We have reached a new decade. Perhaps new found hopes and dreams are a set of goals for this time and maybe seeing your team win a championship or two. The NFL playoffs are here. Seventeen intriguing weeks for around twelve teams trying to stick to their goal of winning the Lombardi Trophy. Their stories are what follows:
AFC Wild Card Round: Saturday, 4:35 PM (ESPN, ABC)
(5) Buffalo Bills vs. (4) Houston Texans @ NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
(5) Buffalo Bills: Well, this hasn’t been the site of the Bills that we have seen in ages. The Buffalo Bills are a legitimate playoff contender. This isn’t like 2017, where they made the playoffs off of sheer luck. Their defense has been the strongest in recent memory. This is the bedrock of their rebuild: Start from the trenches and build outward. It’s a good start to something long-term, but I don’t think their truly ready just yet. Their offense is flat at best. Quarterback Josh Allen has been progressing slowly and is a glorified running back most of the time. If he is dialed in, the game is suspect and his receivers can’t catch the ball. It’s lose-lose. The Bills are only going as far the offense can take them. They just need more time to adjust.
(4) Houston Texans: The Texans are the four seasons. Spring is about when the season starts, they hit their stride in the middle, they have questions at the end, and then they lose in the Wild Card Round…every time. This year doesn’t feel any different. Do not lecture me about Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins. I will hear none of it. Not that patch-worth secondary full of first round busts, not with head coach Bill O’Brien coming anywhere close to unlocking this team’s full potential. I do not care if they are dragging J.J. Watt back for the playoffs just so he can end up getting re-injured. This is what happens when they give Bill O’Brien power: Hamster wheels. Don’t let me down, Houston, or we WILL have a problem!
AFC Wild Card Round: Saturday, 8:15 PM (CBS)
(6) Tennessee Titans vs. (3) New England Patriots @ Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA
(6) Tennessee Titans: A 9 – 7 record is this team’s destiny. Embrace it, Titans. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just means that they will never achieve anything greater than this. Not to say that this year was more of the same. It just appears that they have found another gear to this effort. They have a wrecking ball and his name is Derrick Henry. They used necromancy to revive Ryan Tannehill’s dead career. Will it lead them to anywhere notable? Who knows. But what they could do for us: Eliminate the Patriots. They will have a lot of fans on their side if they beat them. No one will care if they get smoked by the Baltimore Ravens afterwards. It is their duty to get this done. Make sure of it, Titans!
(3) New England Patriots: I know what you’re thinking: The Patriots are scarce and we should all celebrate their appending due. This has been playing right into their hands. We’ve been calling New England a “dead team” for over a decade, yet they somehow find another way to summon a new demon spirit to revive them. You will tell me that their offense is garbage, that Tom Brady has aged about 10 years this season, their wide receivers are Julian Edelman and a pile of rubbish, but I am still not convinced. Forgive me if I refuse to call them dead. I won’t do so until the Patriots are seen buried in a lead-casket, 12 feet underground beside a wall that is shut and full of concrete. I smell Super Bowl afoot, especially with the defense that they have. Everyone else will be shocked to see how “bad” they really are. I am a die-hard Boston fan, and nobody outside of New England wants this team to win. If they don’t, you could see Tom Brady and Bill Belichick gone, and be stuck with Josh McDaniels possibly becoming head coach. We can only hope…
(2) Kansas City Chiefs: If there is one thing that I will give this team is that they appear to have the most momentum that one can physically consume. With the offense led by reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes II, lightning fast receiver Tyreek Hill, Double Me Madden Badge lockup receiver in Sammy Watkins, slippery running back Damien Williams, and powerhouse tight end Travis Kelce, the sky is always the limit. But there is always something about the Chiefs. It is not Andy Reid, their head coach who chokes every year in the playoffs, but their defense. I’m not sold on it. Their pass rushers are inconsistent, and mostly have been sturdy as of late because the Honey Badger, Tyrann Mathieu, has been playing lights-out football. This team can be torched if the right team faces them. That has been proven repeatedly this season. This team has everything to prove. Playoff failure will not be accepted this year and there are no excuses to save them this time around. It would only be worse if New England comes back and haunts them with deja vu from last year’s playoff failure.
(1) Baltimore Ravens: To be honest, I didn’t expect this team to be so dominating. From losing a lot of talent on defense including MLB C.J. Mosley to the Jets, with an offense with serious questions about sustainability, there’s a reason to be skeptical. They have proved me wrong time and time again. Lamar Jackson has become the return of Michael Vick. He can not only run, he can throw, too. The offense caters to its strengths and the tight ends swoop in when you think you have them cornered. Even the defense has been better than anticipated. With new emerging talent in cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, safeties Earl Thomas III and Tony Jefferson, and defensive tackle Michael Pierce, this team hasn’t missed a single beat. We all think that this team is mere unstoppable, but this team IS mortal. The only way to beat them is at their own game and punch them right in the mouth relentlessly. If one team can stop Lamar Jackson, the whole team will stop this team dead in its tracks. Will it last for 60 minutes, though? There lies the challenge.
NFC Wild Card Round: Sunday, 1:05 PM (FOX)
(6) Minnesota Vikings vs. (3) New Orleans Saints @ Mercedes-Benz Stadium, New Orleans, LA
(6) Minnesota Vikings: Here comes the ultimate challenge for a team that knows nothing but pain. Not only must the team climb and jump around the playoffs as the sixth seed, but they also must overcome every single obstacle coming their way. This team must prove that they can perform in critical situations, that Dalvin Cook is fully healthy and ready to play with no setbacks and be able to carry the load, and Kirk Cousins must defeat the infamous narrative that he can’t elevate the team around him in big games. Then and ONLY then will the Vikings cast off their many years of horrible failure in the playoffs. Nobody expects anything out of them this year and that might be their best advantage going forward. They strike me as a team that somehow give their fans hope, but only to rip it away at the last moment. It happened last time they made the playoffs. They won in what would be called the “Minneapolis Miracle” in the NFC Divisional Round back in 2017. The Vikings were down 24 – 23 against the New Orleans Saints with 10 seconds left in the game. Stefon Diggs caught a pass thrown by Case Keenum and Saints’ safety, Marcus Williams, missed the tackle entirely. This caused Diggs to run 61 yards to the endzone in a miraculous win, advancing them to the NFC Championship, when they got blown out by the Philadelphia Eagles, 38 – 7. Something tells me this will happen again, but the question is: How?
(3) New Orleans Saints: It’s time. You know exactly what I mean by this. After 2 consecutive years of two of the most painful eliminations in this league’s history have brought about desperation for credibility. Drew Brees is now on borrowed time. Who knows if this could be his last ride to battle or not. Every offensive coordinator that faces them has only two words in all caps on the whiteboard: Eli Apple; just throw to whomever he’s covering. There is no doubt that this team has talent throughout every position. The question is how they will screw it up this year? On paper, this team has a great chance of making the Super Bowl. However, they keep self-destructing. They are all out of lives this time as this is their last shot. If they come up short yet again, it will become a truly lost window of making the big time again for a while.
NFC Wild Card Round: Sunday, 4:40 PM (NBC)
(5) Seattle Seahawks vs. (4) Philadelphia Eagles @ Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
(5) Seattle Seahawks: Well, Seahawks, this year is a critical challenge for this team. It is not that they lack talent, but this team has been given injuries like parking tickets and airport terminals. Running backs Chris Carson, C.J. Prosise, and Rashaad Penny are all injured, forcing the reincarnation of “Beastmode” Marshawn Lynch. Defensively though, I wish their injuries were the reason behind their underperformance. Either that, or they just don’t have it anymore. However, if there is one thing that I can tip my cap off to is that the Seahawks are somehow the road warriors of the league. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is, they have had significant amount of victories over solid performing teams. But the problem is: Are they too injured to keep up the magic? It would be nice if we can trust their running game in these troubling times.
(4) Philadelphia Eagles: This team doesn’t belong here, plain and simple. We can all see it in their eyes. This team has finished the season with a whimper as they finished the season 9 – 7 and winning their division. Should we be thankful that the Cowboys imploded in Week 16 again? We’d better be. What is worse about this team is that they are playing their backups at runningback, wide receivers, and defensive core. Is this a cruel joke? Are we all here just to suffer? Perhaps this will be like Nelson Agholor and showing us what they are truly made of. I expect nothing from Carson Wentz, because if he loses, Philly fans will immediately demand Nick Foles back. Priorities, am I right?
(2) Green Bay Packers: Do not give me this team’s whole “13 – 3 record” crap. This Packers team may fancy themselves as a super league team with Super Bowl aspirations, but I see right through them. Yes, the surface numbers are great, but actually watch them play and there will be second opinions about this team. They have severe flaws. This team cannot play a full 60 minute game. They will shut down randomly on offense, waiting for the refs to give them the advantage. Aaron Rodgers is overthrowing everyone left-and-right, their defense shows flashes but decides to imitate the terrible defense they used to have. They have won every game in ugly and unconvincing fashion, even against terrible teams. The Packers are nothing but frauds. Just talking about this team makes me suspect that they will stumble into playoff success because why not?
(1) San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers were really hard to tell of their success from the preseason. They were supposed to be a mediocre team, but last year was just a massive letdown and full of injuries. Now though, we see their full potential. The defense is a machine, with elite defensive line play with strong linebackers, and a complimenting secondary to boot. No matter this team has for talent, this run has come off of one man and one man only: Jimmy Garoppolo. There are games where he has shown the ability to single-handedly lead this team to victory. They will definitely need more of that. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has his own playoff redemption from when he was offensive coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons and when they lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl, so don’t expect this team to have any “moral” victories. Tight end George Kittle is no man, but he is a machine, resisting anything like a God against fleas. Let’s just hope their injuries from the past don’t come back to haunt them.
We can only pray that the Super Bowl doesn’t go to New England. Just watch it as it probably will be the Patriots winning it all again. My prediction of the Super Bowl will be a tight one, especially with the amount of talent on every team…except the Eagles. My prediction will be: the rematch of Super Bowl 47, Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers. I think Jimmy-Jesus will carry the team with George Kittle’s fierce game play and Lamar Jackson will run around every team in his path. But for the winner, I will have to go with San Francisco. George Kittle will run over everybody in sight, Jimmy Garoppolo will throw 4 touchdowns, and rookie defensive end, Nick Bosa, will shut down Jackson and runningback Mark Ingram II. Kyle Shanahan will finally get his redemption from Super Bowl 51. Let’s make this happen, 49ers. Don’t let me down!