The NFL Playoffs


Finally, the NFL playoffs have arrived!

Pike Temple, Reporter

Super Wildcard Weekend, two days boasting triple headers between the best teams in the NFL. There were some exciting matchups, and some others left more to be desired. However, football is football. Here’s a recap.


Wildcard Weekend Recap

Bills v. Colts: The AFC Championship-bound projected Bills slipped past a strong Colts team when playing at their best, which they were near to on Saturday. With the ball in the final two minutes of the game, and only down by three, a road win for Indianapolis seemed possible. A couple first downs led the offense to midfield, but the stingy Bills secondary stood their ground, knocking down a hail mary attempt in the final seconds.J osh Allen played out of his mind for Buffalo, but the Bills D-line had trouble getting to old timer Philip RIvers while protected by an Indianapolis O-line drenched in experience and regarded as one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.


Rams v. Seahawks: The Seahawks came into the game as favorites with the Rams sitting former starting QB Jared Goff due to a broken thumb (on his throwing hand) from the week prior. When newly named starter, John Wolford, got injured in the first quarter and was later sent to the hospital, Goff, with pins in his thumb, led LA to a win. As expected, the already struggling Seahawks offense were unable to put up enough points against a stout Rams defense. Even though the Seattle defense played some of their best football all season, it wasn’t enough to win at home against LA who the Seahawks just beat 20-9 two weeks prior.


Buccaneers v. Washington: The Buccaneers were heavy favorites coming into the game against the 7-9 Washington Football Team that hasn’t had the strongest offense this season, but with a rising defense led by the rookie Chase Young, the future looks somewhat bright. The future looks even brighter for Washington if they hold onto former Old Dominion QB Taylor Heinicke. Playing for injured vet Alex Smith, Heinicke impressed with his playmaking ability, movement in the pocket, his ability to scramble, and his throw accuracy on the run. Even though the Washington Football Team lossed, Ron Rivera may have found his starting quarterback for the 2021 season. Tom Brady looked comfortable in the Tampa offense, putting up 31 points. However, the Bucs defense will have to play more consistently to hold the more explosive offenses still in the playoffs to under 25 points if the Bucs want a chance to make it all the way to the SuperBowl.


Titans v. Ravens: Lamar Jackson, once again, showed that he can still carry his offense to a win over a playoff caliber opponent, rushing and passing for over 100 yards apiece, finishing the game with over 300 total yards. The bigger story, however, was the Ravens defense holding running back Derrick Henry, who rushed for 2,000 yards this season, to under 50 yards on the day and an average yards per carry ratio of about two yards per attempt. 


Saints v. Bears: Although the score going into halftime was Saints 7 Bears 3, Chicago had kept up with the Saints, and could have gone into the half ahead if only wide receiver Javon Wims hadn’t dropped a pass from Mitchell Trubisky while uncovered in the endzone. Both teams’ defenses shined in the first half. The second half, unfortunately for the bears defense, did not go the same as the first. The Saints scored 14 points to the Bear’s 6, winning the game without much difficulty.


Browns v. Steelers: Nobody expected the Browns would go up 28-0 in the first quarter. Even though the Steelers did end up putting 37 points by the time the clock hit triple zeroes, Big Ben had a rough game, throwing multiple interceptions early on. The Browns on the other hand were humming on all cylinders. Cleveland’s offensive line played like it could be the best in the NFL and running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt could not be stopped. Although the Steelers defense was thought of as one of the best in the AFC, the Browns offensive juggernaut was too much to handle. Cleveland’s 48 points were the most scored wildcard weekend. The Browns’ win on Sunday was their first playoff victory in almost two decades.


Pike’s Picks

Rams v. Packers: The Packers are coming off the Bye since they were awarded the number 1 seed in the NFC. The Packers will also have home field advantage and be playing at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, one of the hardest places to play in the winter months. Even though the Rams defense is coming off an exceptional performance against the Seahawks, Rams star DT Aaron Donald sustained a rib injury, and WR Cooper Kupp, a knee injury. It is yet to be announced if Kupp is going to play come Saturday, however, it has been announced that Donald will play through the pain this weekend. According to coach Sean McVay, “We’ll be smart with him throughout the week, but I do think that if there’s anything that he’s gonna do, he’s gonna do everything in his power to be ready to go.” As stated by McVay on Tuesday, “Unless something unforeseen happens, the Terminator will be ready.” The Rams look banged up, especially at the quarterback position. Jared Goff underwent thumb surgery two weeks prior and alternative option, John Wolford, departed the Ram’s wildcard game in an ambulance. I believe the LA defense will give the Packers some fits early on and will be a good challenge for the Packers high scoring offense led by Aaron Rodgers. Lookout for the matchup between Packers wideout Devante Adams and LA CB Jalen Ramsey. Similar offensive schemes and defenses playing at a high level in recent weeks, I think the deciding factor will be the weather in Green Bay and that Wolford or Goff, whoever is named the starter come Saturday, will have trouble throwing the ball in the cold. I have the Packers winning this one, 28-24. 


Ravens v. Bills: The Ravens defense came off an outstanding performance as well against the Titans. However, the Bills offense looks to be a little more potent when it comes to passing the football. I think that Lamar Jackson will be forced to scramble a lot more often than last week, due to a strong Bills secondary. I see Marquise Brown as being the X-factor for the Ravens in this game and if coach John Harbaugh is able to use Hollywood Brown effectively, could be Buffalo’s kryptonite. Josh Allen has looked great this season and is starting to look like the quarterback the Bills thought he could be when they drafted him as the 7th overall pick in 2018. Stefon Diggs has emerged as Allen’s top target after arriving from Minnesota in free agency. I predict this game will be close as well, but I think that the Bills will pull away with the W. I’ve got the Bills winning 30-27.


Browns v. Chiefs: The Chiefs, the 1 seed of the AFC, aim to reach the Super Bowl in back-to-back seasons. Before the start of the 2020 season, the Chiefs still looked like the best team in the NFL. However, down the home stretch of the regular season, the Chiefs led by former MVP Patrick Mahomes have had some underwhelming games against opponents not expected to give Kansas City a hard time. It will be interesting to see how the Browns coaching staff prepares for the Sunday matchup after the big win against the Steelers. Even after Cleveland’s offensive explosion against a good Pittsburgh defense, I still find it hard to believe that the Browns will have the same amount of success against the Chiefs. I see this game becoming a shootout and I think that the Chiefs will simply put up more points. I bet the Browns playoff push will come to an end in Kansas City where the Chiefs will down the Dogs 31-24.


Buccaneers v. Saints: The Buccaneers defense did not play their best football last week against the Washington Football Team. Both the offense and the defense will have to play better if they want to beat their divisional foe, New Orleans, which has already beaten Tampa twice this season. Interestingly enough, the Saints didn’t play their best football against the Bears either. Even though the final score was 21-9, the first half ended New Orleans 7, Chicago 3. Sure, that scoreline doesn’t sound so bad, but that’s against a Bears offense who has struggled to put points on the scoreboard most of the season. The Bears defense could only keep Chicago in the game for so long. While neither team, the Bucs nor the Saints, played their best ball this past weekend, I believe that both teams will improve either offensively or defensively in the divisional round. Fans can expect another close game. Sorry, Saints fans, but I think that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to pull off the upset this time around. I believe that Tampa will depart the Mercedes-Benz Superdome victorious, defeating the Saints 24-21.


The NFL Playoffs


Sorry, there was an error loading this poll.