The NFL playoff picture

I can’t wait for this to be completely wrong. ethan butterfield

Wrapping up Super Wildcard Weekend

The emergence of the NFL playoffs during the winter semester break brings a new excitement to the game of football that the regular season just can’t. As of now, the Super Wildcard Weekend has reached its end and the Divisional Round of these playoffs are set. All eyes in the Divisional Round will certainly be looking towards the Super Bowl, which this year will be hosted in Tampa Bay, Florida in what I can only assume is the hand of fate leading Tom Brady back to the big one. Before looking at the Divisional Round though, let’s look at this Super Wildcard Weekend’s results and see what the future may hold for the winning teams.

So yes, Super Wildcard Weekend this year had its fair share of upsets and blowouts. One that immediately comes to this editor’s mind is the sixth-ranked Los Angeles Rams’ win against the third ranked Seattle Seahawks. This game (on top of showing quarterback (QB) Jared Goff’s toughness regarding his thumb injury) put the Rams defense on full display as they held the Seahawks throughout the entire game. A solid feat to be sure given QB Russell Wilson’s versatility as a passer and the dynamic offense line that he has to work with. The Rams, given their win, will be heading to take on the Green Bay Packers and the red-hot veteran Aaron Rodgers. For those looking forward to the game, expect the classic match-up of unstoppable force and immovable object.

The next team to look into is that of the Baltimore Ravens, who earned a big wildcard win against the Tennessee Titans. One reason it’s big is due to the alleviating of criticism from QB Lamar Jackson during playoff time. It also showed the skill of the Ravens’ run defence as they were able to hold off two-time (2019, 2020) NFL leading rusher Derrick Henry. With their win, Baltimore heads towards the Buffalo Bills, where an all-out offensive-based game awaits. If Baltimore wants to keep their winning ways going, they’ll need to work the clock and keep QB Josh Allen off the field (fairly basic stuff all in all).

Unsurprisingly, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (TB to TB as my friends and I once referred to them as) take care of business against the Washington Football Team and move on in the playoffs. On top of the win, Tom Brady (throwing a couple of touchdowns (TDs) in the game) is now officially the oldest player to throw a TD in the NFL postseason. However, aside from the usual Brady performance, an unusually stunning performance from one Taylor Heinicke could not be denied. Stepping in for veteran Alex Smith, Taylor Heinicke almost pulled an upset against the Buccaneers as he fought tooth and nail. As far as other performances, rookie defensive end Chase Young (who’s been in the “solid rookie” talks along with Justin Herbert and others) wasn’t able to bring the necessary impact against the Buccaneers offense. Moving forward though, ‘TB and TB’ will be taking on the New Orlean Saints in the divisional round. Given that QB Drew Brees and the Saints blew out Brady and the Buccaneers twice during the regular season, this should be one for the record books.

Now, as amazing as it would be to try and figure out a clever segue into the next game I’m about to discuss, I’m just going to be direct. The Cleveland Browns won. Let me write that again, the Cleveland Browns have won in the playoffs. This is their first road playoff win since 1969. Again, Let me write, this is their first road playoff win since 1969. That is absolutely bonkers. Do you know what the number one song at the end of 1969 was? “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies. Useless music knowledge aside, despite this massive milestone win, Cleveland now moves on to play against the defending Super Bowl champions in Kansas City. Although not impossible, it’s certainly an uphill battle for this scrappy team. Assuming runningback’s (RB) Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb are able to keep being productive with the football (as well as wide-reciever (WR) Jarvis Landry), it’s fair to believe that Cleveland has a real shot. Next is the New Orlean Saints and their win against the Chicago Bears. I don’t think anybody really expected Chicago to come out on top in this one (as amazing as that would’ve been). Although it was a good defensive match-up, Drew Brees and the Saints went in, got the job done, and left. As I mentioned earlier on, the Saints will take on Tampa Bay in what will sure to be a thrilling conclusion to the ‘Brees versus Brady’ saga of the regular season.

Moving on to the final Super Wildcard Weekend game, we look at the Buffalo Bills win over the Indianapolis Colts. Now, going into this game I didn’t think it was going to be as close as it was, but sure enough it was that close. The Colts were literally one big play away from moving on to the next stage of the NFL playoffs, but they just couldn’t bring it. This brings a lot to the table in terms of analysis. It shows that while, yes, the Bills can win in big pressure situations, it also shows just how different the playoffs are for some teams. The Bills will need to find themselves more grounded in reality if they hope to beat the Baltimore Ravens.

Well, there you have it. Oh, and if you (the reader) are wondering why my Super Bowl Challenge bracket is the main picture for the article, it’s because nothing is more humbling than being completely wrong in your sporting predictions. That being said, go Packers (please?). 

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