Slate executive editor and Hang Up and Listen co-host Josh Levin joined former Broncos tight end Nate Jackson on our Facebook page to chat with readers about the NFL playoffs. The following transcript of the discussion has been edited for length and clarity.
Josh Levin: Hey everyone, looking forward to the chat. Here's a link to this week's Slate/Deadspin NFL dialogue if you want to catch up on what Nate and I are writing about this week.
Nate Jackson: Hi everybody. Let’s talk football things.
Max Stewart: Are my Steelers too banged up to go past the first round, just to let the Purple Browns beat them up further?
Josh Levin: I think the Steelers match up better against the Patriots than the Ravens. (In order to play the Patriots, they'd need to beat the Broncos and have the Texans beat the Bengals.) The Pats have a really shaky pass defense that Roethlisberger and co. could take advantage of even if they don't have a strong running game with Mendenhall out. Against the Ravens, that lack of balance on offense could lead to Terrell Suggs killing Roethlisberger.
Nate Jackson: The Steelers can surely come to Denver and win. But let me tell you, I’m in Denver now, and the Bronco love is palpable.
Nate Jackson: It’s Tebow Time!
Preston Parsons: Really Nate?? Tebow Time?? I thought I knew you better than that!! He's such a joke.
Nate Jackson: I was kidding, Preston. It was tongue in cheek ... but why is it that all ex-quarterbacks hate him so badly?
Preston Parsons: Because he's not a QB. It would be like saying Stefen Fatsis is a kicker. :)
Nate Jackson: Ha! Stefan was the greatest kicker the Broncos have ever seen! But you're right, Tebow can’t throw. That’s his main problem. It would suck being a receiver in that offense.
Pätrick Russell: Nate, we love our Broncos but I'm skeptical. I just don't see how they pull off a win. Steelers D is just too good and defenses have figured out how to shut Tebow and crew down.
Nate Jackson: Patrick: a home playoff game is always winnable, especially here in Denver.
Danny Stamp: American football should be called Hand Egg. Much more accurate label.
Josh Levin: Danny: I will never refer to football as anything but Hand Egg ever again.
Eric Aaron Deutsch: 1) Which team is best built to beat the Packers at Lambeau? (I suppose the options are NYG, ATL, NO, SF, and DET.)
Josh Levin: On their best day, I'd say the Giants have the best combo of offense and defense to beat the Packers in Lambeau. But the Giants don't often have their best day. For the Saints to win, they'd have to get some turnovers, which they haven't done all that much this year. The Packers have 31 interceptions on the year and the Saints have 9. Nine, people!
Nate Jackson: I think several teams can beat the Packers at Lambeau. But not the Saints. Lions, Giants, and Niners.
Bennett Schwartz: Why don’t you think the Niners can beat the Packers in Green Bay? Seems like optimal conditions for them besides field goal kicking.
Nate Jackson: I do think the Niners can win there. In fact they might be the team who is best built for it. Their defense is awesome. They force turnovers. They protect the ball. They have a great running game. And they're very confident. That goes a long way when going into a hostile environment like Green Bay.
Nate Jackson: Although it’s not so hostile. Loud, but genteel.
Nate Jackson: Unlike Oakland. If they had won on Sunday, Oakland would be the definition of a hostile environment.
Josh Levin: Following up on that, Nate: All else being equal, is it harder to play on the road in a dome when the home crowd is fired up? I went to the Saints-Falcons game in the Superdome a couple of weeks ago and came away thinking that it's amazing that a road team EVER wins in that kind of environment.
Nate Jackson: Domes are very loud! Indianapolis was the loudest stadium I've ever been in. But Kansas City, not domed, was the second loudest, back when Dante Hall was returning kicks in 2003. The road game difficulties are manifold. Weather, noise, time zone differential, food, travel, etc.