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Payne's Perspective: Playoff Beast Mode

Kevin Payne

Kevin has worked for Rotowire just under a decade and has covered basketball, baseball and football. A glutton for punishment, he roots for his hometown Bills, Sabres and the New York Yankees. He hosts the RotoWire SiriusXM show every Wednesday and Friday and you can follow him on Twitter @KCPayne26.

Random thoughts on the wild-card weekend parade ...

Cincinnati at Houston

I'm not sure Andy Dalton is ever going to be more than a league-average quarterback. Too many of his throws were off - granted some should have been caught - but on a few deep balls to A.J. Green the throws were clearly off. Had two of those throws been on the money, they easily would have been touchdowns. Neither quarterback threw a touchdown but each threw a bad interception in their half of the field.

Speaking of A.J. Green, it was odd he wasn't even targeted until the third quarter, and on that drive he was targeted three times in a row. Green finished the day with five catches for 80 yards, and his counterpart Andre Johnson finished with four catches for 62 yards. Owen Daniels totaled a game-high 91 yards on nine receptions, exploiting the lack of coverage the Bengals had over the middle.

Marvin Lewis and Gary Kubiak do not make good in-game judgment calls, to say the least. At times it seemed as if both were content with exchanging field goals, and both made a few other bad decisions. Kubiak challenged an incomplete pass that looked as if it might be a fumble. However, Dalton's hand was clearly going forward with the ball in it, making it a bad challenge. Second, the whistle blew the play dead before anyone got possession of the ball, so I'm not sure how the refs would have ruled had the call been ruled a fumble.

I am a little surprised the Bengals didn't try to run the ball more. BenJarvus Green-Ellis had 11 carries for 63 yards (5.7 YPC), which is funny considering the over/under prop bet for him was 64.5 rushing yards. Arian Foster finished the day with 32 carries for 140 yards and now has 425 rushing yards over the last two postseasons.

The Texans opened at 9.5-point underdogs heading into New England next week, and it's tough to see them winning considering they lost their Week 14 matchup with the Patriots, 42-14. That said, I think they have a decent chance to make this a game because I don't see them getting blown out twice. The matchup is terrible for the Texans, a run-first team facing a defense whose strength is defending the run. That defense ranked sixth in the league against the run with a 3.9 YPC mark gave up 7.7 YPA, which ranked 28th in the league. Therefore, the Texans best chance to win is to air it out with Matt Schaub, making both him and Andre Johnson solid plays in one-and-done fantasy leagues.

Minnesota at Green Bay

The buzz on this game came an hour before it started with the possibility (that came to fruition) that Joe Webb would start for Christian Ponder. Ironically, many Packers fans became more worried about the prospect of Webb starting considering his mobility.

The first drive for the Vikings was their best (outside of a garbage-time touchdown) as both Webb and Adrian Peterson were effective on the ground. From there, it was a different story as Webb fumbled on fourth down and threw an interception. Twice Webb avoided sacks by throwing the ball up for grabs, both of which could have easily been picks as well.

Adrian Peterson was in large a bust considering he didn't eclipse 100 rushing yards and didn't find the end zone. In case you were wondering, Eric Dickerson played one playoff game the year he broke the single-season rushing record and had 107 rushing yards, so AP fell 17 rushing yards short of beating his record for the whole season (including playoffs).

Good luck handicapping the Green Bay wide receivers. DuJuan Harris and John Kuhn combined for three touchdowns while James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley combined for zero scores. Aaron Rodgers spread the ball around as Nelson, Harris, Jones and Jennings had 51-61 receiving yards with Jennings leading the team.

Mason Crosby didn't miss a field goal (his only attempt was 20 yards) and was successful on all three of his PATs. However, heading into San Francisco this week it's not hard to imagine a scenario in which Crosby or David Akers (if they go that direction) shanks a critical kick and costs their team the game. Ironically, San Francisco has opened as a favorite by a field goal.

Indianapolis at Baltimore

Ray Lewis is one of the greatest linebackers to ever play the game, but I'm not sure how he got to 13 tackles unless they kept counting the replay of the backfield tackle he made in the first quarter (preparing for Ravens' apologists ...). Still, I admire the guy for being like Jordan and going out before there's a sharp decline in his play.

I understand Bruce Arians was sick and couldn't make the game but shouldn't the Colts have run a play-action call once on first down? Andrew Luck's receivers didn't help him at all, considering I counted almost double-digit drops/catchable balls. The Colts need to address the running back position as their roster doesn't seem to have anyone who can stay healthy or rush for more than 4.0 YPC. Reggie Wayne had some drops, but he somehow seems to remain one of the league's more underrated receivers. Did you know he had 195 targets this season, 19 more than any season with Peyton Manning?

The worst display of coaching this weekend was the challenge by Chuck Pagano on a incomplete pass to Donnie Avery. This didn't fall on Pagano as coaches upstairs buzzed down to Pagano to throw the flag. How do NFL coaches not know the Calvin Johnson rule by now?

It was odd Ray Rice fumbled twice after only fumbling once the entire season. His teammate Bernard Pierce looked fantastic and appeared to be the player with the better vision and fresher legs. Pierce reminds me of Bryce Brown in that should anything happen to Rice, Brown would have top-5 running-back potential. Look for them to split series' this week. Unlike Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco threw some great deep balls to Anquan Boldin, whom I didn't see having a monster game. I'm glad they took the time to point out what a good blocker Torrey Smith is downfield; it sort of reminded me of Hines Ward. With a big game Boldin might get some more attention, and I love the downfield matchup for Smith, making him a great play in a one-and-done league if you have him. I can't see Champ Bailey staying with him at this point of his career, though I acknowledge what a good season he had. The opening spread in Denver has the Ravens getting nine points.

Seattle at Washington

This game seemed like it had the potential to make up for the three very average games, at best, that preceded it. However, it was obvious Robert Griffin III was much less than 100 percent and couldn't finish the game. It'll be interesting to find out what is wrong with his knee after it was twisted on an errant snap late in the game. There will be much discussion this week as to whether he should have even been in the game after appearing hobbled earlier. The other story line will be the difference between the teams during the first quarter and thereafter. It was a little surprising to see the Redskins get away from running Alfred Morris, who finished with only 16 carries, his lowest total since Week 10.

Kudos to Jim Haslett for coming up with some interesting blitz packages and changing up his defense that has been better the last several weeks. It won't show up in the box score (they had five sacks against Seattle, two against Dallas) but the last two weeks there seemed to be constant pressure on the opposing quarterback.

I'd love to get a count on how many broken tackles Marshawn Lynch had during the game. After a slow start he finished with 20 carries for 132 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown. Russell Wilson was solid; making few mistakes and finishing with a 92.9 passer rating. If there's any critique with his play, there were a few times he should have thrown the ball away and took a sack or got a minimal gain. The tough aspect about Seattle next season will be figuring out the wide receivers since none get a ton of targets.

Seattle heads into Atlanta this week getting 2.5 points, which will be tempting since it's a good matchup for the Seahawks. With two of the league's top corners in Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, the Falcons' duo of Roddy White and Julio Jones could be in for a long day.

Quick Hits About Fantasy Playoffs & General Observations:

In a field-goal heavy weekend, I feel for you, Kai Forbath owners.

Zach Miller has three touchdowns in his last five games. I didn't know this guy was still in the league, or the other Zach Miller for that matter.

If you're in plus territory and it's fourth and less than five, don't take the delay of game call to give your kicker more room. Go with a hard count and hope you can draw the defense off. The resulting penalty is a first down.

My hometown league is a one-and-done format. I was brilliant for using John Kuhn over Adrian Peterson, DuJuan Harris over Alfred Morris as running backs, Logan Paulsen over Jermichael Finley as my tight end and Evan Royster over Torrey Smith in my flex spot.

If I was in Vegas, I'd take the money lines for both the Ravens and Texans this week. All you need to net a nice profit is for one to win, and I think there's a good chance that happens. A big favorite typically loses in the playoffs, and I think it'll be the Patriots or Broncos. Surprisingly, for wild card weekend the favorites and the under covered in all four games.

When a team is trying to run out the clock with the ball, there's nothing wrong with taking the play clock all the way down to one second and calling timeout. Too many times teams snap the ball with 3-5 seconds left and leave two or three timeouts on the scoreboard.

Follow @KCPayne26 on Twitter.