I’m just saying…the Browns selected Braylon Edwards the same year Aaron Rodgers was drafted.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) runs into the end zone past Atlanta Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton for a touchdown in the 3rd quarter during their NFC Divisional NFL playoff football game in Atlanta January 15, 2011. REUTERS/Rich Addicks (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

I haven’t done this column in a couple of weeks but after this weekend’s games, I thought it was an appropriate time to bring it back.

So here’s the latest installment of “I’m just saying…,” NFL Divisional Round-style.

– Colts fans after Nick Folk missed that chip shot field goal in the first quarter of the Jets-Patriots game on Sunday: “Oh come on!”

– After the Packers-Falcons game, I took a quick look at the stats sheet and saw that Aaron Rodgers was 31-of-36 passing for 366 yards and accounted for four touchdowns. My first reaction was: He had five incompletions?!

– Hey, when your team is up 25 points late in the third quarter and all you need to do is run some clock, why wouldn’t you call a halfback pass with Matt Forte and risk turning the ball over? You keep doing your thing, Mike Martz.

– Rex Ryan just beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady (two of the best quarterbacks in NFL history) in back-to-back weeks using two different game plans. Say what you want about his mouth, but the guy knows defense.

– If I’m a team that needs a defensive coordinator, I’m on the phone right now with Rob Ryan. I want that gene pool designing my defenses.

– Most defenders would sacrifice one of their limbs to have a free shot at Jay Cutler when he’s running with the ball towards the end zone. But instead of delivering a punishing blow, Seattle safety Earl Thomas tried to bring the quarterback down by osmosis on Cutler’s touchdown run in the second quarter on Sunday. Somewhere, Ndamukong Suh is weeping.

– Matt Ryan after the game on why he threw the sideline pass that Tramon Williams intercepted and returned for a touchdown instead of throwing the ball away: “Well, I thought if Williams was anything like our corners, he would be playing 10 yards off the ball and I’d be able to pick up an easy seven yards.”

– I know where I’ve seen Bears’ O-lineman Frank Omiyale before: he doubles as a turnstile at Halas Hall during the weekdays.

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Cutler lifts Bears to Divisional win over Seahawks, sets up rematch with Packers

Chicago Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler celebrates after his touchdown pass to teammate Kellen Davis in the fourth quarter of play against the Seattle Seahawks during their NFC Divisional NFL playoff football game in Chicago, January 16, 2011. REUTERS/Frank Polich (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Here are five thoughts on the Bears’ impressive 35-24 victory over the Seahawks in the Divisional Round on Sunday.

1. What inexperience?
Jay Cutler did Sunday what Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan couldn’t this weekend: Elevate his game when it mattered most. For all the talk about his lack of postseason experience, Cutler played like a 10-year playoff veteran on Sunday. He set the tone early with a picture-perfect 58-yard touchdown pass to Greg Olsen on the Bears’ third offensive play from scrimmage and then showed pure grit and determination on his 6-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. On the day, he was 15-of-28 passing for 274 yards with four touchdowns (two passing, two rushing) and zero interceptions (although he came close to throwing a couple of picks, including one at the goal line). Cutler has really put a lot of his past troubles behind him and deserves praise for his unflappable play on Sunday. He was highly impressive.

2. Cutler also got a lot of help from his offensive line.
The Bears’ O-line has taken a lot of heat for its play over the last couple of years, and deservedly so. But they’ve been a transformed unit since midway through the season and a lot of credit goes to Mike Tice and Lovie Smith for moving guys around to better match their strengths (and quite frankly, hide their weaknesses, too). Cutler was excellent but he also had plenty of time to survey the field and pick apart Seattle’s overmatched secondary. His front five did an outstanding job swallowing the Seahawks’ pass-rushers and keeping them out of the backfield.

3. That’s Bear defense right there.
The final score doesn’t do the Bears justice. Their defense played out of its mind for three quarters and that’s about as aggressive as I’ve seen Chicago’s secondary play all season. Unlike other teams who like to play their corners 10 yards off the ball and give opponents easy yards via slants and screens, the Bears’ DBs suffocated Seattle’s wideouts all afternoon. Granted, nobody outside of Brandon Stokley fought back, but credit still goes to the Bears’ corners for bringing the fight to them right from the start. Once again, Julius Peppers failed to record a sack but he got pressure on Hasselbeck all day. You have to focus on him to really appreciate what he does for that defense. He helped paved the way for fellow linemen like Tommie Harris, who did rack up two sacks. Without a doubt, J-Pepp was worth the money the Bears spent this offseason.

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Packers dominate overmatched Falcons, advance to NFC Championship Game

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (R) shakes hands with wide receiver Greg Jennings (L) after defeating the Atlanta Falcons following their NFC Divisional NFL playoff football game in Atlanta, January 15, 2011. REUTERS/Rich Addicks (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Here are six thoughts on the Packers’ 48-21 rout of the horrendous Falcons in the NFL Divisional Round.

1. Aaron Rodgers is a superstar.
That was like watching someone take candy from a baby. When I checked the stat sheet following the game and saw that Rodgers completed 31-of-36 pass attempts, I literally said out loud, “He had five incompletions?” I swear I only saw two of his passes hit the ground. He was surgical with his throws, averaging 10.2 yards per pass with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Even when the Falcons accidentally pressured him, he evaded pass-rushers and often bought himself more time with his feet. There were at least three times when Atlanta defenders had him dead to rights and every time he shook free to find a wide-open receiver. If he plays that well next week, the Packers will be going to the Super Bowl.

2. Really? That was your defensive game plan, VanGorder?
Rodgers is great but Atlanta’s defense made him look like the freak-o love child of Brett Favre, Dan Marino, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Roger Staubach, John Elway, Johnny Unitas, Steve Young and Fran Tarkenton. That was one of the worst defensive efforts I’ve ever seen from a team that qualified for the postseason and I can’t say that it was all the players’ fault. During the first meeting between these two teams in November (a game Atlanta somehow won), Rodgers tore the Falcons’ defense to shreds when they only rushed three linemen. So what does defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder do on Saturday night? He only rushes three down linemen for most of the first half, of course. Rodgers is going to make plays – I get that. But you’re telling me that’s the best game plan that VanGorder could come up with? Rush three and sit back in zone? How pathetic. How unbelievably, undeniably pathetic. Where was the VanGorder defense that blitzed Drew Brees for four quarters and held him in check four weeks ago? Where was the defensive-minded Mike Smith when it was clear that Van Gorder was completely overmatched by Mike McCarthy? Guys like John Abraham and Stephen Nicolas failed to bring down Rodgers when they had clear shots at him. That’s not VanGorder’s fault. But my high school ran a better defense and all we did played was a 4-3 with a Cover 4. I won’t ever come to understand how VanGorder thought that game plan was best for slowing down Aaron bleeping Rodgers. Horrible, absolutely horrible.

3. Williams changed this game in a blink of an eye.
I don’t think the Packers were going to lose this game. Rodgers was too good and the Falcons were too overmatched for Green Bay to walk out of Atlanta without a victory. That said, Tramon Williams was the reason that this game wasn’t close. He was clearly beaten by Michael Jenkins on an end zone pass in the second quarter, but because Matt Ryan threw the pass like an 86-year-old grandma with arthritis, Williams was able to recover and make a great interception. Then he sealed the win for Green Bay right before half by baiting Ryan on a sideline route and taking his second pick of the quarter to the house for six. After that, the Falcons were done. You could see it in their eyes – they wanted to tap out. That interception was deflating and the Falcons weren’t willing to get off the mat. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If only one Green Bay cornerback is heading to the Pro Bowl this year, it should be Tramon Williams. No offense to Charles Woodson because he’s great, but Williams was the Packers’ best defensive back this season.

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Ravens’ second half collapse leads to Steelers’ victory

Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco (5) is sacked by James Harrison (92) of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second half of their AFC Divisional NFL playoff football game in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, January 15, 2011. REUTERS/Jason Cohn (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Here are five quick-hit thoughts on the Steelers’ 31-24 victory over the Ravens in the NFL Divisional Round.

1. Ravens pick a horrible time to play their worst football.
Baltimore’s second half collapse in this game was one of the worst I have ever seen. They did such a great job building all of this momentum in the first half only to give it right back on their first offensive possession in the third quarter. The Ravens took a two-touchdown lead into the second half but quickly allowed Pittsburgh back into the game with sloppy play. From Ray Rice and Joe Flacco’s fumbles to two huge drops by Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh at the end of the game, the Ravens saved their worst for the most important game of the year. That said…

2. …what a great job by the Steelers to capitalize on Baltimore’s mistakes.
You have to hand it to the Steelers: they always seem to make plays when it matters most. When Rice fumbled at the start of the third quarter, they turned the gift into seven points. When the defense picked off Flacco, they again put the ball into the end zone. When Boldin dropped that key pass on third down late in the game, Ben Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown on an improbable 58-yard pass to set up the eventual game-winning touchdown. Pittsburgh played a horrible first half, but it didn’t matter in the end. Because when the other shoe eventually dropped, the Steelers took full advantage.

3. Flacco must elevate his game in the playoffs.
In his third year, Joe Flacco has done some great things. You can tell he “gets it” and that he’s going to be a very good player for a long time. But if the Ravens want to win anything of any substance, he has to elevate his game when they get to the playoffs. He only threw for 125 yards and while he did have one touchdown, his fumble and interception in the second half proved costly. Granted, if Boldin catches that ball at the goal line on third down or Houshmandzadeh doesn’t drop that fourth down pass, maybe I’m signing Flacco’s praises right now. But those two drops don’t excuse Flacco’s lackluster play in the second half.

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Barstool Debate: Who is going to win — the Packers or the Falcons?

Atlanta Falcons Matt Ryan dumps a short pass off to running back Jason Snelling in the second quarter against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday December 19, 2010 at Qwest Field in Seattle. Ryan completed 20 of 35 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns and one pass intercepted. The Falcons are going back to the playoffs after beating the Seahawks 34-18. (UPI /Jim Bryant)

Saturday marks a special day in my relationship with my co-worker Anthony Stalter. No, it’s not our anniversary or anything – my favorite team is the Green Bay Packers and he’s an Atlanta Falcons fan, so the fact that the two teams are squaring off in the playoffs is a pretty big deal in our world. In fact, since he lives in St. Louis and I live in Southern California, we’ve both agreed to purchase a 12-pack of Bud Select 55 (not a plug, but it could be!) and pretend that we’re splitting a case while watching the game together.

As I just tweeted, everything that happens today is just a preamble to Saturday’s game, so let’s talk a little trash as we try to run the clock out on the work week.

JP: First of all, let’s see who’s the bigger fan. I was born outside of Milwaukee and grew up loving the Packers, even when players like Lynn Dickey, Eddie Lee Ivory and Paul Ott Carruth were the big names (and an 8-8 record was a successful season). Then came Brett Favre (ironically via a trade with the Falcons) who was my favorite player for 16 freaking years before he retired his way to our arch-rival. Blood had been spilled. My autographed photo of Favre is sitting, face-down, in the garage, waiting for his inevitable “mea culpa” visit to Lambeau in a couple of years. What’s my point? I’m a fan of the Packers, not of any one player. Now, tell us how you became a fan of the Falcons…

AS: I grew up in Chicago so many people assume that I’m a Bears fan (why they would think that, I have no idea). But my folks are from New York so they had no loyalty to the home team. To my family’s disappointment, I didn’t become a Jets fan. When I was real young, I liked certain players instead of teams. But when I was 9, the first playoff game I remember watching from start to finish was the 1991 Wildcard matchup between the Saints and Falcons. When you’re a kid, you usually don’t focus on defensive players, but I was enamored with Deion Sanders. He was the most athletic player I had ever watched. Chris Miller also hit Michael Haynes on a 61-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter, so that particular game was thrilling. I’ve been hooked on the Falcons ever since, even though it hasn’t been easy being a fan of theirs over the years. Up until last year, they never had back-to-back winning seasons so I’ve endured a lot of losing. From Jeff George to Jamal Anderson to Michael Vick (ugh, talk about highs and lows), they’ve put me through a lot. But just like you when it comes to the Packers JP, the Falcons will forever be my team. Since I have never lived in Atlanta, DirecTV’s “Sunday Ticket” is the world’s greatest invention. I never miss a snap of the Falcons’ games, even when I have to watch them again later so I can fulfill my responsibilities to TSR.

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