Yesterday we expected one great game, and at least another very good game at night, with Tim Tebow giving a respectable showing. That latter half of that equation certainly didn’t happen, but it won’t stop us from continuing our Tebow infatuation until he takes a meaningful snap next fall.
Someone should ask LeBron James what he thinks of Tebow’s play last night. Inquiring minds need to know.
Today we expect a massive upset, and we expect the crippling injuries on a team that was once a Super Bowl contender to actually become crippling. Another glorious day of watching playoff football and moving very little is about to begin, so let’s kick things off with the usual reading about news, injuries, and other nonsense.
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (1 p.m. ET)
- Joe Flacco will have a little bit of extra motivation today, and it comes in shades of green. His rookie contract expires at the end of next season, and although he’s eager to get a new deal and a contract extension, he’s undoubtedly aware that his regular-season play hasn’t given the Ravens much incentive to sign off on a long-term commitment. That’s why as Jason La Canfora notes, today’s game starts a leverage play during the playoffs for Flacco.
- If Flacco plays poorly, at least he’ll still look like a bad ass while rocking a Fu-manchu. Please don’t be scared by the sight of several thousand other Fu-Manchus in the crowd today, as fans have been able to buy a fake Flacco stache, with all proceeds going to charity. There’s also a fantastic T-shirt available that says “God bless chu.”
- This game could become a defensive slugfest, with an unproven T.J. Yates leading one offense, and the inconsistent Flacco leading the other. The Big Lead’s Jason Lisk looked back on recent playoff matchups featuring offenses and defenses that were statistically similar to Houston and Baltimore, and what he found supported a popular hypothesis. In a snot-knocking contest, the home team has the advantage.
- The Battle Red Blog is aware that Arian Foster was contained the first time Houston played Baltimore back in Week 6, when he ran for just 49 yards on 15 carries. They’re also aware that Andre Johnson didn’t play in that game, and that last week in the exact same scenario against Cincinnati (a rematch against a team that played Houston without Johnson the first time around), Foster exploded. That’s more than enough reason for optimism today.
- The only major injury concerns in this game were on the Baltimore sideline with linebackers Brendon Ayanbadejo and Jameel McClain. They were both listed as questionable after practice Friday, but they didn’t land on today’s inactive list.
New York Giants at Green Bay Packers (4:30 p.m. ET)
- Just so everyone knows, “frozen tundra” is just a nickname that’s become etched into local folklore and colloquial language. The playing surface at Lambeau Field hasn’t actually been frozen in over 40 years.
- The back-shoulder throw isn’t a new innovation in the field of quarterbacking, and it’s an art that’s been around for at least two decades. But as Mike Garafolo tells us, the throw that’s nearly impossible to defend when executed properly faded away, and it’s been brought back to life by the two quarterbacks in this game.
- It just isn’t a Packers playoff game day without at least one story of a fan in Green Bay who’s so crazy it’s awesome. So let’s meet Christopher Handler, the fence painter who wears a foam bucket of paint with a piece of a picket fence (for safety purposes, that’s also foam) sticking out from either side that lights up with the flick of a switch.
- Outside of Green Bay, Mike McCarthy is still a fairly anonymous and quiet guy considering his position as head coach of the defending champs. As Bart Hubbuch writes, he’s cool with that.
- The Packers confirmed the rumor that’s been bouncing around for the past few days, officially stating that offensive coordinator Joe Philbin will be at his usual post for this afternoon’s game following the death of his son.