The 2011 NFL Playoffs kick off this Saturday and our San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders will be watching at home once again. It was a rough and tumble season for the 49ers while the Raiders appeared to make some big strides forward. Given expected and possible changes in each organization, expectations will be fairly high in 2011. In the meantime, I thought it would be interesting to look at the 2011 NFL playoff picture and see how our Bay Area teams did against the various playoff teams. Your 2011 playoff seeds and first round matchups are as follows:
#1 New England Patriots
#2 Pittsburgh Steelers
#3 Indianapolis Colts vs. #6 New York Jets
#4 Kansas City Chiefs vs. #5 Baltimore Ravens
#1 Atlanta Falcons
#2 Chicago Bears
#3 Philadelphia Eagles vs. #6 Green Bay Packers
#4 Seattle Seahawks vs. #5 New Orleans Saints
The 2010 Oakland Raiders faced the Chiefs twice, Pittsburgh once on the road, and Indianapolis once at home, finishing 2-2 against playoff teams. They defeated the Chiefs both times in their unprecedented non-playoff 6-0 division campaign. Their first win over the Chiefs came in a game that saw Jacoby Ford have his breakout game, finishing with 148 receiving yards and a kickoff return for a touchdown. The Raiders won 23-20 in an overtime thriller that brought the Raiders to within a half game of the Chiefs. The Raiders demolished the Chiefs 31-10 in their second meeting costing the Chiefs a shot at the number three seed. Michael Bush was the dominant factor in this game as he rushed for 137 yards in a dominant performance.
The other two games resulted in Raiders losses as they were routed by the Pittsburgh Steelers 35-3 and lost a tough one to Indy 31-26. Oakland went into Pittsburgh riding a three game winning streak and could have remained tied with KC if they had been able to beat the Steelers. Instead that loss precipitated a tough close to the season that saw the Raiders lose four of six before winning the season finale. That final loss came against Indianapolis. The Raiders had already been eliminated from playoff contention by kickoff courtesy of a Chiefs iwn.
The 2010 San Francisco 49ers had one of their roughest seasons in quite some time thanks in part to high expectations coming in to 2010. Their schedule included games against a host of playoff teams including the Seahawks twice, the Chiefs, the Falcons, Eagles, Packers, and Saints. I can't imagine many teams facing that many playoff teams in one season. The 49ers finished 1-6 against those playoff teams.
The season opened with a 31-6 thrashing up in Seattle that set the tone for what would be an ugly season. Although the 49ers would bounce back later in the season to whip Seattle 40-21 at Candlestick, it really just showed the nature of a weak NFC West. The Seahawks ended up winning the division title by becoming the first sub-.500 playoff time. It wasn't so much that they were the best of the best, but more the best of the worst.
The 49ers 2010 schedule featured five playoff teams to open the season. After losing at Seattle they dropped a 25-22 heartbreaker to New Orleans courtesy of a last second Saints field goal after Alex Smith had driven the 49ers the length of the field to tie it up. They suffered a bit of a letdown from that game as they went into Kansas City and were beaten down pretty handily 31-10 by a hot Chiefs team. That was followed by a bounce-back effort against the Falcons in Atlanta. The 49ers had a chance to win this one but a late Nate Clements fumble of an interception that would have iced the game. The 49ers lost on another last second field goal.
The 49ers wrapped up this stretch of playoff teams with another close loss, this time to an Eagles squad led by Kevin Kolb at QB. The 49ers had some chances against the Eagles but could never put anything consistent together and it cost them. Their final two playoff opponents were the Packers and Seahawks. Although they beat Seattle pretty handily, they blew a golden opportunity against the Packers. The 49ers trailed by only a point, 14-13, to Green Bay at the half. However, the Packers made some adjustments and had little trouble with the 49ers in the second half.