NFL 2020: Divisional Round

Divisional Round!!! Not a lot of Covid news. The Seahawks were the only team to go without a single positive Covid test. The Brownies get a couple of important defensive players, and likely their head coach, back off the Covid list. Pretty quiet, which is good.

Most of the news is about non-playoff teams getting their staffs in order. The Bears bring back (heehee) Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy. Broncos get a new GM (George Paton) to replace the completely not-fired John Elway. And a bunch of assistant coaches on winning teams are getting interviewed. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. I expect Robert Saleh and Eric Bienemy to be hired as head coaches, but who knows.

And 85 years of football will be on display when Brady and Brees face off this weekend. Speaking of the actual games, here you go:

Saturday, Jan. 16

3:35 p.m.

Los Angeles Rams vs. Green Bay Packers (-6.5, 45.5)

7:15 p.m.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Buffalo Bills (-2, 50)

Sunday, Jan. 17

2:05 p.m.

Cleveland Browns vs. Kansas City Chiefs (-10, 56)

5:40 p.m.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints (-3, 52)

All the games should be great watching. The Browns/Chiefs game may be a blowout, but I expect the others to be one score games going into the last drive of the game. I am a bit surprised that the Packers are such big favorites. With Aaron Donald healthy and without All Pro David Bakhtiari, the Packers’ offensive line will be under a lot of pressure all day. But they did pretty well against Mack, Hicks, and Quinn last week, so there is hope. A lot will come down to who will be playing QB for the Rams. Hopefully the Packers D will be able to take advantage of some questionable play there.

Ravens/Bills should be a fascinating game. Good defense against a good offense. I still question Josh Allen’s abilities in tense situations, but he’s had a helluva year. And but for one great run last week, the Ravens offense can be stymied at times. It should be a good watch.

While most of us have a soft spot for poor Browns fans, I really don’t see how they can beat the Chiefs at Arrowhead. Sure there’s always turnovers, run game, special teams scoring. But head to head, the Chiefs are a much better team. I don’t expect much of a game from this one, but a strong running game/ball control offense can slow the Chiefs down.

And finally the Bucs/Saints. Another interesting game, that will come down to which defense will play better. Brees hasn’t been Brees, and the short passing game might not be enough to counter the weapons on the Bucs offense. But the Saints defense is no joke. I think I might take the under on this game. Now watch, it will be a complete shootout.

The playoffs are here. The football watching is better. The teams are better. There’s a lot to like in the games this weekend; a little something for everyone. Enjoy them. And Go Pack Go

538 has the current odds of the top four teams winning the SB as

Chiefs - 22%
Saints - 21%
Packers - 20%
Bills - 19%

I don’t think I’ve ever seen four teams bunched so close in the odds.

Hoping for a Bills-Browns AFC title game. It would also be fun to see if the Bucs can advance all the way to being the first team in league history to play a Super Bowl at their own home venue.

Same here. In general, I’m rooting for the underdogs, but I do have a soft spot for the Packers and no affinity for the Rams, so I’m in for the Cheeseheads.

I think between now and whenever their season ends Baker Mayfield should end every interview with “And now if you’ll excuse me I have to go take the Browns to the Superbowl”

We no longer have anything to talk about.

As a Chefs fan, I think it’s a pretty good matchup. The Browns’ offense is well-suited to play KC well. I’m not familiar enough with Cleveland’s defense to say it can withstand Mahomes & Co., but few defenses can. If Cleveland wins, the score is going to be like 48-45.

As a life-long Cleveland fan, and someone with a soft spot for cold-weather teams from gritty industrial cities like Buffalo, me too. Nevertheless, I expect that the Brownies’ Cinderella run comes to an end this weekend. Still, they managed to beat the Steelers twice, once in Pittsburgh, which completely shocked me. We’re still close enough to 1-15 and 0-16 that I was happy to have a winning season, and ecstatic to get a playoff win.

So after this weekend, I go back to rooting for my NFC team, the Packers.

KC is a better team than Cleveland. But dismissing Cleveland as a joke with no chance as a lot of people are seems foolish to me.

Oh, but KC is a well oiled machine that can put up 40 points on anyone, right? Well, they did that once this year, and Cleveland did it four times. I realize that’s an arbitrary cutoff, but it demonstrates that Cleveland has a puncher’s chance of coming out ahead in a shootout. KC will probably win, but it’s not a joke to think another outcome is possible.

Near the end of the 3rd quarter, Rams score a touchdown & make a 2-pt conversion - so Green Bay is up 25-18. That’s one of the scores that has never been the final score of an NFL game.

32-18 now.

That, too, is a unique final score.

ETA: Nope - thought it was, but that’s incorrect. This site shows them all.

And it ended that way. I got a little worried after two punts in a row (?), but the Pack pulled it off.


Impressive win by the Packers.

Sloppy start to the Bills/Ravens game. Neither offense is doing well.

Lamar Jackson was tackled for a loss on an obvious running play. Is this considered a sack?

I have no idea what the Bills are thinking on offense. They have rushed a total of 2 times for 7 yards.

Baltimore has rushed 17 times for 68 yards.

Are the Bills not even interested in getting a running game going?

AIUI, it must be a passing play to be a sack. In fact, the NFL is so particular about this that back in 2003, the league once took a sack away from the Cowboys on the stat sheet because Donovan McNabb was later considered by the statisticians to have been running a QB draw instead of trying to throw a pass.

Thanks. The announcers weren’t calling a sack so that makes sense. This made me think of another scenario. When the QB laterals to another player who then looks like he’s going to pass, if he gets tackled for a loss then it’s a sack?

Well, that was quite a turnaround. What looked like a tie game instead turns into a 2-TD lead for the Bills.