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And Another Thing

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A few more thoughts

Further thoughts on the NFL playoffs from the other side of eight hours of sleep ...

* Some will scoff at this, but you've got to wonder if getting a first-round bye in the playoffs is a bad thing.

The Packers clearly looked rusty in the loss to the Giants -- without two horrendously bad calls to keep Packer drives alive, it's a lot worse than 37-20 -- as Aaron Rodgers missed some throws he doesn't normally miss in his sleep and was in turn victimized by some awful drops by his receivers.

A week off likely doesn't hurt some teams as much as others; witness the Ravens, who rely on ball control and defense and consequently were no worse off against the Texans. But with a team like Green Bay, whose offense is built on timing, rhythm and repetition, the week away clearly had an effect -- particularly on Rodgers, who hadn't really played at all since Christmas.

* That said, you also have to wonder how much the tragic death of Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin's son last week had to factor into it, too. Mental preparation is as much a part of playoff football as physical preparation, and it's hard to imagine the Packers' minds weren't elsewhere at times last week.

* And now for a little blaspheming.

To wit: Eli Manning isn't Peyton, but he's a better playoff quarterback than his older brother.

Facts is facts, as they say. With Sunday's win, Eli's now 4-1 on the road in the playoffs. And his career playoff numbers are better than his regular season numbers.

And Peyton?

His playoff numbers are markedly worse, perhaps because in the playoffs he's sometimes been compelled to play outside in January, away from the comforts of climate control and the warm-weather cities of the AFC South. Even the year the Colts won the Super Bowl, he wasn't all that super in the playoffs -- three touchdowns, seven picks, a quarterback rating south of 70.

The Colts won that year because they ran the football and stopped the run, not because Peyton made magic. Although he was named Super Bowl MVP, it was obvious the real MVP was either Joseph Addai, who had 10 catches for 66 yards and ran for another 77, or Dominic Rhodes, who ran for 113 yards and a touchdown.

Ben Smith's blog.

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