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Four Things To Learn From Patriots, Ravens, Giants And 49ers

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Former NFL head coach Brian Billick was on NFL Network the other day talking about what we can learn from the four teams remaining in the 2012 NFL playoffs.

I found his points interesting. The Chiefs hit on two out of three.

1. Draft a first round quarterback. The Giants and 49ers the first overall pick on Eli Manning and Alex Smith, respectively. The Ravens picked up Joe Flacco in the first round. And Tom Brady...well, as Billick said, he'll always be the outlier. The Chiefs, obviously, do not have this.

2. Play good defense. Duh. This is one of those cliches we've seen over the years but it really rings true this year. In the "Year of the quarterback", we have two of the top three defenses in the final four (Ravens and 49ers) as well as a team (Giants) that have made it due in large part to the rise of their defense.

3. Make sure you have a tight end. This really should've been the year of the tight end. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are game-changes and Vernon Davis helped the 49ers big-time in beating the Saints last weekend. Tight ends are the "it" in the NFL. It's a copy-cat league and teams will start using them more and more (until more hybrid linebacker/safety freaks to cover them start to develop more).

4. Have a coach who can manage the game. By this he means one who is not calling the plays. Romeo Crennel will be calling the defensive plays and in three games he did a pretty good job so this will be something to monitor down the road.