The 10 Huge NFL Playoff Stories That No One Is Talking About Right Now

James Harrison

[credit provider=”AP”]

Rejoice, the NFL Playoffs are here!Everyone is buzzing about Tim Tebow, the Saints’ ineptitude on grass, and the Giants’ sleeper potential.

But there are a bunch of stories flying under the radar — like Denver’s suddenly shaky defence, Big Ben’s gimpy ankle, and the two big fat chinks of Green Bay’s armour.

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[slide
permalink=”the-falcons-exist-1″
title=”The Falcons exist”
content=”Atlanta wins the award for the Most Forgettable Playoff Team of 2011.

They were anonymous all year — earning comfortable wins over mediocre teams and losing relatively soundly to the league’s best teams.

No one really thinks they have a shot to make noise. But they have a good QB, and a lot of weapons at the skill positions, so they should be able to put up points on the Giants.”
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[slide
permalink=”you-could-argue-that-eli-manning-has-been-more-impressive-than-brees-and-rodgers-2″
title=”You could argue that Eli Manning has been more impressive than Brees and Rodgers”
content=”Rodgers’ MVP candidacy took a hit when random backup dude Matt Flynn threw for six touchdowns in his absence last week.

It’s a little unfair, but it shows that Rodgers (and to a lesser extent Brees) have a ton of weapons at his disposal.

Eli doesn’t have such weapons. He has no running game, a patchwork offensive line, and one good receiver (Victor Cruz). Yet he’s still put up absurd numbers and won the (weak) NFC East.”
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[slide
permalink=”the-packers-are-sort-of-a-mess-3″
title=”The Packers are sort of a mess”
content=”Green Bay is without BOTH offensive tackles.

That’s huge for a team that runs as many empty sets as the Packers.

In addition, their defensive has taken a step back from the form they showed in last year’s playoffs.

Did they peak too early? We’ll see.”
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[slide
permalink=”we-have-no-idea-how-hurt-big-ben-is-4″
title=”We have no idea how hurt Big Ben is”
content=”Mike Tomlin says he’s not worried about Ben Roethlisberger’s gimpy ankle.

But he reportedly suffered a small ‘setback’ yesterday, and we’ll really only know how healthy he is when he steps onto the field on Sunday.

If he’s hobbling around the way he was two weeks ago, Pittsburgh has something to worry about.”
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[slide
permalink=”denvers-vaunted-defense-has-vanished-in-thin-air-5″
title=”Denver’s vaunted defence has vanished in thin air”
content=”Von Miller hasn’t been the same since he injured his right hand in Week 12.

As a result, the once-scary Broncos D has lost its punch. They’ve let up 35 or more points in three out of the last five games. Now, Denver has to lean on Tim Tebow to score points, not just protect field position.”
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[slide
permalink=”the-2011-bengals-are-eerily-similar-to-the-2010-bucs-6″
title=”The 2011 Bengals are eerily similar to the 2010 Bucs”
content=”Check it out:

The 2010 Bucs were 10-6 against a weak schedule in a division with two other playoff teams. The 2011 Bengals were 9-7 against a weak schedule in a division with two other playoff teams.

The Bucs were 20th in scoring offence. The Bengals were 18th.

The Bucs were 7th in scoring defence. The Bengals were 9th.

Both also had young, up-and-coming QBs.

The Bucs were awful this year, so beware, Bengals fans.”
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[slide
permalink=”hey-defense-still-matters-7″
title=”Hey, defence still matters”
content=”For all the talk about how the NFL has become an offence-first league, defensive powerhouses still get to the playoffs.

Five of the top-10 scoring defenses made the playoffs, and only three playoff teams were outside the top-20 in scoring defence.

Translation: You can score all the points you want, but you generally have to be able to stop someone to make the playoffs.”
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[slide
permalink=”none-of-the-patriots-13-wins-have-come-against-a-winning-team-8″
title=”None of the Patriots’ 13 wins have come against a winning team”
content=”True story.

The Big Lead did a good job of showing why that doesn’t necessarily mean the Patriots are frauds. But you have to be a little hesitant to hop on the Pats’ bandwagon.”
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[slide
permalink=”meanwhile-the-ravens-are-6-1-against-winning-teams-9″
title=”Meanwhile, the Ravens are 6-1 against winning teams”
content=”The Ravens are sort of the anti-Patriots. No one believes in them despite the fact that they’ve consistently proved themselves against stiff competition.

But there are legitimate questions about this team: Can Joe Flacco make game-changing plays? Is the defence too old?”
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[slide
permalink=”the-lions-can-win-their-second-playoff-game-since-1957-10″
title=”The Lions can win their second playoff game since 1957″
content=”The Lions have been really, really bad for a long, long time.

No one seems to think they can beat the Saints since New Orleans are on a roll while Detroit has been bad for three months.

But the Lions have a chance to win a playoff game for the first time in 20 years, so you shouldn’t miss it.”
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[slide
permalink=”more-nfl-11″
title=”More NFL”
content=”WHAT IF…?: The Frustratingly Simple Way Your NFL Could Have Made The Playoffs >>
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