Sometimes it's hard to write articles like this because you're at a crossroads
In other words, you can approach the piece in one of two ways: you can either show bias towards your favorite team, or behave like a professional sportswriter and be impartial.
Thus, the fan in will find the following article quite difficult to write because I'm a Patriots fan, but the professional in me must look beyond that and give an honest but unbiased assessment of the second round of the NFL playoffs.
It's what both my readers and this website have asked and expected of me, and it's what I believe in my heart is the right thing to do.
On we go.
Five Things That Impressed Me About Divisional Playoff Weekend
1. The New York Jets
Say what you want about Rex Ryan and his band of tough talking bad boys.
They may be bad for football, they may be setting a poor example of sportsmanship to the youth of America, and they may be tiring to listen to.
But when the chips are down, they know how to come through.
The defense absolutely stymied Tom Brady, covering his receivers as tight as a warm blanket on a cold day.
And Mark Sanchez wasn't spectacular, but he able to make the big throws when it counted, such as the deep pass to Jericho Cotchery in the third quarter, and the touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes on the same drive.
In short, they're brash, they're rude and their outspoken, but they don't care what you think, and they have the confidence to come through when the odds are stacked against then.
2. Aaron Rodgers
For those who still believe that Aaron Rodgers will never be able to equal or pass the legacy of Brett Favre I have three words for you; open your eyes.
Rogers was able to take his six-seeded offense into a hostile dome that was probably as loud as an airport runway, and torch the Falcons defense for 366 yards and three touchdowns.
It all amounted to a 48-21 annihilation that few saw coming, and the greatest statistical performance by any Packer quarterback ever in the postseason.
Now, the Packers are brimming with confidence as they head to Chicago with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
However, Rodgers wasn't the only one that effectively took the wind out of the Falcons sails.
3. Tramon Williams
Williams is now officially this year's version of the Saints Tracy Porter in that he's the defensive player that few have heard of outside of his home city that can kill the opposition's momentum by making an impact play.
Last week, he intercepted Michael Vick, and ended the Eagles season.
This week, he killed any edge the Falcons may have had by taking a Matt Ryan pass 70 yards for a score to end the first half.
Later on, he added another pick just for good measure.
Can he work his magic against Jay Cutler next week?
4. Antonio Brown
While we're on the subject of virtual unknowns who made impact plays this weekend, allow me to familiarize you with the Steelers rookie wide receiver.
All he did was make the play of the year for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
When Ben Roethlisberger chose to go for broke on 3rd-and-19 to save the Pittsburgh season, Brown came through by catching a 58-yard bomb that help set up the go-ahead score.
It wasn't the immaculate reception, but if this season ends with a title, that play will be fondly remembered in the Steel city for years to come.
5. Greg Olson
I know Jay Cutler both ran and passed for two touchdowns on Sunday, but the contributions of the Bears tight end should not be forgotten.
Olson snagged three balls for 113 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. None was bigger than a 58-yard catch that opened the Bears scoring, and served notice to the Seahawks that this was going to be no walk in the park.
Five Things That Depressed Me About Divisional Playoffs Weekend
1. Tom Brady
In all my years watching Tom Brady, with the possible exception of Super Bowl 42, I have never seen him look as helpless as he did Sunday night.
Good field vision can only get you so far. Brady looked like a deer in the headlights as he frantically searched for someone to throw to on several occasions.
It appears that Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine have found the antidote to stop Brady: take away his short game expect for minimal gains, use tight man-to-man coverage on all options, and generate a ferocious pass rush.
The Jets defensive resulted in Brady getting sacked five times and never developing a consistent rhythm in the pocket.
Great quarterbacks and their legacies are defined by what they've accomplished, but sooner or later, things happen that make you dismiss past accomplishments and focus on what is occurring in the here and now.
I'm not suggesting that Brady is washed up or incapable of leading the Patriots to glory, but judging from his performances in the playoffs in the last couple years, I think that his best days may be behind him.
In short, I feel the torch has been to a new generation of greatness, and the Jets may be at the forefront of it.
2. Patrick Chung
Whether it was Chung or Bill Belichick who called for the fake punt at the end of the first half, it was an ill-fated decision because Chung fumbled the snap and the Jets had both a short field and enough time to score a touchdown.
Their mission was accomplished since Mark Sanchez found Braylon Edwards in the end zone to give New York 14-3 lead.
3. TJ Houshmandzedeh.
Last week I spoke at length about how impressed I was over Joe Flacco's ability to be able to put the ball exactly where it needs to be.
On Saturday, with the Ravens season on the line, he was able to do just that, but unfortunately for him, TJ Houshmandzedeh dropped the pass and sent the Ravens packing.
What really stings about this though is that the Ravens got Houshmandzedeh for his potential big play ability, and when the time arose for him to showcase it, he failed to.
4. John Carlson's Injury
The Seahawks talented tight end was lost to injury on their first offensive drive.
Because the Seahawks favor a two tight end formation when they run the ball, Carlson's injury took away any chance they had of running the ball effectively, since they only had one other active tight end.
Since the running attack was a key facet of the win over New Orleans, the effect of this injury was devastating to a offense that was looking to move the ball well.
5. Eric Weems
The Falcons pro-bowl kick returner provided a spark by returning a kick 102 yards for a touchdown and never really being threatened on the play by the Packer special teams unit.
He also averaged over 32 yards per return for the evening.
It's too bad for him that the Tramond Williams's pick-six occurred shortly after Weems's electrifying return, since that play killed any momentum Atlanta had gained for the rest of the evening.
1. Blake Griffin may be the best thing to happen to the Clippers since Kobe Bryant thinking about signing there seven years ago.
2. It's a bit, cliched, and I was disappointed that Stacy Keach's character is a little too soft, but the new FX series Lights Out was very entertaining.
3. Did you know that Christina Green, the 9-year-old girl who was tragically kill in the shootings in Tucson last week, is the granddaughter of former Phillies, Yankees, and Mets manager Dallas Green?
4. 45 million for a setup man? I think it's a good deal, because they're are no guarantees that Mariano Rivera will be healthy enough for a full season at his age.
5. One reader told me last week that they've lost sleep over the quizzes on Sporcle.com. It's not enough for me to lose sleep over, but I do think about what I could have said in bed.
6. Mornings won't be the same without Regis Philbin gloating or complaining about his beloved New York teams.
7. I'd be remiss if I didn't address the antics of the Jets because some readers would like to know my opinion on that.
I find the Jets antics to be over the top and unprofessional. I think they represent a style of sportsmanship that most youth sports coaches would frown down upon if such tactics were used in their leagues.
It is okay for you for you to express dislike for a opponent or to doubt their abilities. It is not okay for athletes or coaches to get personal as Antonio Cromartie did last week by using an expletive to refer to Tom Brady.
I also found Braylon Edwards's cartwheel to be uncalled as it served to just rub it in to the Patriots and their fans.
This is what the Jets stand for, and no fine or threat of a suspension is going to change who they are. They are a team of bad boys, outcasts, and loud mouths who don't care who they offend or annoy.
And yet, there's something admirable about that.
Rex Ryan was brought to New York to make a team that was tired of being pushed around by the Patriots relevant again, and to instill confidence in an organization where it was sorely lacking.
While his methods may be rude and unethical, he has struck a chord with both fans and detractors.
Hence, by being a villain that fans love to hate, as well as being bringing success, to New York, Ryan has made football fun for all parties involved.
Detractors hope he and his team fail miserably, and admirers will want them to keep at.
It's great theater nonetheless.
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