Here’s what we know following the divisional round in the playoffs: a new Super Bowl champion will be crowned. Before shifting our attention to the AFC and NFC title games, let’s look back at 10 things we took away from the weekend, shall we?
1. 2011 is the year of the tight end. With Jimmy Graham, Ron Gronkowski and Vernon Davis having monster games, don’t be surprised if teams are rushing to equip their QBs with efficient tight ends next season.
2. Tim Tebow ends the season losing four of five games and looking pretty terrible in all of his losses. Believe it or not, the Broncos still don’t have an answer to their quarterback issue.
3. We’re not sure how they do it, but the Giants have this “start the season off on fire, suck during the middle portion, turn it on to squeak in the playoffs, then make a crazy ass run” blueprint down to a tee. We’re still upset Hakeem Nicks didn’t Lambeau Leap after Eli Manning’s Y.O.L.O. Hail Mary though. And their defensive front four is beyond amazing. How big of a luxury is that knowing you don’t have to blitz and still get pressure on the quarterback?
4. The entire game was amazing, but was that fourth quarter between the Niners and Saints not the most exciting football you’ve seen played in quite some time?
5. Is there anyone in the league who deserves a ring more than Ed Reed? If for nothing else other than sheer competitiveness, here’s to hoping the ball hawk can play in the AFC Championship game next week.
6. The post game jersey swap between Arian Foster and Ray Lewis was the epitome of dope.
7. With all the talk of the high-powered offenses this year, three of the remaining four teams in the playoffs are there mostly due to their defense down the stretch.
8. More so than anything, the lack of a running game killed the Saints. Brees was 40-63 as opposed to only 14 rushes.
9. Some will call him Trent Dilfer 2.0, but even with the league’s best defense, Alex Smith is turning his once-considered-bust career around one big play and one big win at a time. And yes, the play between Smith-Davis was the third “The Catch” in 49ers history following behind Joe Montana-Dwight Clark and Steve Young-Terrell Owens.
10. Here come those Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers debates all over again.
Bonus: The Tinsley slander this weekend was at the highest we’ve seen it since June of 2011. It’s one of those beautiful train wrecks you have to sit back and witness for yourself.