Big Ben New Year’s Special: Giants and Jets Pick Up Pieces, Exciting Wild Card Games on Tap

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TIMES SQUARE, NYC – Happy New Year! Another NFL season is in the books and we have four good games in the Wild Card round. There are a few teams in there that could definitely make a run. Let’s dig in.

The Pats have a plan to stop Lamar Jackson

Bouncing Around

The Steelers are surely better than some playoff teams, but you can’t complain if you lost to the Raiders.

As mediocre as the Patriots have been, they still found a way to get a first round bye. Thanks AFC East! It’s not hard to see them winning a home playoff game and then finding a way to sneak by the Chiefs. I’d rather let The Rock repeatedly smash a car door on my pinkie over seeing the Pats in another Super Bowl.

Teddy Bridgewater didn’t exactly lock down a big free agent contract with that performance on Sunday. And who the hell is Kyle Allen?

Put this man in the Pro Bowl!

The best thing the NFL did was get rid of the stupid control the ball through the ground catch rule. Man, that sucked.

Gang Green

The Jets should fire Mike Maccagnan too. There’s been way too much Christian Hackenberg and not enough Jamal Adams. Even Mel Kiper sometimes gets it right with picks in the top 10 but Maccag hasn’t found much value in the later rounds. And he hasn’t brought in many decent free agents.

But because of Sam Darnold, he’ll probably get another draft. That’s bad news for Jets’ fans. They should bring in a new GM to hire a new coach and build the team around Sam. Instead, they’ll fire Maccagnan next year and the new coach will be hamstrung because he’s not the new GM’s “guy.”

Got me flailing like Wile E

Big Blue

It hurt to see that replay and realize that little Beasley pr!ck accidentally banged his knee in the end zone. But in hindsight, a win wouldn’t have been worth the draft pick spots.

I question the late game play-calling by the Giants in this one as well. The kickoff return got them near mid field, they didn’t need too many yards to get in range for Aldrick Ro$a$. They had plenty of time and time outs. Why not drop the Saq on them and start with something safe – like a screen or even a draw? Get some positive yards and get the thing moving up-field. Instead, four incomplete passes, none to Saq. Maybe they realized at that point they’d be better off losing the game.

Big Blue’s secret weapon

Pat Shurmur went big on his support Eli Manning. The coach knows Eli might be his best option next season, so this made sense. Oregon’s Justin Hebert announced he’s staying for his senior year, so the draft options for a QB are even more limited.

On the bright side, the Giants scored 123 more points than they did a season ago. The offense improved, in spite of a slow start and a fat zero against the Titans. Saquon Barkley has been as good as anyone could have hoped.

Could the Giants be playoff contenders next season with a good draft a few nice free agent signings? They do have some extra picks from Snacks and Eli Apple and the schedule doesn’t look too bad:

Home: Cowboys, Eagles, Redskins, Packers, Vikings, Bills, Dolphins, Cardinals

Away: Cowboys, Eagles, Redskins, Jets, Patriots, Lions, Bears, Buccaneers

Apart from the Bears and maybe the Pats, depending on what happens this off-season, there aren’t many scary ones on there.

But they do need an edge rusher or two, lots more OL help, and the QB of the future, for starters. This just in, a lot of teams need those things.

Do Bill and Co have enough tricks to get to the Super Bowl again?

One Massive Snub

Colts LB Darius Leonard did not make the Pro Bowl. Here are his stats compared to the two AFC inside linebackers who made it over him.

Leonard: Tackles 163, Sacks 7, Interceptions 2, Forced Fumbles 4, Passes Defensed 10.

Benardrick McKinney: Tackles 105, Sacks 1.5, Interceptions 1, Forced Fumbles 1, Passes Defensed 8.

CJ Mosley: Tackles 105, Sacks 0.5, Interceptions 1, Forced Fumbles 0, Passes Defensed 6.

He crushed them in every statistical category. This is a monumental injustice. Shouldn’t the league leader in tackles automatically make the Pro Bowl? Tackles are important. McKinney and Mosley should decline to go on principle.

Playoff Matchups

Colts at Texans

It looked bad for Andrew Luck when they were 1-5 and he was pulled on a Hail Mary for a stronger arm. But Luck has made it all the way back and the Colts have a shot to beat the Texans. They built from the trenches out and it has paid dividends. They keep Luck upright and the defense has turned it around quickly.

The Texans are solid across the board. The offense has the incomparable Deandre Hopkins, but lacks a bit of explosion without a threat on the other side. This offense is more dangerous when speedy Will Fuller is in the lineup.

Both of their previous matchups were decided by three points and this should be another close one.

Anything but this…

Seahawks at Cowboys

These two teams have been hella (do people still say that?) inconsistent. The Seahawks (not a real bird) struggled against the lowly Cardinals (real bird). The Cowboys looked like legit contenders against the Saints, and then stunk it up against the Colts.

I liked how the Cowboys left in their starters and went for the win. They channeled the 2007 Giants, who took out the Patriots in the Super Bowl after playing them tight in the meaningless season finale. There’s something to be said for going for the win and heading into the playoffs on a high note.

Chargers at Ravens

The Chargers are contenders according to many, but they’ll have to do it the hard way with three road wins. And to start, they’ll have to go across the country to face the red hot Ravens. It’s not hard to picture Phil Rivers struggling in this one.

The Ravens would be undefeated with Lamar Jackson if not for a ridiculous sidearm throw by Patrick Mahomes on fourth down. Yet they came within a few more Baker Mayfield completions of missing the playoffs entirely. Jackson looks like the Road Runner when he accelerates, leaving a bunch of Wile E Coyotes in the dust. His throwing is improving, but he’s probably not the best guy if you’re playing catchup. Still, this team can beat anyone.

Will Khalil and the Bears make some noise?

Eagles at the Bears

Another Eagles Patriots Super Bowl would push me to the CFL. Go Redblacks! The Bears are a force and the Eagles with have their hands full. I think the Bears will win this one, but Doug Pederson is the master of scheming around his team’s deficiencies.

Making the playoffs with that secondary was an accomplishment. And they couldn’t have done it without the Bears beating the Vikings! We’ll see if they can thank them on Sunday.

The Byes

None of the bye teams, Saints, Chiefs, Rams, and Pats, seem to be peaking at the right time. The Saints and Chiefs will be tough at home, but their offenses have slowed a bit.

The Rams are staring at the Bears, who exposed them badly, if the Bears get by the Eagles.

The Pats will have a big advantage in Foxborough, but they don’t have the weapons of past years. The smoke, mirrors, video cameras, and deflating machines may not be enough. They’ll have to dig deep into the bag of tricks.

Thanks for reading. Come back tomorrow for Angry Ward, who made a new year’s resolution not to use the words “whore” or “emporium.” Follow us on Twitter at @BenWhit8, @MeetTheMatts, @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.

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About the Author ()

Ben Whitney comes from journalistic stock. Aside from his brothers, rumor has that his great-great grandfather was the youngest brother of Eli Whitney and covered the earliest "rounders" games. Big Ben is also another New York Rugby Club player/pal of Different Matt, Short Matt and Junoir Blaber. He likes film noir discussions, has twin girls and took up ice hockey after retiring from rugby.

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