1. Defense can still will championships.
In a pass happy, offensive driven league, it was great to see that defense can still win games in the NFL. With so many pass happy offenses and record breaking offensive performances, many die-hard, old-school NFL fans, were worried that hard-nosed football was a thing of the past. This weekend, however, defense ruled the divisional championship games. The Ravens showed, even though they are aging, that Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and company can still get it done and make key plays to save their team. Aside for the offensive flurry the last six minutes of the game, the 49ers defense dominated the prolific Saints offense. The Giants illustrated that defensive rankings can be misleading (they are ranked 27th in the NFL for total defense) and that they could make even one of the best offensive teams in the league look bad. And the Patriots were solid defensively all game, crushing any hopes that Tebow could pull out another miracle for his team.
2. Having a physical WR/TE on offense makes that quarterback’s job a heck of a lot easier.
Gronkowski (Patriots), Davis (49ers), Boldin (Ravens), and Nicks (Giants) all proved that a physical receiver who can make the tough catch, makes any quarterback’s job a lot easier. Each of these players came up huge for their respective teams this weekend with their physical, hard-nosed play, making key catches by fending off and beating defenders on multiple occasions. Those huge catches scored points or caused huge momentum swings which helped put their teams’ over the top this weekend.
3. Eli Manning is one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL.
At the beginning of the season, a lot of people scoffed at comments Eli Manning made in an interview on ESPN New York 1050. Eli stated rather emphatically that he was an elite quarterback in the NFL, up there with the ranks of Tom Brady. Well, Eli was right. Eli has shown especially in the latter part of the season, that he is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. His steady play down the stretch in key games against the Cowboys as well as both of his playoff performances prove that Eli is a legitimate quarterback, who should be respected and reckoned with in regards to the QB position in the NFL.
4. Turnovers will kill your chances to win any game, especially a playoff game.
With the exception of the Broncos, each of the losing teams this weekend had at least four turnovers. Both Brees and Yates threw multiple picks, with those passes being forced to well-defended receivers who were not open. The Packers on the other hand, were very sloppy with the ball. Rogers had his first fumble of the season along with an interception, and his receivers inexplicably dropped a number of passes, including one sure touchdown. The four losing teams this weekend combined to turn the ball over fourteen times which on any level, especially the NFL will usually send you home with an L.
Shana White is a blog contributor for Gold Star Games, a leading tailgate gear supplier.