Here come the big boys of these NFL playoffs. The reigning Super Bowl champs might actually have a point to prove this weekend, as well. Kansas City won seven in a row before resting their starters in Week 17. That was an impressive run, but the doubters point out that each victory came by just one score. Don’t be fooled. This is still very much the team to beat along the road to Super Bowl 55.
The red-hot Bills have won seven in a row and, as I have mentioned before, that would have been 11 successive victories but for a Hail Mary pass loss to Arizona in Week 10. The fact that Josh Allen looked totally at home on the big playoff stage last weekend bodes well for the rest of this tournament. He has grown an incredible amount as a player and a leader in 12 months. He looks Super Bowl ready.
The Packers enter the playoff fray knowing they have a genuine shot at a Super Bowl berth. They have won 13 games in the regular season for the second year in a row and are led by the MVP elect in quarterback Aaron Rodgers. His calm head is going to be just as vital as his defense-shredding arm in the coming weeks. He has been there before and will not shy away from the bright postseason lights.
When you consider the Ravens are my third-ranked team in the AFC, you get the sense of how strong that conference is this season. I love the fact that the Ravens are doing it a different way. Whereas the likes of Mahomes, Allen, Rodgers and Tom Brady are throwing it all over the yard, Baltimore pound you on the ground and play stout, aggressive defense. That could yet end up being enough.
There is a token nod to the run in Tampa, but this playoff charge is all about Tom Brady’s right arm – which looks pretty damn good for a 43 year old – and his connection with a trio of outstanding receivers in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown. We should also give a nod to an offensive line that kept Brady clean last week against one of the best pass rushes in football.
I’m primed for the Saints to make me look foolish here as I have dropped this team two spots this week. I was just not that impressed with their first-round win over Chicago. It’s not that there was stuff to get upset about, they just didn’t do much to excite. But they will feel confident of advancing to the NFC title game with two convincing wins against Tampa Bay already under their belts in 2020.
This may not be well documented as the Browns get set to march into Arrowhead Stadium, but Baker Mayfield has a better quarterback rating than Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes since Week 12. Mayfield has a QB mark of 105.0 compared to Mahomes’ 97.6. The form of Mayfield – he has thrown 14 touchdown passes and one pick since Week 12 – is a big reason the Browns are in these playoffs.
Sean McVay’s men may be my lowest-ranked remaining playoff team, but I mean no disrespect to the defense which is looking dominant against the one form of attack you want to be dominant against in 2020… the pass. On offense, the Rams are going to lean heavily on rookie rusher Cam Akers (he gained 176 yards from scrimmage in the wild card round) because Jared Goff is not close to 100 percent.