Well we made it. We finally made it. The NFL successfully played all 256 games in the 17 week schedule. Of course, any other year this would have been no feat at all, but given the times we are in, this is a tremendous feat for all of sports. Obviously, we still have until the beginning of February before we can declare this season a success. Teams could get the COVID bug and be forced to play a playoff game without some key players due to exposure and contact tracing and all that jazz and then they’re sent home. All it takes is one guy putting himself before his team, like a Dwayne Haskins situation, and everything is screwed up. I’ll give these teams the benefit of the doubt and knock on wood that they will make it through the end of the season without being stricken with COVID.
Now, onto the playoffs. At the beginning of the season, I made the following predictions regarding the division winners and wild card seeds:
AFC West – Kansas City Chiefs (1)
AFC North – Baltimore Ravens (2)
AFC East – Buffalo Bills (3)
AFC South – Tennessee Titans (4)
WC 1 – Indianapolis Colts (5)
WC 2 – Cleveland Browns (6)
WC 3 – New England Patriots (7)
NFC South – New Orleans Saints (1)
NFC West – San Francisco 49ers (2)
NFC North – Minnesota Vikings (3)
NFC East – Dallas Cowboys (4)
WC 1 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5)
WC 2 – Seattle Seahawks (6)
WC 3 – Green Bay Packers (7)
Super Bowl: New Orleans Saints v. Baltimore Ravens – Saints winning it all
Obviously, I listened to the right people and went with my gut with some of these picks. However, I did not factor in COVID (49ers) nor did I even think about injuries (Cowboys and Vikings) and how they would affect the teams long term. Not my fault. But I did really jump on the Patriots and Cam Newton bandwagon. I’ll take that L and move on. Lastly, the Ravens were not good most of the season. They just happened to get hot at the right times. I guess that’s what championship teams do? Not sure, but that’s what I hear.
Onto the fun stuff. Here are the current matchups heading into wild card weekend (picks are in bold):
NFC Wild Card:
Bye – (1) Green Bay Packers
(7) Chicago Bears v. (2) New Orleans Saints – Saints ( -9.5)
(6) Los Angeles Rams v. (3) Seattle Seahawks – Seahawks (-3)
(5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers v. (4) Washington Football Teams – Buccaneers (-10.5)
NFC Division Round:
(5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers v. (1) Green Bay Packers – Packers (-3)
(3) Seattle Seahawks v. (2) New Orleans Saints – Saints (-7)
(2) New Orleans Saints v. (1) Green Bay Packers – Packers (-7)
First, I could see the Rams beating the Seahawks. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised. Their defense is atrocious and their offense has not been the same top 5 offense we saw at the beginning of the season. However, Russell Wilson is still their QB and the Rams QB, Jared Goff, is not 100%. Their defense could get the job done but if that offense is on their #2 QB with other names questionable to play, that would be too big of a task. Second, the Bucs going to Lambeau and winning, during winter, against a Packers team that has hit its stride at the right time, I just don’t see it happening. This team has the tools to get it done but will it matchup well in the cold? To me, the Saints are in the same situation as the Bucs. They have the tools but I don’t see it going well at Lambeau. Sorry, TB won’t be playing in the Super Bowl in their home city.
AFC Wild Card:
Bye: (1) Kansas City Chiefs
(7) Indianapolis Colts v. (2) Buffalo Bills – Bills (-7)
(6) Cleveland Browns v. (3) Pittsburgh Steelers – Browns (+4.5)
(5) Baltimore Ravens v. (4) Tennessee Titans – Ravens (-3.5)
AFC Division Round:
(6) Cleveland Browns v. (1) Kansas City Chiefs – Chiefs (-10)
(5) Baltimore Ravens v. (2) Buffalo Bills – Bills (-4.5)
(2) Buffalo Bills v. (1) Kansas City Chiefs – Chiefs (-7.5)
Like I said, the Ravens are hot right now. I just don’t see Tennessee having the defense to stop that offense. The Ravens defense might even be a good matchup for RB Derrick Henry who just joined the 2K club. I just don’t see them beating the Bills right now. If they just absolutely demolish the Titans, then maybe. But for now, I’m playing it safe and taking the Bills. Some will say the Browns over the Steelers pick is nuts. Just last week the Browns squeaked past the Steelers in a Big Ben less offense. But to me that’s not the test. The Browns proved they could get in the end zone and put up points against this Steelers D. I like the Browns because I’m biased and think the Steelers are the definition of overrated. The Chiefs win the AFC. When they are fully loaded and on their A-game. I don’t see anyone in this group who comes close to beating them. That’s not saying they aren’t beatable by any means. If the Bills catch them in a funk, where Mahomes is missing some throws and their defense (their weak link) isn’t able to stop Josh Allen and Co, the Bills could be headed to the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl LV (55):
(1) Green Bay Packers v. (1) Kansas City Chiefs – Packers (-7)
Super Bowl Takeaway:
I’ll make this short. I am biased. I don’t care for the Chiefs because of their fake fans (I’ve acknowledged the real ones). Every championship team has them but these ones are extra annoying because I’ve been surrounded by them my whole life. And I love the Packers. I’m not declaring myself a fan but my family loves the Packers and I’ve watched them for as long as I can remember. The Chiefs are one of the most exciting teams I have ever seen. Their offense is fascinating to watch and when they’re behind on the scoreboard, you know that they’re not really behind. But like I’ve said, they have flaws that have been exposed by teams with less than the Packers have. Mahomes has had moments where he hasn’t looked like the MVP we are used to seeing. Their running attack is not the same as last year. I feel the Packers defense are a better match for the Chiefs offense than the Chiefs defense matching up with the Packers offense.
Whatever happens, I am just so excited to start this year off with some playoff football! If only we had the loud and obnoxious fans. Life would be so much better. I’ll be updating my picks via Twitter (@TopShelfGW) before each game as the spreads and matchups change!