29 thoughts on “2020-2021 NFL: Conference Championships

  1. Of these four teams, the Buccaneers defense has the potential to play great. The Packers seem like they have the weakest defense, although they might not be that far from the Bills and Chiefs. Between the Bills and Chiefs, I lean a bit more towards the Bills being better.

    Most of the teams seem to be a offense based teams. In terms of ball security, Brady really concerns me. Can he play these two games without a turnover? I would bet against this–unless the Bucs run a lot and well. Allen has cleaned and improved a lot, but I’m a little nervous about him. I’m most confident about Rodgers, so I guess that gives their team an advantage. (I wouldn’t like the match-up with the Chiefs offense.)

    Buccaneers-Packers

    Out: AB
    In: Vita Vea

    AB could be a big deal. He seemed to really help their offense. At the same time, their pass-catchers were banged up. If everyone else is healthy, this may not be a big deal.

    If Vea is healthy, his addition could be a big deal. If the Bucs can shutdown the Packer run game without getting the secondary involved so often, that’ll better help them to defend the passing game, play action specifically.

    Bills-Chiefs

    Clones in almost all phases. My first thought: the team whose run game is more of a factor wins. I’m tending to thinking both defenses will be about the same–good, but not great.

  2. Bucs, Pack

    Reid said that Tampa may have the best defense, and overall I would agree. However, although Tampa has some flashy defensive players especially at LB, they haven’t looked as good as last season. They even seem to have some real issues for good parts of the season. But because I’m not a believer in the Pack, I would lean Tampa Bay. The cold weather could make a difference in this one.

    Bills, Chiefs

    I believe the Chiefs ran a lot in the regular season game. I heard the Bills did everything to take away the big plays. I’m pretty sure though, the game this season was in a streak in which Allen seem to be in a slump. Mitchell, who’s fantasy team Allen seem to carry at times, can confirm. All that being said, I thought the winner of the Ravens, Bills game would beat the Chiefs and I’m sticking to it. I think prior to last week, in which Allen looked pedestrian, the Bills looked like the better team.

    So I got the two visiting teams, but I’m not confident at all.

    1. With regard to the Bucs defense, they were inconsistent, but I think you have to factor in injuries. Devin White and Vita Vea missed considerable amount of time, and Vea really seemed to come on this year. At their best, they looked better than last year’s D.

      If I were a Bucs fan, I would be nervous about Brady’s ball security and age. Next I would be concerned about their run game. If Brady takes care of the ball, and their run game is a significant factor, I would expect them to win.

      All that being said, I thought the winner of the Ravens, Bills game would beat the Chiefs and I’m sticking to it.

      You just think the Chiefs are playing well? I agree they looked shaky at the end of the season, but they looked like they were returning to form against the Ravens.

      1. I surprised that you think there were times Tampa’s D looked better than last year, this year. I seen games last season that made you think they had a top three front seven and maybe a player from being really good. This year they look vulnerable in almost every game. I agree White has the potential to be their best player but I’ve seen games where he looked lost al there. He’s young though. Despite White being amazing last week I still got David as being the better player right now. Did Pierre-Paul get injured this year as well? He seem to be less impactful than last season.

        1. For their defense, I’m talking about how they looked overall. They were one of the defenses that could make it to the great category.

          For their LBs, I’d give the edge to Devin White now, but they need both those guys playing.

          I don’t know if JPP was hurt or not.

          Bucs lost two of their starting safeties in this game. I hope they’ll be able to play in the Super Bowl.

  3. Buccaneers-Packers

    All that’s on my mind are the Buc’s mistakes–not just the 3 INTs, but the one drop by Evans on a bomb, and Brady’s high throw on 2nd and 8 with a little under 5:00 minutes to go. That’s the kind of pass you gotta hit. They convert there, at the very least the Bucs should take off more time.
    (The second pick–would you put that more on Brady or Evans? It’s a tough call for me.)

    The Bucs almost didn’t deserve to win this. The Bucs defense came through to not make those last two turnovers super costly.

    Did you guys think the Packers got a little too one-dimensional in the second half?

    Oh, I forgot: That TD at the end of the half that the Packers gave up was ridiculous. That’s a big reason they lost.

    1. Pack, Bucs

      I actually thought overall the Packers looked like the better team. The Bucs were pretty horrible on offense for most of the game, especially on first and second downs. I think the stat early in the fourth was the Bucs were 8 for 11 on third down, and all of them must have been third and long. Brady did almost lose the game with the three INTs, but he definitely won them the game. Just about everything done on offense was from Brady, with the exception of the one Fournette run.

      The injury to Aaron Jones was huge as well. As Reid stated, the Pack was pretty one dimensional after Brady’s third INT. Part of that may have been the success of Rodgers to get back in the game, but a part had to be Jones sitting. Right before Jones’ fumble, he seem to get going, and then he was out for the game.

    2. I think the stat early in the fourth was the Bucs were 8 for 11 on third down, and all of them must have been third and long.

      I’d use this as evidence their offense was good, not worse than the Packers.

      Brady did almost lose the game with the three INTs, but he definitely won them the game. Just about everything done on offense was from Brady, with the exception of the one Fournette run.

      I’d go with the Bucs defense over Brady. Those two turnovers in the second half were killer, but the Bucs defense forced two punts, keeping them in the game.

      I feel like you’re underestimating the run game. It may have produced huge games, but the Bucs ran enough and mixed it well enough to force the Packers to focus on it. They couldn’t just tee off on Brady.

      In contrast, I think the Packers run game was less of a factor, and the Bucs were able to pressure Rodgers and gets some sacks.

      I’m not sure Jones would have made a big difference. I just get the sense that Rodgers was not want to rely on the run game–that is, he wanted to be in command, throwing more.

      1. Those force punts up five was huge, but that Buc defense had a 18 point cushion and let the Packers back in the game in a blink of an eye. Give up field goals and/or longer drives on both TDs, and the game would have been much more secure.

        I forgot to point out, and I didn’t hear anyone mention it on the broadcasts, but at the end of the half Tampa got two more seconds added the clock. I’m guessing at that point Green Bay’s defense was trying to stop a short out pass and get out of bounds play, which 90% of teams would try to do, to give Tampa a field goal chance. Tampa went for a kill shot and as Reid stated, that was huge.

      2. Forgot to mention that I used the 8 of 11 stat to say how good Brady was in those situations, and not so much the offense overall. The offense overall was pretty bad.

        On the Bucs first TD, Brady had two amazing pinpoint passes (both to Evans, one for the TD) and another long third down conversion to Godwin. Brady had the long pass to Godwin which set up the Fournette TD. All on third down I believe. Brady also added that long TD to end the half to Miller. Brady was an MVP in the first half despite drop balls and a lack of a running game. That came to a halt in a hurry in the second half though.

        1. Why are you (how are you?) separating Brady from the offense? You thought Brady performed well in spite of the poor performance of the supporting cast?

          1. I’m not necessarily separating it, and if you are saying Brady is part of the offense then, that’s fine. I’m just saying that Brady was the part of the offense that made the plays, whereas I cannot say anyone else on the offense (sans the o-line) played well. And you cannot even say Brady played all that well either. Brady put his team in a great position to win the game, but he also put his team in a great position to lose it.

            Are you saying balance alone made the Bucs look like the better offense? I didn’t think the Packers offense looked all that bad. The Packers had one bad red zone series in which Rodgers and/or Adams had two bad missed completions, which really cost them in the end. You are the very one that should be on the side that offenses consistently in third and long cannot win many games.

        2. Ultimately, I would the 3 INTs would make me say Brady did not play well. But when you’re 8 for 11 on 3rd down that’s pretty amazing, for an offense. Is it sustainable? No, but stat points to the offense playing well overall.

          Here’s where balance is–or could be a big factor: You mentioned the Bucs OL played well. That could be one reason they won and the Packers didn’t. The Packers OL has more difficulty, and ultimately the Bucs sacked Rodgers more than Brady (or at least I think they did). Balance–specifically the threat of the run game–contributed to this. Another way of saying this: which offense seemed more noticeably more one-dimensional, at any point in the game? I’d say the Packers. That helps the Bucs defense. Not being so obviously one-dimensional helps the Bucs offense, specifically, their pass protection/passing game.

          Finally, I want say something about 3rd and longs. Yes, that’s not good. But if the Bucs were running a bit more on 1st and 2nd, which lead to 3rd and long, we can say that’s not good offense, on one hand. On the other hand, being willing to have more 3rd and longs, in order to maintain the threat of the run can be worth it. If an offense really tries to avoid 3rd and long, one possible consequence is passing a lot on 1st and 2nd. If you do that, an offense can easily become too one-dimensional. One other thing: not all 3rd and longs are equal. 3rd and 6 is not the same was 3rd and 10. A lot of 3rd and 9s/10s is not good. A lot of 3rd and 6s/7/s is not so bad–especially if you’re keeping the defense honest by running enough times on 1st and 2nd downs. Do you agree with my thinking here?

          1. I wasn’t trying to say the Bucs o-line was playing well. I was merely pointing out when I was talking about the being good on offense, I was talking about the skill position players including the QB. Maybe you can make the argument that the Buc’s o-line played better than Green Bay’s, but if they were, it wasn’t by a lot.

            If the Bucs lost, my guess is on top of Brady’s INTs, you would be saying it’s because they failed to run being up 18. And that would be a true statement. Part of the reason why Brady threw those INTs would be because the Bucs either failed to run the ball effectively or they failed to attempt to run it at all. I was just pointing out, that I thought sans a few plays from Brady, the Buc’s offense look inept.

            One could make the argument that consistently getting to third and long, would make an offense more predictable.

          2. Maybe you can make the argument that the Buc’s o-line played better than Green Bay’s, but if they were, it wasn’t by a lot.

            I think the Bucs sacked Rodgers five times. The Packers didn’t have that many sacks, right? Also, if Rodgers wasn’t as mobile it might have been worse, right? For example, if Brady was quarterbacking the Packers, the Bucs might have gotten more sacks.

            If the Bucs lost, my guess is on top of Brady’s INTs, you would be saying it’s because they failed to run being up 18.

            9:28 minutes left in the 3rd quarter 28-10, Bucs. The next three Buc possessions end in INTs. The first of these occurs after 4 plays, about 1:30 minute of time–2 of these were runs. The second INT occurs after 7 plays and about 3:00 minutes–3 of these are runs. The third INT occurs after 3 plays for about a 1:00 minute-1 of these was a run.

            Looking at this, and based on what you remember, do you think the Bucs passed too much? I’m a bit ambivalent. Of course, if they could have run more and run effectively, I definitely would have preferred that. Brady would have less chance of throwing a pick. On the other hand, this is the way they play. The first throw was just a bad decision, throw. The other two that went to Evans were bad throws (and one high one that maybe Evans should have caught). Also, on the possession where the 2nd INT occurs, Evans doesn’t catch a bomb I think he should have.

            If this were a younger Tom Brady—i.e., you could trust him to protect the football–would it be a bad approach? Again, I prefer more and better running, but I don’t know if I would say this is bad.

            I do think it’s a case for an offense that is built on the run game–where the run game sets up the pass, not the other way around. I think the latter applies to Arians’s offense.
            The threat of the vertical passing game opens up the running game. But in the second half with a lead, if the defense plays more single high, man-to-man, you’re going to have to be willing to throw deep–to force them to adjust in a way to help your run game. At least, that’s my sense of their offense. And yeah, that’s something that I think is a drawback.

            But if you can’t trust Brady to avoid those type of INTs, that’s a bad sign.

            I was just pointing out, that I thought sans a few plays from Brady, the Buc’s offense look inept.

            I went back to look at the first half possessions. They weren’t that bad to me. The worst possession was a 6 play drive that ended in a punt. The other punt was an 8 play drive. The other three possessions ended in TDs. (Granted the third one occurred because of awful defense by the Packers.)

          3. The Bucs possessions were not bad at all, because they converted so many third and long. So yes most people would have thought the Bucs were good on offense in the first half especially if you were looking at the stats. But when you dig down, and see how unproductive they were on first and second down, the drop passes (Even Aikman pointed out that Godwin has some mental issues with the drops at this point.) and some errant throws, they were not good. My point was that without some great throws from Brady and an unbelievable Fournette run, their offense struggled.
            Maybe we have a different sense of what is good, but what teams do on first and second down really does affect my opinion on how the offense is playing. The only team that I’ve seen that was consistently great on third and long, was Wentz’s best year. He converted so many third and long and how sustainable that was, was unbelievable.

            As far as Brady’s INTs, I’ve heard that Arians teams have consistently been one of the worse teams giving up INTs (even prior to Winston). Based on how Arians likes to play that’s not really surprising. I wouldn’t doubt that he’s probably the worse at giving up hits to his QB as well.

          4. Maybe we have a different sense of what is good, but what teams do on first and second down really does affect my opinion on how the offense is playing.

            I think there’s validity to this, but the use of the word “struggled” seems to go too far to me. Maybe I would have felt this way if it seemed like they have to make incredible plays on 3rd down–like Wentz scrambling and converting on a 3rd and long.

            As far as Brady’s INTs, I’ve heard that Arians teams have consistently been one of the worse teams giving up INTs (even prior to Winston).

            I don’t think the best Cardinal teams were like this. But put that aside: Did you think the INTs were bad because of the play calling/offense?

    3. Those force punts up five was huge, but that Buc defense had a 18 point cushion and let the Packers back in the game in a blink of an eye. Give up field goals and/or longer drives on both TDs, and the game would have been much more secure.

      So you feel like the first point overrides the second, and utlimately tips the scales against the defense? I think the Bucs defense gave up the points quickly to the Packers, but I give some credit to Rodgers and their defense. Ultimately, I think those forced punts after the turnovers were more critical.

      . I’m guessing at that point Green Bay’s defense was trying to stop a short out pass and get out of bounds play,…

      But you agree this was a bad move right? You don’t try to take this away leaving the deep pass vulnerable–especially against Arians, the no-risk-it-no-biscuit coach. And by the way, what that phrase generally translates to is throwing deep in situations when you don’t expect it (e.g., throwing from your end zone, 3rd and short, etc.) The Bucs even did this at least twice in the previous game. How often have you seen a defense prevent this type of short pass, which ultimately prevents a field goal? I think it almost never happens. Usually, the defense allows this and just hopes the team misses the field goal.

      One last thing. With regard to the run game, I just want to be clear: it’s not that I thought the Bucs (or the Chiefs, for that matter) ran the ball great or that their offenses were super balanced. It’s more of a relative issue–that is, the run game was more of a factor than their opponents; they were more balanced relative to their opponents’ offenses. Did you have the same impression? Or do you think there really wasn’t a significant difference?

      1. I think hindsight is 20-20, but if the Bucs was given an easy 10 yard pass to the sidelines and they kicked a 46 yard field goal and went up 14 at the half, the Packer’s coaches would have gotten roasted for that. The Packers had to try and take away the most obvious play. It took a perfect pass and a perfect call to get that TD. It wouldn’t have took much for Tampa to get a field goal.

      2. I don’t agree that this was a close call. What happened before this play? Was there way too little time to get a FG? Maybe I’m forgetting key details, but I don’t think I would have criticized the Packer coaches if they Bucs hit the FG. Giving up the type of TD they did was way, way worse. And it wasn’t a super difficult throw. Miller burned the guy pretty badly. If it was difficult throw, it was difficult because he was too open. In this type of game, the TD gave too big of a cushion to the Bucs.

        1. They moved the clock to 8 seconds and Tampa had no timeouts left. Unlike what you stated, I think most teams would force Tampa to catch a pass in the middle of the field and let the clock run out. They wouldn’t let the offense complete a pass, get out of bounds, and attempt a field goal. If the TD was Green Bay’s main concern, they should have played Hail Mary defense and just stuck 5-6 players in the end zone. I cannot recall ever seeing a defense doing that in this situation. Most teams would play defense to defend the sideline to prevent a field goal attempt, is my guess.

        2. OK, the circumstances don’t really seem to make a difference. Force the Bucs to throw in the middle of the field is preferable, but whatever you do, don’t let them have the deep shot. If the Packers forcing the Bucs to the middle meant leaving themselves vulnerable to a bomb–with no safety help–then I’d let them have the sideline pass.

  4. Bills-Chiefs

    Notes while watching the game.

    Right of the bat: the crowd seems pretty loud.
    Bills aggressive–going hurry-up and on 4th down.
    Allen almost throws a pick. That better be a wake up call for him.

    Muffed punt by Chiefs–huge, obviously.

    Edit

    The Bills defense had a rough day–especially in terms of containing explosive plays. If I’m Bowles watching this game, I’m tempted to just force the Chiefs to beat by running. If they run 200+ yard and win, so be it. For sure, I’m not letting Hill beat me.

    Bills down 21-9. They can’t get too one-dimensional.

    End of 1st half

    Chiefs look like the better team. Their offense is more balanced. Their defense is doing a good job, although I think that’s partly because the Bills run game isn’t much of a factor.

    1. That’s weird because I didn’t think the Chiefs could run at all in this game or maybe they just didn’t need to.

    2. There would be certain sequences where I thought they ran enough and did enough damage to draw the attention of the defense. In the red zone, their run game seemed to be a factor. And that end around was a big play.

  5. Chiefs Bills

    The Bills defensive plan of keeping everything in front of their defense and playing their safeties back, seems smart on paper. The wanted to take away the big plays of KC. The problem is in the first half, Kelce nickle-and-dimed the defense to death (practically), and later the Chiefs was getting the ball to Hill underneath and the Bills couldn’t get him to the ground. Yes it would seem hard to double Hill on every play, but the Bills should have allowed the other receivers the chance to beat them.

    Spags blitzed Allen a lot and Allen couldn’t handle the pressure. I didn’t think Allen played well against the Ravens, but I thought it could have been the wind and the Raven’s D, but this game may have placed a different light on Allen. Allen may be good, but he’s not ready for the next step of being in the class of Mahomes and Rodgers.

  6. Interesting conversation. Sorta.

    I thought the NFC game was pretty good until the last five minutes or so.

    Yeah, Godwin seems to be having mental issues. Except for that one third-down grab Don was talking about, he was body-catching everything. He missed a lot of the season with injuries, so I’m hoping it’s just temporary, and in a normal season he’ll be back to form because I really like him.

    Man, I enjoy watching Tampa Bay’s left tackle Donovan Smith play. I even like watching him in the huddle as he towers over everyone. He’s 6-6, 238, but he looks bigger to me.

    The Buccaneers, early in the game, ran on 3rd and 9, I think. Ballsy and confident.

    The AFC game was super uninteresting to me. By the second half I had it on but I was doing chores.

    1. Godwin’s drops were an issue in other games as well. And these are pretty easy catches. Same with Fournette (on the swing passes). If you’re rooting for the Bucs, it’s super frustrating. With Godwin, I wonder if it’s an injury thing or the drops have really gotten into his head.

      I think you could use both to make a case that the Bucs offense struggled, but using that word seems to go too far for me. The thing about the Arians is that he relies so much on deep passes. The offense will miss on several of these, and it’s possible that will result in long yardage situations. But if you hit on enough of them, than that can make the offense works, assuming the throws are good decisions (i.e., wide open or good one-on-one match up).

      On another note, I think the Packers should fire Mike Pettine–not just for the end of the first half, but for the overall defense in the last two years. I feel like they’re playing below the talent they have. I guy they should consider is Jim Schwartz. (He would have been a good guy for the Cowboys to consider, too. I also think I would prefer him over Gus Bradley for the Raiders.)

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