NFL Playoffs: Fight of the Football Cultures
Championships are decided on the defensive, they say. But in the NFL playoffs, this season will show whether even an aggressive style of play can bring in titles.
It was a result that looked like something from another time. When American football was still much rugby-like and consisted mainly of running games and field goals. 16:15 the reigning champion from Philadelphia won at the Chicago Bears - the match was 6: 3 at the break.
While at the beginning of the season, the attackers dominated the league almost at will, was at the beginning of the playoffs that the defensive lines are still important: A total of seven points, for example, the Houston Texans in their departure against Indianapolis.
This weekend, several quarterfinal duels will face different game philosophies that will show whether defense is still key in the playoffs - or whether superior assault series can be taken alone.
Indianapolis Colts - Kansas City Chiefs (Saturday, 10:35 pm CET, TV: ProSieben, DAZN)
Kansas quarterback Patrick Mahomes
No other attacking machine seems as familiar as the Kansas City Chiefs: Quarterback Patrick Mahomes has thrown more than 5000 yards in his first season as a starter, including 50 touchdown passes with only 12 interceptions. Above all, it is the strength of his limb that astonishes many fans and opponents.
Mahomes does not just throw classic from the shoulder, but also sideways - and sometimes even with left. The comparisons with the throwing of a baseball are not coincidental, because the 24-year-old is the son of former major league pitcher Pat Mahomes, who played for the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox, among others. With wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce, at least two more top weapons are in the Chiefs' Starting Offense.
And yet many experts believe that the Chiefs could bite their teeth on the Indianapolis Colts. This is partly due to the dream comeback of quarterback Andrew Luck, who is experiencing something of the Colts' second spring - and is now so popular that even a Twitter account depicting Luck as an officer in the American Civil War has become a national celebrity has become.
Video analysis: Which is the most exciting team in the NFL?
Getty Images / AFP; MIRROR ONLINE
On the other hand, it is because the Chiefs and especially their trainer Andy Reid are considered notorious playoff losers - and because the Defense only ranked 31st of all NFL teams - the penultimate place so.
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams (Sunday, 2:15 CET, TV: ProSieben, DAZN)
Running Back Ezekiel Elliott
A similar imbalance has the Los Angeles Rams, who moved from San Diego to the Hollywood metropolis at the beginning of the season. The hosts' upgraded offensive (the second-best NFL to the Chiefs) is complemented by a 19th-ranked defense.
Now the Rams compete against a team that re-invented itself as a defensive battle-horse (seventh place in the league) after a messy start in the middle of the season: the Dallas Cowboys. Notably, on both sides, the team's superstar is not quarterback, but two of the league's best running backs (ball bearers), Todd Gurley at the Rams and Ezekiel Elliott at the Cowboys.
Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints (Sunday 10:40 pm CET, TV: ProSieben, DAZN)
New Orleans Quarterback Brees
New Orleans, on the other hand, relies on the passing game: Drew Brees, quarterback and superstar of the Saints, has been setting one record after another for years. The Saints scored 504 points in the regular season, an outstanding NFL average of 31.5 points per game. For comparison: The Cowboys, after all, even among the last eight playoff teams, just came to a good 21 points per game.
Against the cowboys, the Saints conceded a bitter defeat in the regular season - because the defense of the Texans bothered the attack flow sensitive - and allowed just ten points. The Saints are the clear favorite in the domestic Superdome against the reigning Philadelphia Super Bowl champion. In the first meeting this season, the Eagles lost in New Orleans 7:48.
San Diego Chargers at New England Patriots (Sunday 19:05 CET, TV: ProSieben, DAZN)
And then there's the New England Patriots with veteran Tom Brady. The team has not lost a home game this season, and throughout the era of coach Bill Belichick, who is in his 19th season in Boston, it's been 3 out of 22 playoff home games. And even against the LA Chargers hardly another should come to it.
The successful duo Belichick & Brady can incidentally be considered a prototype of an offensive game understanding: Finally, the Patriots for quite some time rather rely on Brady in the last drive of a game his offense once again leads down the field - rather than that a cornerback catches the crucial interception (like Malcolm Butler in the SUPER BOWL XLIX).
Defense wins championships? This weekend may prove to be the opposite, at least for this season.