Wild Card weekend was truly wild in the NFL. Last weekend saw three lower seeds win on the road, victories that had to send a warning that this week’s divisional round could be ripe for more upsets.
The biggest surprise had to be the Philadelphia Eagles going into Chicago and advancing. Advancing with their backup quarterback, Nick Foles. You remember Foles, right? The same Nick Foles who replaced injured Carson Wentz last year and guided the Eagles to a Super Bowl victory. Well, he is back at it again as Wentz is out again with an injury. Next up for Philly is New Orleans at New Orleans. The Saints blew the Eagles out, 48-7, in the Big Easy back in November. Foles did not play in that one so we will see what happens this time around.
The Los Angeles Chargers were another road team that came out victorious. The Chargers totally shut down the Baltimore Ravens and will travel to New England this week. Advancing could be a daunting task for Los Angeles as the Patriots have not lost a playoff game at home over the past six years.
The third team to win on the road is the team that no one should want to play. The Indianapolis Colts have won 10 of their last 11 games and are coming off a convincing 21-7 win over the Houston Texans. Next up for Indy is a trip to the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs and likely MVP, quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The Colts have a pretty good quarterback of their own in Andrew Luck. If the game comes down to defense, the Colts could make if 11 of 12 as they have the best defense of the remaining eight teams. They also have a running game that could keep Mahomes off the field. Indy ran for 200 yards on 35 carries in Houston.
Eagles’ Nick Foles
Dallas was the lone favorite to win last week. The Cowboys will travel to Los Angeles this week to meet the Rams. Dallas relies heavily on runningback Zeke Elliott. The NFL’s leading rusher carried the Cowboys to a 24-22 victory over Seattle. I think Elliott will find yards harder to get this week.
My winners this weekend are New Orleans and the Rams in the NFC. I like Indy and the Chargers in the AFC.
Clemson Captures National Title
Clemson, not Alabama, has won two of the last three national championships in football. The Tigers won this year’s title in convincing fashion, crushing No. 1 Alabama by a 44-16 count.
Prior to Monday night, the Crimson Tide were the lone program mentioned as a dynasty. Those who think that way now have to add Clemson to the dynasty list. And as I mentioned last week in these pages, both will likely return to the playoffs again next year.
All Clemson lacked last year to repeat was a quarterback. The Tigers now have one as true freshman Trevor Lawrence sliced and diced the Alabama defense with a combination of long and short passes. Lawrence became the first true freshman quarterback to start and win a national title game since Oklahoma’s Jamelle Holieway in 1986.
Lawrence, who turned 19 in October, threw for 347 yards and three scores against Bama. He will return with fellow freshman, wideout Justyn Ross, who caught six passes for 153 yards and a touchdown in the title game.
In other words, the future looks extremely bright for a program that head coach Dabo Sweeney has built in 10 short years. And I say that knowing that much of the defense that held Alabama, one of the nation’s most explosive offenses, scoreless over the last 44:18 of the game will be returning in 2019.
Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence