The Chiefs have played some close games of late, but the feeling is that they can step on the gas whenever a more aggressive approach is needed. The only nagging concern is that teams like Miami and Atlanta harried Patrick Mahomes and he has been held under a 100 passer rating in four straight games. A blip or a blueprint for other teams facing the Chiefs to follow?
I’m a believer in these Bills and I have just submitted my Super Bowl Challenge picks to Sky Sports for this weekend. I’m big on Buffalo, is all I’m going to say at this stage! Josh Allen has grown to become one of the very best quarterbacks in the game, Stefon Diggs is uncoverable at the moment and the defense is playing much better. Buffalo have won six in a row and are the NFL’s form team.
Aaron Rodgers has been shredding defenses all season long with 48 touchdown passes and just five interceptions. I see that continuing on the NFC side of the playoff draw, especially with the games being played on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Davante Adams, Robert Tonyan and Aaron Jones are nice stories but the Packers, once again, are emphatically Aaron Rodgers’ team.
We focus so much of our attention on Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and the folks on the offensive side of the ball in New Orleans. To that point, let’s see if superstar Michael Thomas can get back for the playoffs and what kind of shape he will be in. But we should also credit a New Orleans D that ranks in the top five of the NFL in seven different categories. This is a complete team.
Along with Buffalo, I think the Ravens are the hottest team heading into the playoffs and Tennessee won’t be delighted to see them this weekend. The Ravens are running for fun once again, as evidenced by gaining more than 400 on the ground against Cincinnati in Week 17, and that opens up passing lanes for Lamar Jackson, who needs to have a good playoff run after two disappointing postseasons.
Tom Brady has been here before, albeit in the AFC playoffs. He knows what it takes to guide a team to the Super Bowl and TB12 looks in fine form to make another run. The deep ball is back and clicking for a Bucs offense that has not been held under 24 points since Week 9. Washington rookie Chase Young says he is coming for Brady this weekend. Brady will be ready and waiting with the better team.
The awakening of Seattle’s defense has been one of the stories of the sprint finish to these playoffs. Since Week 12, the Seahawks D has allowed just 14 points (1st in NFL) and 290 yards (3rd in NFL) per game. That has taken some pressure of Seattle’s offense and that’s a good thing because the passing attack has been slowed. D.K. Metcalf has not had a 100-yard day since Week 12 at Philadelphia.
It’s tough to work out who these Steelers are going to be come the business end of this season. They started 11-0, lost three in a row, bombed in the first half against Indianapolis in Week 16 before bouncing back in the second half to win a big one. They then rested starters in a Week 17 loss to Cleveland. Ben Roethlisberger and a bunch of big-name stars return from a week off on Sunday night.
As has been the case all season long, it’s going to be all about the big three if the Titans are to repeat their 2019 feats with a deep run to the AFC Championship Game. Derrick Henry is the 2,000-yard rusher who is about to get a ton of work, while Ryan Tannehill to AJ Brown will be the big passing game connections. Tennessee’s worst-ranked D recorded just 19 sacks in 16 regular season games.
This has been a promising year for the Colts and I think they become even more of an NFL force once they find a more youthful and long-term answer at quarterback. Philip Rivers has been good for 2021 but it’s hard to predict this team’s future with him at the helm. The running game is strong with rookie Jonathan Taylor leading the way and the defense makes timely big plays week in and week out.
Covid-19 will see the Browns embark on their first playoff adventure in 18 years without head coach Kevin Stefanski and long-suffering Pro Bowl offensive guard Joel Bitonio. The running game is going to be vital if any kind of postseason run is going to be put together but the odds seem to be stacked against the Browns as they head to Pittsburgh.
If the old adage about defense winning championships is true, these Rams should be higher up my list because they have the top-ranked unit in scoring, total yards allowed and passing. But I feel that is more is required on the other side of the ball in today’s NFL and I would be worried about Jared Goff at quarterback even if he were not coming off a broken thumb on his throwing hand.
Washington are playing with the proverbial house money as they get set for these playoffs. They were not supposed to be here in Ron Rivera’s first season in charge so they can feel good about this 2020 season, no matter what happens from here on out. Young players such as running back Antonio Gibson, receiver Terry McLaurin and defensive end Chase Young are tremendous building blocks.
Few expected the Bears to get into the postseason, either, but here they are at 8-8 thanks to the Los Angeles Rams’ Week 17 win over Arizona. But Chicago are not playing with as much freedom as Washington. Matt Nagy could still feel some heat at head coach and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is playing for his future with the Bears. They are not ready for this big stage and won’t last long.