Die-hard Bills fans got a full dose of Rex Ryan last week and it seemed to be a match made in heaven, desperate fans and a new coach with unlimited bravado.
Ryan was full of bluster at his unveiling and he delivered in true Rex Ryan overkill, promising an end to the 15-year playoff drought and much more, a rousing speech that will surely sell tickets for a franchise that hasn’t been in a playoff game this century.
Meanwhile, the best teams still alive in the NFL playoffs were delivering for their fans and trying to win one more game to make it to the Super Bowl on Feb. 1 in Glendale, Ariz.
At the end of the day, there are two teams still standing, the defending champion Seattle Seahawks who came off the floor to eliminate the Green Bay Packers, 28 -22, after trailing by 16 points, and the smooth as silk New England Patriots who ran all over defenseless Indianapolis and made all-world quarterback Andrew Luck look like he belonged in a Buffalo uniform.
Now it will be the Seahawks and their great defense against Tom Brady, perhaps the best quarterback to ever play the game, and the rest of the New England Patriots who cruised to the big game by overwhelming Luck and the Colts, 45 – 7, in a one-sided contest from the start.
Bill Belichick’s Patriots used a bone-crushing ground game featuring 148 yards from LeGarrette Blount to destroy the Colts, needing only 226 yards from Brady through the air to complete the task.
On the other hand, It was no walk in the park for the Seahawks who trailed early and late against the Packers, getting 157 yards from the beast, Marshawn Lynch, and a successful onside kick that led to the winning 35-yard touchdown pass in overtime from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse, a combination that had not clicked all day (4 interceptions). But Wilson is warrior and never quits.
He’s the kind of quarterback the Bills need to deliver on Rex Ryan’s promises to end the playoff drought but his kind don’t come along very often and the Bills have been adept at not connecting on draft day when it comes to quarterbacks (the list is too long to recount here).
But maybe Rex Ryan will find the answer somehow. He has the mouth to make it interesting even though his head coaching record is 46 and 50. As I have said, he’ll be a colorful sideline presence for the dull Bills, and maybe he’ll find a quarterback to take the team to the playoffs. But none are in sight.
In the meantime, Ryan has done enough with his big talk to ensure ticket sales for the coming season and the rest of us can look forward to the Patriots and the Seahawks on Feb. 1 to see if Brady can win a fourth ring with a little help from his friends like Rob Gronkowski and Darrelle Revis.
But while it looks like the Pats have too much firepower for even the great Seattle defense, it would be unwise to write off the Seahawks after the way they came back against the Packers to win their chance to repeat as Super Bowl champions. The Patriots can’t make mistakes like Green Bay did, and I don’t expect they will.
I like the Patriots in a game that I think will be fairly close. But while Wilson is a warrior at quarterback for the Seahawks and Lynch is a punishing runner, the Patriots have tricky Belichick on the sidelines (his sixth Super Bowl), unstoppable Rob Gronkowski at tight end, and of course the great Tom Brady behind center. I’m going with the Patriots, 28 to 14.