Once again, the playoffs show they are anything but predictable.
Both #5 and #6 seeds in the AFC advanced; this after many people questioned whether or not both were "good" enough to even belong in the playoffs. Both the Jets and Ravens were 9-7, and, in the Jets' case, needed significant help to even make the playoffs. However, as both teams clearly have shown in their dominant wins over two division winners, they very much belong in the playoffs.
This is the beauty of playoff football. All the records, stats, division titles, and the like mean nothing when the game starts. Win and advance. There are no calculations on "quality of opponent win percentage" or "best of seven" crap that allows a team on the ropes to recover. The philosophy is simple: If you were good enough to win X number of games as well as your division, you should be good enough to beat another playoff team in your house.
While nerve-racking, playoff football is as good as it gets. I cite last nights Packers v. Cardinals game as evidence.
Interesting to point out that of the four remaining AFC teams, only the Colts run a 4-3 Tampa-2 style defense. However, if you watched the Packers v. Cardinals game last night, which featured two 3-4 style defensive teams give up over 1,000 yards of total offense and 96 points, the notion that a 3-4 defense is "better" than a 4-3 is pretty silly. The Patriots also run a 3-4 defense, and got run over by the Ravens in Foxboro.
It is also interesting to point out that the Patriots did not truly "rest starters" prior to playing the Ravens. Despite playing through the regular season, in the playoffs they seemed rusty, injured, and over-matched. The Eagles did not rest starters heading into the post-season, and they got waxed as well. Meanwhile, the Cardinals shut it down in Week Seventeen and got destroyed by the Packers. Now, they are in the Division Round after winning a thriller against them despite blowing a 31-10 lead in the second half.
There is no one formula for playoff success. However, I will say that this upcoming playoff game between the Ravens and Colts is one that is packed a tremendous amount of pressure on the Colts. The arrogance of Bill Polian after the Week Sixteen Jets game will put all eyes on the Colts to see if they win against the Ravens.
It doesn't matter how well they play. The. Colts. Must. Win.
If they don't, Bill Polian's reputation will indeed be tarnished, and the guy will never be able to show his face in public in Indiana ever again unless he enjoys egg dripping down his forehead. The excuse the team used for benching starters in a meaningful game was so the team would win in the post-season. Now, Polian and the Colts have to deliver or they will lose the trust of their fanbase. It is literally that simple.
I wish it didn't have to be this way, but this is the corner Polian has painted the club into with his crass remarks to fans and his disdain for anyone who dares to question his line of thinking. That said, there is no better group of players who can deliver despite Polian's attempts to create unnecessary distractions. This is a tight knit, focused, hungry, and talented group of Colts players.
If anyone can deliver, it's them.