40 thoughts on “2020-2021 NFL Playoffs: Wildcard Round

  1. Which team, if they lost, would be the most surprising? I think that’s a good question, because for me, I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the favorites lost. The exceptions might be the Saints, or possibly the Buccaneers, although I wouldn’t be too surprised if this happened as well. The WFT and the Bears have good defenses. If their defenses play well, and they can run well or at least control the ball, it wouldn’t be totally surprising if they win. Having said this, I would predict the Bucs and Saints to win.

    The Colts-Bills and Ravens-Titans are the two games that really interest me. If Rivers plays well, especially taking care of the football, they can beat the Bills. I’ve liked the Titans, but, man, their defense has looked kinda bad recently. Henry is going to have to have a huge game, like last year, to limit the snaps of their defense–although it seems like their defense is so bad, that won’t matter.

    I’m interested in the Seahawks game, too, of course. It’ll be interesting to see if the Seahawk defense can replicate their performance. Their offense hasn’t been looking good, though.

    1. I agree with Reid about the Buccaneers and Saints being the least likely to (and therefore most surprising if they) lose, but neither outcome would shock me.

      The surprising thing about the Colts this past month, the thing that could be the real difference-maker, is the awakening of their run game. They seem to have hit peak ground game in a really impressive fashion.

      Least surprising upsets would be Rams over Seahawks, Browns over Steelers, and Ravens over Titans.

      Tripleheaders on regular broadcast TV Saturday and Sunday. With all the raves canceled next weekend, guess I’ll settle in and OD on football.

    2. Titans may be the higher seed, but I tend to think of them as underdogs in this. I’d be more surprised if they win than if the Ravens win.

  2. The Bills great season got them a first round game with probably the second most dangerous team (only to the Chiefs) in the playoffs. I’ve heard the Bills’ defense has been improving but Indy really could gash them on the ground and control the ball.

    If there were fans I would really like the Football Team in the upset. The Football Team’s offense seem pretty capable in their mini-win streak with Alex Smith.

    The Ram’s defense has really carried this team all season. And if they can hold Seattle’s offense again like the last game, Cam Aker’s health can be the difference in this game, if the Rams would be a little more willing to stick to the run.

    All that being said if I had to bet, I would go all the favorites – Bills, Seahawks, Bucs, Ravens, Saints, Steelers. But if given good odds (more money to take a dog), I would go Rams, Football Team, and Browns. I might even pick the Browns, but I’m not confident in their Covid issues. Their head coach will not be at this game I would assume.

    1. I don’t know if the Colts are the second most dangerous team–I’d choose the Packers over them. But among the “dark horses,” I think the Colts and the Ravens are the two most dangerous teams. I’m inclined to put the Titans in there, but I hesitate because of their defense.

      The Colts could gash the Bills on the ground, but it’s hard to say. A big factor will be the health of their OL.

      With Smith and a good run game, I think the WFT has a chance. I think the Bucs OL is exploitable, especially with WFT DL.

      I’d probably go with the favorites, too, but it would not surprise me many lost.

    2. I forgot to mention the Rams-Seahawks game. Akers’s return could be a factor, if he’s healthy, but a bigger deal might be the return of Andrew Whitworth. The key to the game is who wins in the trenches–particularly the Seahawks front seven vs. Rams OL/TEs. I think the Seahawks won that battle in the last game, for the first time since McVay has been there. Whitworth can be a huge difference maker. Also, Jarran Reed and Jamal Adams are questionable to play at this point–that, too, can tip the scales.

      The Seahawks offense has to play better. The Rams D is good, but the Seahawks should be able to move the ball better, even if they can’t get into the end zone a lot. The personnel is not a legitimate excuse for how they’ve been playing.

      By the way, do you guys think the Rams defense is great? They’re very good, but I wouldn’t put them in the dominant/great category. What makes it difficult is that they really haven’t played a lot of good offenses–the Bills, Bucs, and if you count the Cardinals and Seahawks.

      1. Yeah I don’t consider the Ram’s defense great. They don’t have much stars either outside of Donald and Ramsey. I thought Littleton was good for them last year, but I have no idea how he did with the Raiders this year. That being said though, they seem to be the more consistent group for this year’s Rams.

        1. If you mean, the most consistent defense in the league, I would agree. (I don’t think Littleton’s performance stood out.) But they played a lot of bad offenses/teams as well. It’s like the Hawks recent games. Seahawks commentators mention they’re one of the best defenses now. While I think they have made big improvements, I want to see how they play against offenses like the Packers, Chiefs, Saints, and Bucs.

  3. No I mean as compared to the Ram’s offense, the defense is much more consistent. The Ram’s offense had some great games, but they also had some really bad games. The defense was much more consistent and the better of the two groups. This is a first for a McVay’s Rams, I think.

  4. QBs in the playoffs

    The QBs in the playoffs are an interesting topic. For example, I’m only truly confident about one QB–in terms of his ability to do what it takes to win the Super Bowl–and that would be Aaron Rodgers.

    Actually, I would put Russ in this category as well, but his play–and the style of the offense–have given me pause. He and the offense have looked like one that has put all their eggs in the “passing basket.” The ball security of QB’s in this situation have not been totally dependable in my view. The problem seems to have gone away in the last several games, but not enough to erase these concerns.

    Mahomes would be next, but he’s still young. He also had two picks in the Super Bowl last year, and the Chiefs OL has look shaky. If Edwards-Helaire doesn’t play or isn’t much of a factor, that could lead to turnovers.

    Good, but unproven

    Ryan Tannehill–He’s had a great year, and he looks like he’s in a zone; his confidence is really high. He reminds of Prescott in ’16, Palmer/Newton in ’15. They string together good games (with good pass pro), and that puts them in the zone all year. He’s even looked good when the team has had to pass. Now, he has to prove he carry this into the playoffs–protecting the ball and making the handful of critical plays, especially in the big moments.

    Lamar Jackson–Same as the last sentence–and he’s going to have to show he can do this in the pocket.

    Josh Allen: Man, he’s looked really good all year. Earlier, I thought he’d be too reckless. He seems to have eliminated that behavior. We’ll see if it carries through the play offs.

    Old gunsEven bigger question marks

    Mayfield, Goff/Wolford and Trubisky/Foles

    If I were a Bears fan I think I’d want Foles to play–because Foles has shown he can make the handful of big plays. I’d have a quick hook for Trubisky.

    1. Did you change your mind about an “old guns” section and go with a new category instead? Trying to figure out the thinking here.

    2. What the heck? That whole section was deleted for some reason.

      Brady, Brees, Rivers, and Roethlisberger were the names I had in mind. I basically said that the might have stretches where they play old and that could cause them to lose. (I can’t say that about Rivers, though. He played really well–maybe the best he’s played all year.)

  5. Side note: DeShaun Watson trade talk

    I doubt there is any substance to this, but it’s fun to think about where he could go. Who should make a trade for him? And where would the best fits be?

    The firs team that came to mind is the Dolphins. (Sorry, Tua.) I think that would make them contender. They’ve got a lot of good picks they could trade, too. The Jets would be another team, but I doubt that would be a good situation for Watson. Same with the Jaguars.

    I guess the Colts would another obvious one, but I would be so upset if I were a Texans fan.

    What about Detroit trading Stafford and a bunch of picks? This might be better for the Texans. I think Detroit needs their picks to build up their roster.

    Some Seattle fans worried about him going to the Rams or Niners, but someone mentioned that the cap space isn’t good for both teams. I think it would be hard for the Rams, but what if the Niners traded someone like Nick Bosa and maybe a couple other picks? I think I would seriously consider doing this if I were the Niners, given the way the defense played without key players. (Then again, Saleh may leave.)

    I would also be happy if the Raiders got Watson. I’m not sure he’d be happy there, and the Raiders have to fix their defense.

    1. Outside of Mahomes or for you maybe even including Mahomes, if you had to take a QB for the next 5-7 years, would it be Watson?

      I think it’s too early to be down on Tua. Everyone knew Tua’s arm-strength wasn’t NFL caliber, but some experts thought his vision, smarts, and guile or imagination (not sure how to word it) would be what carries him. I think we’ve seen glimpses of it. I think when looking at Tua against Burrows and Herbert, he doesn’t look great, but I think there is enough there right now not to be down on Tua. Add to that his receiving group could be bottom three in the league and they don’t have a great RB either. I would definitely choose Tua over Jalen Hurts right now. If Tua comes around, this QB class could be on the way to matching Elway, Marino, and Kelly class.

    2. I would normally say Russ, but the way he played this year, particularly the second half, and after yesterday, gives me pause. But Watson would be in there–and I actually feel slightly more confident about him than Mahomes. If Mahomes could play for Andy Reid, I’d take him, too, but I’m not sure how good he’d be with another OC. I don’t think O’Brien is great, and Watson showed he can still perform at a high level.

      It is too early to bail on Tua, but whether he’s a true franchise QB is a big question. That’s not true for Watson. If you can somehow get Watson, while not giving up too much, your team would likely be a playoff team for the next ten years.

      I think Tua needs a better OL, but I thought his pass-catchers were solid–not bottom three. Parker seems good, same with Geseki (TE). I would concentrate on the OL–and then get a good OC. But Tua’s arm strength looks really weak. Someone mentioned Chad Pennington, and I think that’s apt. (I liked Pennington, by the way.)

      1. Russ in his late 30’s would be your pick? 7 years from now he is 40?

        Parker? I don’t think he is a legitimate number 1 WR in the league anymore. I actually thought Preston Williams was the Dolphins most promising WR, but he got hurt. But that’s sort of saying a lot because I think he was undrafted. I agree Gesicki is pretty good, but I’m not even sure he is a top ten TE. Would you take him over a Hockenson? What about Noah Fant? I think I would lean Fant (who wasn’t great but I think that’s because of QB play) and Hockenson.

        I’m going to guess you would rather build a OL just about every single time over a WR corp. That’s fair and I would probably agree, but man if Tua can reunite with Heisman winner Smith that might be awesome.

    3. You don’t think Russ would play at a high level for another 5 years, possibly 7?

      With Parker, I actually thought he looked better this year. When he received a contract, I didn’t think he was that good, but he looked better than I thought he was this year. Preston Williams looked promising, too. I don’t know if I would choose Giseki over Hockenson and Fant. Giseki seems more like a receiving TE in the mold of Kelce, but the point is that the receiving weapons seem solid.

      The OL, on the other hand, seem shaky, especially for a shorter QB like Tua. If the Dolphins commit to him, they should follow the Saints–prioritize the OL, particularly the interior.

    4. It’s too early to make a ruling on Tua, as you both say, but heck yes: if you can get Watson in such a way it helps the team you have right now, you have to get him.

      I’m with Don on the Miami receivers, though. You don’t know what they have with Preston, and Parker would be a lot better as someone’s number two. The problem with Giesecke is that someone had to catch the Dolphins’ passes, so he got a lot of targets and made some good catches, but he’s not a Waller or Kelce, so you don’t want him to be your first option. I don’t dislike the receivers, but I have no faith in them.

      Plus, Tua has played like seven games, and he’s coming off a terrible injury and surgery. Far too early to tell how good he is.

      Which teams are basically a QB away? Candidates for me are the Dolphins and Colts, and maybe the WFT and Jets, whom I think are better than they look. And Carolina if McCaffrey comes back close to form. The Patriots are more than a QB away, but with their coach maybe not. I would love to see what New England could do with Watson.

  6. Colts-Bills

    First half, both teams look really good, and both playing well for the most part. Rivers passing and the Colts ST, helping win the field position game, were the two big factors in my view.

    The decision for the Colts to go for it instead of kicking the FG seems significant….The Bills drive to score a TD was impressive. (14-10)

    Second half

    (Man, it seems like Rivers is 100% on 3rd downs–5:00 minutes left in the 3rd.)

    Colts missed FG.

    Man, Allen’s fumble could have been so huge.

    The decision to go for it instead of kicking the FG, and missing the other were huge. Rivers played a heck of a game. I liked the game Reich called.

    Both teams played like top tier teams.

    1. I thought the way the Colts handled the last couple minutes wasn’t great. They had over two minutes to just get a field goal and ran out of time. The Bills defense held up in that last drive despite being bad the two drives prior.

    2. I can’t really remember the last two minutes, so I can’t really comment. Overall, though, I thought I Reich did a good job. Rivers played well. His whole team played well. The Bills played better.

      That’s more than I can say about the Seahawks.

  7. Rams-Seahawks

    Seahawks offense is broken. They were putrid. It seemed like the Rams only had 3 D-linemen at times. I’ve been wanting the run game to be more of a factor. Would have came in handy in this game.

    The defense did a valiant job, but they were playing a lot.

    1. Goff was horrible too. I would say he wasn’t in shape to play, but Wolford got injured. Akers and Kupp was injured in the end too. That will make a terrible offense worse going forward. Add to that Donald got hurt.

      By the way what happen to Lockett this year. Was he injured? I heard if you removed like three or four games this year, his stats would have been horrible. I didn’t watch the whole game but he seem nonexistent.

      1. Wasn’t Goff playing with a broken finger on his throwing hand? I’m annoyed I missed the second half of this game — I had to run a thirty-minute errand that took ninety minutes instead. Ugh.

    2. The thing is, the Rams ran the ball fairly well and controlled the clock. I’m not a fan of Goff, but he wasn’t healthy, so it’s kinda unfair to get down on him.

      He sprained his knee and some fans think that was it. I think it could just be the play calling, too. The offense has looked bad for a long stretch. (The Rams DL manhandled the Hawks OL, I thought, too.)

      1. I wasn’t being overly critical of Goff, and was trying to say his injury was the cause of his horrible play by saying, “he wasn’t in shape to play”. There were a handful of throws that just came out of his hand awfully. The Rams were like running on third and long because of it.

    1. I heard AB has really turned it on in the last few weeks, but don’t count me in as a person that trust this offense. The Buc’s offense was crushed by the Saints’ D in the last game and I think it’s possible that it wasn’t a fluke. I think if defenses can limit the Buc’s long plays, Arian’s and the offense can struggle.

    2. I don’t fully trust this offense, but they looked good. Brady can have some bad throws. (#14, forget his last name, had three horrible drops, too.) But I tend to think you have to stop the run and make them one-dimensional. If you stop the deep passes, they can run effectively. In the past, they were willing to run a lot, but I’m not sure that’s the case now.

    3. I watched nearly every Tampa Bay possession with my eyes on Chase Young. The guy’s lateral pursuit of running backs is pretty scary, but on pass protection, Tampa’s left tackle (#76, Donovan Smith, I think) was totally handling him. It was impressive.

    4. A part of me feels like Young and the entire pass rush was a tad overrated. I’ve seen games where they were seemed to be non-factors (versus the Seahawks and Lions). I wouldn’t be surprised if they become way better next year, though.

  8. Ravens-Titans

    Good game. I thought the Titans defense did a solid job. Jackson played well for the most part, except for that INT.

    I wish the Titans WR didn’t fall down, because I wanted to see if Tannehill could lead them down for a score with 4:00 minutes left.

  9. Bears-Saints

    I thought the Bears made a good showing, especially on defense. Even Trubisky did a decent job. (Mims dropping that TD pass was brutal.) The Saints were just the better team all around.

    1. I forgot to say that I was kind of impressed with Manti Teo, as I’ve always been kind of impressed by him. Guy doesn’t miss tackles. I love how he wraps guys up. I hope he lands a job next season based on his performance in this game.

  10. Browns-Steelers

    A disastrous start for the Steelers. The Steelers D didn’t look very good, too. The other playoff game that reminded me of this was the Patriots against the Ravens–in ’08? I fast-forwarded to different points after 28-0.

    1. Roethlisberger found his groove for a while. It looked like the Steelers could come back, and I found myself unwillingly rooting for them. Ah well. It looks like Ben’s done, hm?

    2. He should definitely consider retiring.

      Or, they should switch to a more run based offense. They’ve got the OL, and a physical defense (especially the front seven). They should have made this move last year.

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