Playoffs are here! I know that back in April and May, it looked bleak. Hell, even in this week, we have covid issues and a head coach who can’t be at the stadium.
With the new format, we have great matchups that speak for themselves to me. One of these teams will be a champion. Some men here will receive huge pay days for what they do in these next four weeks.
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will” – Vince Lombardi.
(7) Indianapolis Colts @ (2) Buffalo Bills (-6.5)
Who leads the league in scoring over the past three weeks? Damn right it’s the Bills! Circle them wagons, as Buffalo is red hot at the perfect time. Winners of six straight with no wins being closer than ten points. Sean McDermott has a real chance to lead his team to the Super Bowl. But Indianapolis isn’t going down easy. They come in on a little hot streak of 4-1 over their last five. We have finally seen this emergence of Johnathan Taylor. He is averaging 6.0 yards per carry, and has scored seven different times over his last six games. Rivers is 4-1 in his career during the Wild Card round. His turnovers have been minimal since the bad start. The team is clicking right now, and if it wasn’t for a second half collapse against Pittsburgh, they would of won the division. The defense is still top ten in points against. They didn’t even allow a team to rush for over 100 yards in the last five. But Buffalo doesn’t run the ball anyways. “Air Allen” is here and he should be feared. Is the 15/2 TD/INT ratio not enough? What about his 70% completion rate? Doubt him if you want but this guy performs well week in and week out. Buffalo opened as a seven point favorite but I doubt this line changes much. However Buffalo has this black cloud hanging around them during the playoffs. They haven’t won a game since 1995, they also have one of the most heartbreaking, four year stretches ever. Losing four straight Super Bowls in the early 90’s. But I think Josh Allen rises up here. This Bills team is killing teams right now, they have a quarterback to believe in, and a coaching staff that appears to have a winning game plan. Give me the Bills but the Colts cover the 6.5.
(6) Los Angelas Rams @ (3) Seattle Seahawks(-3)
I’m not saying this game relies on Goff’s health but I wouldn’t be thrilled to see Walford back at the helm of the offense. His inability to throw the ball was clear. Yes he had solid rushing numbers. But the defense clearly loaded the box and asked him to beat them. He made some necessary throws to move the ball into field goal range, but a better defense could really expose his faults. Especially one who didn’t allow the Rams to score a passing touchdown all year. Sadly we always remember the beginning of the season and it really the middle. Because this isn’t the same Seattle defense that got roasted by Dak and Cam for 30+ points. Now the max they have allowed in three weeks is 23. Those seven points are huge for an offense as electric as Seattle. I really do believe Jamal Adams has been a huge impact on that. His ability to get after the QB, and be a huge nuisance has had a direct impact on the flow of opposing offenses. But there is no bigger problem than the one wearing blue and gold. Teams double and triple team Aaron Donald every game. Yet he still win. Now the Rams have always played the Seahawks tough. The 11 total sacks this season alone are enough of a reason to be worried. But Russell Wilson is 5-0 at home in the playoffs. Also, of the seven times Russel has made the playoffs, he has been knocked out in the first game just once. This dude wins, the coaching staff knows how to win, and the culture is in place for this team to believe that they can win. As I stated earlier, if the Rams can’t play Goff, I think it’s a layup for Seattle. But if he plays, I still think the Seahawks win this game. I think it’ll take a late game winning drive, but Seattle will ultimately win.
(5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-8) @ (4) The Washington Football Team
Well Tom Brady is back in his element. It may be new colors but the expectations are the same. Now even though they are the lower seed, they come in as a favorite to no surprise. Tampa’s offense is third in points for (30.8 ppg), second in passing yards (289.1 ypg), and more importantly, doing a great job of protecting Tom. He has been able to throw the ball downfield better than anyone. Leading the leagues in completions of 25+ yards. That’s kind of big news because Tom was always a guy who threw close to the line of scrimmage. We have also seen that connection to AB get better, Mike Evans had his fewest catches in a season, yet he set a career high with 13 touchdowns. But will it be Darby or Fuller to cover Evans? Than the other will cover Godwin, but then that leaves AB on lesser competition. We didn’t even mention Gronk. That’s the advantage Tampa has. But Washington earned that division title. Chase Young really said it best. “I Want Tom Brady.” That hunger from a rookie will only be contagious in a locker room. That front seven has 3 or more sacks in three out of four weeks. That has to be a huge reason for them to be second in opponents ypg(191.8). Now the offense isn’t clicking like their opponents. Smith, Gibson, and Mclaurin are coming in hobbled, but all should play. This experience will be crucial for their development as well. This WFT is built for future success. But that’s just it, future success. They have solid young pieces at key positions, on both sides of the ball. But it’ll take time for them to really hit that prime. Maybe at a perfect time with a young QB. But give me the Buccaneers to win but I like WFT to cover.
(5) Baltimore Ravens (-3) @ (4) Tennessee Titans
Dare I say this is a different Baltimore team than the one the Titans played in week 11. Yeah their last five games weren’t against tough competition, but they did dominate. Scoring less than 30 points just once. Lamar has seen his game elevate in the passing game. His QB rating dipped below 100 just once in those four games. You can mainly attribute that to his 11/3 TD/INT ratio, and the protection he got. He never had a game where he never hit the dirt, until this hot streak when the offensive line didn’t allow a sack three out of those five games. Now you don’t have to worry about that with this Titans team. They are the worst team in the NFL at generating pressure. That lack of pressure opens them up to being exposed through the air. Ranking 29th in passing yards allowed (277.4 ypg) and 31st in passing touchdowns allowed (2.2 per game). So how are they beating people? Normally it’s their offense jumping out to an early lead, and riding the Henry. His size wears on a defense, milks the clock and open the playbook to play action. Ultimately giving those great wide receivers one on one coverage along the outside. Tennessee is the number one scoring team at home this year (32.9 per game). But this offense could meet its match here with the second ranked scoring defense (18.9 ppg). The Titans have had their way with Baltimore as of late but something tells me the tides just have to turn eventually right? Baltimore is really well coached and way more balanced. This lack of defense will not carry the Titans far, but far enough to beat the Ravens. Give me the Titans to win and take the points.
(7) Chicago Bears @ (2) New Orleans Saints(-10)
The biggest spread on the day at -10 and for good reason. Chicago was a team who got really hot early. Jumping to a 5-1 record with a bug win against Brady in primetime, they seemed poised to contend. But Foles’s play really dropped off after that. He was averaging one interception a game, a quarterback rating never 99, and the offense could never score. Sadly an injury put him on the bench and Mitchell Trubisky has decent. The offense has put up at least 30 points all but once since his return to the starting job. Foles never led the Bears to 30. I think a big part is to due with Montgomery being more effective. Opposing teams finally have to finally be able to defend the run and pass. But this Saints team is a different beast. They are fourth in yards against (310.9 ypg) and fifth in points against (21.1). They get to the quarterback just as well as any great defense. Lattimore is a shutdown corner that I think can handle Robinson. Then they stack the box and ask Trubisky to beat them. I think the Saints offense will have the hiccups. Chicago is solid on defense. They will cause issues for New Orleans but will Trubisky be able to keep it close? I don’t see it. I do see the Bears covering that giant playoff spread, but the Saints win.
(6) Cleveland Browns @ (3) Pittsburgh Steelers(-6)
Well here we go! Once again I’m not saying the plan was for them to play Cleveland in the playoffs, but this is better than all the other options I feel. So can this Browns team really win? Pittsburgh has the pedigree, the talent, the coaching, and overall the culture is built for these moments. But Pittsburgh is limping their way into the playoffs. 1-4 in their last five with losses to WFT, Bengals and this same Browns team. In those four losses, we saw an uninspired offense. We saw a game plan that had zero adjustments. You know it’s bad when rookies and second year guys can know when we are throwing a slant route. Ben is second in batted balls thrown, only trailing a guy who is 5-6 inches shorter than all his lineman. Now you can blame him entirely, Ben also leads the league in passes dropped (39). This “plague of drops” needs to be a nonissue in the playoffs. Each and every drive is more and more crucial. One drop could swing that momentum to the opposing team. You can’t give a team like the Browns any sort of advantage. They have a history of turning their offense on instantly. Because of that inconsistency, they lie somewhere in the middle of points (14th at 25.5 ppg) and yards (16th at 369.6 ypg). Baker has seen his game elevate without OBJ. Everyone has seen it. There is something to be said when you can just play football. See the field how you need to and make the right throw. But it can mess with your psyche if you have to make sure this guy gets looks. So now Higgins, Landry and Hooper are thriving in this new offense. But this offense will be without its best asset, the play caller. Stefanski is a known positive covid result, so he can coach via zoom up until kickoff. This is going to be an issue. You can argue that their success relies a lot on his coaching plan. So now can Baker read the defense, and work with the coordinators to win this game? Against arguably the best defense in the league? I have no reason why this spread is six points. Pittsburgh has not looked good in a while. So I’m easily taking the Browns points but I think the Steelers win. Ben marches down the field and sets the Boz up for a game winning kick. Pittsburgh wins.