 record
is not enough of a reason, then the Packers are a threat because they have
depth and talent throughout their lineup. Led by star quarterback, Aaron
Rodgers, the Packers will look to defend their Super Bowl title that they won
last season. The Packers are the NFL's deepest team and with their home field
advantage, the NFC playoffs go through Green Bay.
How to beat them- Run the football. To beat
the Packers, you must follow to blueprint the Chiefs laid out. If you can run
the ball on them, and work in play action, then you can take advantage of their
weak defense and keep the ball away from Rodgers. You can't get in a shootout
with them, because Rodgers and Co. will eventually win.
Number Two Seed- San Francisco 49ers
Why they're a threat- The 49ers are a
threat because they are turnover free and you cannot run on their defense. The
49ers struggle to put the ball in the end zone, but they do rarely turn the
ball over and have allowed more than 23 points just twice this season. The
49ers will keep games low scoring and take advantage of their opponents
How to beat them- Get them in a shootout.
The 49ers were average against the pass this season, and if you can get them in
a shootout, your chances are pretty good. San Francisco struggles throwing the
ball and will struggle if they have to score a lot of points this postseason.
Number Three Seed- New Orleans Saints
Why they're a threat- The Saints are a
threat because they have the most prolific passing offense in the history of
the NFL. Quarterback Drew Brees shattered the record previously held by former
NFL great Dan Marino, of passing yards in a season. This offense was rarely
shut down this season, as Brees threw for 300 yards in 13 of New Orleans' 16
games this season. The defense gives up a lot of yards, but were in the top
half of the NFL in scoring defense.
How to beat them- Keep the ball away from
Brees. The Saints give up a ton of yards on the ground and are susceptible to
long drives against them. If a team can hold the ball for much of the game, and
keep Drew Brees and the Saints offense on the sidelines, they can knock off the
Number Four Seed- New York Giants
Why they're a threat- The Giants are a
threat because they have a ferocious pass rush that can slow down the aerial
attacks of the Packers, Saints, and Lions. They have a veteran, Super Bowl
winning quarterback, and a defense that, while inconsistent, can make big
How to beat them- Get your playmakers out
in space and shut down Victor Cruz. The Giants defense does not have good
overall speed and if you can get your playmakers the ball in space, they can
put up big numbers against the Giants. On offense the Giants will try to get
the ball to Cruz. Hakeem Nicks hasn't had a great year, but Cruz is the most
important player on this offense and if he goes off, the Giants could upset any
of the top seeds.
Number Five Seed- Atlanta Falcons
Why they're a threat- The Falcons are a
threat because they have balance on both sides of the ball. They can run the
ball with running back Michael Turner, and have the ability to stretch the
field with wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones. John Abraham leads a
defense that ranked 10th in the NFL in takeaways.
How to beat them- Throw the ball. The Falcons have proven to
be very weak against the pass and have been torched multiple times this season
through the air. Quarterbacks can get in a rhythm against their secondary and
if yours can do that, you can beat the Falcons.
Number Six Seed- Detroit Lions
Why they're a threat- The Lions are dangerous to any team
because they can score in bunches. Their high powered offense, led by
quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson, the Lions put up
41 on the number one seeded Packers. Their secondary is weak, but the Lions
make up for it by scoring a lot.
How to beat them- You beat the Lions by beating them deep.
Their secondary is very weak and often gets burned. You can score a lot of
points against this team, the key afterwords is stopping their offense a few
times. Throw all day and capitalize on
the few mistakes Stafford does make.