Each week during the NFL season, we take a look back at the week that was and take a crack at what it all means. Here's "Upon Further Review" for NFL Wild-Card weekend:
News: Andrew Luck is 18-2 in games decided by a touchdown or less after rallying the Indianapolis Colts from a 28-point deficit in the second half Saturday to defeat visiting Kansas City, 45-44.
Views: At some point, perhaps Saturday at New England, someone will take T.Y. Hilton away from Luck's targets, and then the uber-talented quarterback will really have to get creative. My source of amazement isn't how good Luck is now, but how great he might become. His recovery of Donald Brown's fumble and subsequent touchdown dive was a play for the ages. The Colts won their division easily because of the ineptitude of the other three franchises. Regular-season results often don't translate into playoff success, but Indianapolis did have signature road victories at San Francisco and Kansas City. The Colts also defeated the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos, the two most likely Super Bowl teams.
News: The Green Bay Packers are 3-5 in their past eight Lambeau Field playoff games after Sunday's 23-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Views: Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers is the popular whipping boy, but he didn't have much to work with after cornerback Sam Shields and linebacker Mike Neal went out early. The 49ers scored only two touchdowns, clear improvement from the 45-31 whipping they put on the Packers in last year's playoff encounter. Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy didn't have a great day calling plays. He opened the game with four consecutive Eddie Lacy runs, which a year ago would have suggested someone locked McCarthy in the locker room. But McCarthy didn't have Lacy on the field when the Packers reached the San Francisco 9 late in the game and had to settle for a field goal.
News: The Cincinnati Bengals still haven't won a playoff game since 1990 season after Sunday's 27-10 home loss to the San Diego Chargers.
Views: Give a ton of credit to the Chargers, who outplayed the Bengals in all aspects. Their active defense was particularly outstanding under defensive coordinator John Pagano, the younger brother of Colts coach Chuck Pagano. But just getting to the playoffs seems to be acceptable in Cincinnati under Marvin Lewis. The Bengals are 0-5 in the playoffs under Lewis, second in active NFL coaching tenure to New England's Bill Belichick. Quarterback Andy Dalton finally threw a touchdown pass but so far his most notable postseason achievement is getting his team into the playoffs in a third consecutive season to start a career. The first quarterback to do that was USC athletic director Pat Haden with the Los Angeles Rams (1976-78), followed by Dan Marino, Bernie Kosar and Joe Flacco. The difference is, they all won at least two games in those playoff runs.
News: The Tennessee Titans dump Coach Mike Munchak, a lifetime Titan/Oiler, on Saturday, perhaps hoping the news will be lost among the playoff fervor.
Views: Munchak, a Hall of Fame offensive lineman for the franchise, took the hit instead of firing assistant coaches to save his job, which reportedly would have included an extension if he jettisoned staff. They're all going to get dumped now, but you have to admire Munchak's loyalty to his assistants. The alternative always seems unsavory. When John Robinson coached the Los Angeles Rams and they eventually struggled, he fired the defensive staff that had got his team into the playoffs on a consistent basis when management made that edict in 1991. In a strange twist, the new Rams defensive coordinator was Jeff Fisher -- who coached the Titans for 17 years before being replaced by Munchak. I continue to hold Robinson in high regard, but that status slipped quite a bit that year -- which only forestalled the inevitable, as such moves usually do. Munchak should be the top candidate at his alma mater, Penn State. He has been in the NFL realm since 1982, but Jim Mora's success at UCLA should mean that's not a negative.
News: New Orleans gets the first road playoff victory in its 47-year history with a 26-24 win Saturday at Philadelphia.
Views: The Saints had been 0-5 in such games, 0-3 in the Drew Brees/Sean Payton era. So they've made an important first step, but Saturday at Seattle might be out of reach. The Seahawks won, 34-7, there over the Saints in the regular season. Philadelphia pretty much took tight end Jimmy Graham away from Brees and Seattle is even better stocked to do the same thing. Running back Mark Ingram did a nice job in place of injured Pierre Thomas, but good luck running against that Seahawks front.
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