The beauty of the NFL season is that every weekend brings on new, exciting story lines. When the MLB playoffs near, that excitement grows.
Then, there are weekends like this past one, where the MLB playoffs (basically) started early.
Let's get into it.
We'll start with the MLB. The American League Wild Card race was riveting. With the Mariners, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Yankees all within 1 game of each other heading into the final day of the regular season, a four team tiebreak looked like a real possibility.
The Yankees lost their games on both Friday and Saturday. The Red Sox lost on Friday. The Mariners and Blue Jays both won on Friday and Saturday, setting up what could have been an epic and Chaotic final day of the regular season.
With the Red Sox and Yankees both pulling out wins on Sunday, however, the chaos was avoided. It was still fun, though. For the MLB, the playoffs started early.
The playoffs officially start tonight, when the Yankees take on the Red Sox in Boston.
Then, on Wednesday, the Cardinals (who recently won 17 straight games), take on the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
A Yankees - Red Sox wild card game, followed by a wild card game hosted in LA, had to be what the MLB was dreaming of when they implemented the two team wild card, right?
Key Players to Watch:
Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, JD Martinez
Cardinals: Adam Wainwright, Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt
And just like that, playoff baseball is back.
Rookie QB Watch:
Finally, a good weekend for the rookie QB’s. In fact, all of them saw the playing field for significant snaps, including Trey Lance, who replaced Jimmy Garoppolo after an injury.
Trevor Lawrence: Despite a loss in a close game to the Bengals, Lawrence played by far his best game as a pro. He was decisive with the football, showing more control of the offense.
Passing: 17/24, 204 YDS, 0 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: 8 CAR, 36 YDS, 1 TD
Zach Wilson: After (another) slow start to the game, Wilson and the Jets offense finally took off. Despite his one early interception, Wilson flashed everything that made him the number 2 pick in the draft. He made multiple explosive plays down the field, including two 50+ yard throws. Leading the Jets to a win was the cherry on top.
Passing: 21/34, 297 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT
Justin Fields: Mostly a game manager in this one, Fields wasn’t asked to do much. He did do enough, though. He (mostly) avoided turnovers after being spotted an early lead. The Bears running game was dominant in this one, so Fields just needed to not get in the way in order to lead them to his first win.
Passing: 11/17, 209 YDS, 0 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: 3 CAR, 9 YDS
Trey Lance: Despite the loss, Lance looked like the exciting player the Niners drafted him to be after replacing the injured Garoppolo in the second half. It’s obvious that he has electric ability. If Garoppolo is healthy, he will likely remain the starter. However, it was a good showing for Lance.
Passing: 9/18, 157 YDS, 2 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: 7 CAR, 41 YDS
Mac Jones: Jones, in a matchup with a former Patriots Quarterback named Tom Brady, looked about as good as he could have. In fact, an argument can be made that he outplayed his counterpart in this one. Despite his performance ending in a loss, Patriots fans have to be encouraged that he showed up for a huge game like this.
Passing: 31/40, 275 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT
Are the Cardinals staking their claim as the best team in the NFL? They dominated the Rams yesterday on the way t0 a 37-20 win. Kyler Murray played mistake-free football, and the defense forced two turnovers.
After two losses in a row, the Chiefs got back in the win column. The Patrick Mahomes - Tyreek Hill connection was in full force, as Hill had 11 catches for 185 yards and three touchdowns. Mahomes had 5 total touchdowns on the day.
Are the Dallas Cowboys the real deal? Dak Prescott looks like one of the best quarterback’s in football, as he threw another 4 touchdowns on the day. Zeke appears to be back with another strong performance - to the tune of 20 carries for 143 yards and a touchdown. And, most importantly, the defense has a pulse.