One Step Forward Two Steps To Go – The NFL Divisional Playoff Predictions
Six teams took a big step forward in the NFL 2020 playoffs last weekend while two other teams waiting in the wings to see who they would be playing. Taking that one big step forward were the Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the New Orleans Saints. Now all the remaining teams have to steps to go to becoming Super Bowl champions.
Getting a one week rest with the top seed in each conference were the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs. The Ravens were expecting a battle with the Tennessee Titans and they got one but they were clearly the better team. The Browns pulled off the biggest upset at least on paper. On the field, the Steelers continued their late-season slump losing five of their final six and exiting the playoffs whipped. Seattle lost at home paving the way for the Rams to advance. Then there was Drew Brees perhaps giving it his final hurrah with a possible retirement looming ahead
Now we are down to what is an equivalent of the NCAA’s “March Madness” in other words the ELITE EIGHT. Eight teams left in each conference with the winners advancing to the AFC and NFC championship games for the right to play in Super Bowl LV.
In the wild card round, I got four out of six games predicted correctly only missing on Cleveland’s upset and picking Seattle at home. With just four games to forecast this should be quick but perhaps not easy.
Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay: The Packers hold the top seed and while they won’t be playing in front of a packed house at Lambeau Field, it doesn’t matter because they are the better team. The Rams may be without defensive stud Aaron Donald but that too would only be a partial setback. Aaron Rodgers is playing like he’s young again and he should be able to carve up the Rams’ defense. Prediction: Packers 31, Rams 17.
Cleveland at Kansas City: Pittsburgh’s Chase Claypool says the Browns are going to get “clapped” when they face the Chiefs on Sunday. I’ve never heard of anyone being clapped but regardless, Claypool followed in teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster's footsteps and opened his trap when he should not be. With that said, I do agree with Claypool that this game will not be close. Cleveland did a great job of capitalizing on Pittsburgh's mistakes and then the inability of the Steelers’ defense unable to make some key stops, as well as the Browns making no mistakes of their own, and playing consistently got them to where they are now. This is where it ends. Prediction: Chiefs 45, Browns 24.
Baltimore at Buffalo: ABSOLUTELY the best game of the weekend. The Ravens are the scariest team left not just in my opinion but others as well. I believe this game will ride on the arm of Josh Allen as to whether or not the Bills can prevail. But my gut says the Ravens are on a mission and Lamar Jackson playing with a chip on his shoulder. That makes them very dangerous. Prediction: Ravens 27, Bills 24.
Tampa at New Orleans: The divisional round ends on Sunday with what might be Drew Brees's last hurrah and who knows, maybe Tom Brady does not return to the field either for the 2021 season. The Bucs lost twice to the Saints this season 34-23 in the season opener and on November 8, New Orleans took Tampa to task finishing them in style 38-3. The Bucs had some trouble with Washington last weekend and they are in for a tougher task this time around. Prediction: Saints 34, Bucs 28.