Playoff Sunday is here. A day after the Saints put up video game numbers again, and the Texans got their first playoff win in the franchise’s history, the Giants/Falcons and the Tebows/Steelers wrap up Wild Card Weekend. Paul Schwartz of the Post says that the Giants must avoid the early exit. Mike Vaccaro of the Post laments the lousiness of losing. Steve Serby of the Post says its time for Eli Manning to direct a home victory. Mike Lupica of the Daily News says it is time to find out how good this Giant team is. Ralph Vacchiano of the Daily News says that the pass rush is coming together just in time. Ebenezer Samuel of the Daily News says that the two headed monster of Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz gives Eli Manning options to keep drives going. Harvey Araton of the New York Times says that David Tyree and Victor Cruz have more in common than just being New Jersey Natives. Bill Pennington of the New York Times writes a very intriguing article about the premise of captains as it relates to the OTHER New York Team. The one that wears blue. Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal Constitution talks up the terrible sports town that doesn’t sell out its home playoff game 30 hours before kickoff. D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC says that Matt Ryan is focused on the present and not his 0-2 playoff past. Finally Brad Biggs of Yahoo Sports reports that Victor Cruz turned down a chance to be on the next season of Dancing with the Stars.
Yes its finally Sunday morning. Time for the playoffs to begin and time for the talking to finally end. A week long wait has been worth it. From dirtbags to dirty bird, the Falcons have the better record but most people are predicting the Giants come out victorious. I am staying away from the prediction business. I’m staying away from the 2007 comparisons though admittedly I’m not doing as good a job on the second one. I’m not here to say one team is better than the other because both do certain things better than the other. The Falcon running game is better than the Giants. The Giants passing game is better than the Falcon passing game. The Giant front four is better than the Falcon front four but remember those units arent facing each other. How does the Falcon run game do against the front four of the the Giants? Because if Michael Turner continuously gets into the second area, the Giants will be in trouble. How will the Falcons receivers cut their routes short if the Giant pass rush is constantly in Matt Ryan’s face? How will the Giants run game do against the front four of the Falcons? The Falcons linebackers are good. I’ve been Curtis Lofton praise in their direction but let’s just say that Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradsahw are running well. The Giants are no longer a run first team. They want to pass so the better the run game does, the better the passing game will do because they want to throw the football down the field and the Giants will depend on the guys to get down the field.
IF Mario Manningham has a big day I don’t think the Giants can win because that means that Victor Cruz is being covered well and Hakeem Nicks too. But how can you double both those guys without leaving one on ones to Manningham and Ballard and Barden? One of those guys have to step up today. Who will it be?
If you read one of those articles, read Bill Pennington’s article about how the Giants pick their captains and it will tell you everything you need to know about how the Jets were run this year and how poorly they were run at that.
The Knicks looked like the Knicks we had all hoped when the season started. The Knicks got to .500 with a dominating 103-80 victory over the hapless Detroit Pistons. Anthony Reiber of Newsday said despite it being the rookie Iman Shumpert’s first career start, it was the old timer Mike Bibby who pointed the Knicks to victory. Kristie Ackert of Daily News said that it was all about Shump’s effort last night as was told to her by coach Mike D’Antoni. Marc Berman of the Post says that the Knicks were helped by a sore Carmelo, but a more pass happy Melo and Stat. Perry Farrell (no not the Giants defensive coordinator) of the Detroit Free Press says that communication was to blame for yet another Piston blowout loss.
So much to love about this victory. The Knicks looked like a team that was a juggernaut. They had so many free lanes on defense and they had so many opportunities to get open looks in the paint. BUT the biggest plus about last night’s victory was the hustle. The rebounding. The Knicks were a force on the rebounding front by outbounding the Pistons 48-41. Their effort was so welcoming to see them just outwork the PIstons. THIS is what the Knicks need to do. In games where they can exploit the paint the Knicks should be posting up on the regular and having guys cut at all times.
Now, people want to talk about Iman Shumpert. His play was pretty exciting but he was limited. What i saw more was his ability to slash and cut through double teams and traps. He had the speed to break through before they could apply the pressure and he cut to the rim which is what the Knicks should always do. That’s when Amar’e gets to cut to the rim and get easy poitns on dunks or lay ins. That’s what Tyson can tap in points. Easy points should ALWAYS be the rule when they face teams they can exploit.
Landry Fields played with more confidence as well. I love when he’s cutting around the rim. I love when he’s running through screens. When he’s going for offensive rebounds. That’s the Landry that made a name for himself last year. That’s the guy that the Knicks need on a nightly basis. Josh Harrelson’s energy and his presence on the defensive end is probably ten times more than I or any Knick fan could’ve hoped. He’s intelligent and the Knicks have lacked intelligence for quite some time. He’s Jared Jeffries with a jump shot and some sort of offensive identity. Jeffries for all his deficieinces brings toughness on defense and size on the rebounding front. He’s the guy that you need in your rotation and winning games without him is big because its almost gravy.
Now, its time for payback against the Bobcats Monday night at the Garden!