Playoff Results, Matchups and Predictions By John Brecko

 

Image credit via Baltimore Ravens.com

The Wild Card Round of the playoffs in the 2020 NFL season has come to an end with three exciting games played on both days this weekend.

Kicking this weekend off was the 1:00 p.m. game between the number 7 seed in the AFC that qualified for the playoff just last week by winning their season finale in the Indianapolis Colts and the number 2 seed Buffalo Bills.

The Buffalo Bills were the favorites in this matchup and they showed everyone watching why, winning 27-24 after stopping the Colts from rallying late in the game.

The Bills young franchise quarterback in Josh Allen also played well in this game, completing more than 74% of his passes and throwing for 324 yards and two touchdowns. Allen also made sure not to turn the ball over in this game in the same way he has kept from doing that all season.

Allen threw for 37 touchdown passes and just 10 interceptions in the regular season and would begin the playoffs this year by outperforming 39-year-old, Phillip Rivers, who also threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, but only completed 58 percent of his passes in this game.

It is still uncertain if Phillip Rivers will return next season for one more try at a potential Super Bowl win that has eluded him during his career.

As for Josh Allen, he has now won the first playoff game of his entire career in his second playoff game. The Bills lost their playoff game to the Houston Texans last year after Deshaun Watson led the Texans on their own late game rally that took that January 4, 2020 game into overtime. The Texans would prevail that day by a score of 22-19.

On January 9, 2021, Josh Allen and the Bills would not be denied. The Bills have officially won their first playoff game in 25 years.

The last time the Bills won a playoff game was the Wild Card Round of the 1995 season. On December 30, 1995, the Buffalo Bills would defeat the Miami Dolphins by a score of 37-22 to mark their last playoff win in 25 years. They lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs that year to the Pittsburgh Steelers 40-21.

They would make the playoffs five times afterwards, but would lose in all of those games, beginning with a 30-27 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1996 and ending with the aforementioned loss to the Texans just over a year ago.

It is hard to believe since the Buffalo Bills went on a run where they went to four consecutive Super Bowls from the 1990 season all the way to the 1993 season, even if they did lost all four of those games with a loss to the New York Giants at Super Bowl 25, the Washington Redskins (now Washington Football Team) 26 and the Dallas Cowboys twice at 27 and 28.

Only Super Bowl 25 was a close game. The Bills were outscored by 66 points against their opponents in all four Super Bowls combined (the worst was Super Bowl 27, where they lost 52-17).

The Bills will surely have every intention to go to the Super Bowl this year with every intent to change their fortunes in football’s biggest game of the year, especially with their fortunes in the playoffs now beginning to change.

The 4:00 game had the most surprising result considering many thought that the backup to Jared Goff in the former AAF Arizona Hotshot quarterback, John Wolford would get the start, which he did. However, he would go down after suffering a stinger during this game on a play where collided with and was tackled by Seattle Seahawks safety, Jamal Adams after the backup quarterback was flushed out of the pocket and scrambled to his right in response.

Jared Goff would only throw for 155 yards and a touchdown pass, which is actually impressive since he just got surgery on a broken right thumb (the thumb on his throwing arm). He would also get some help from the Rams defense, who stopped the Seahawks on many third downs in this game. Cam Akers would also score a touchdown of his own and average 4.7 yards a carry in today’s game.

The story is that as a collective until, the Rams pulled out a 30-20 upset over the Seahawks after missing the playoffs last year a losing to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 53 the year before.

In the Saturday night game, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would take on the 7-9 Washington Football Team, who only got into the playoffs by winning the division in the NFC least.

I stated in a previous article that this would be the game in the Wild Card Round that football fans can skip if they had to choose one game to do so, but Washington did not make the game as easy as most fans were probably expecting.

Washington may have a potential leader after Taylor Heinecke’s performance in the game.

Heinecke was a typical journeymen before this game as an undrafted free agent in the 2015 NFL Draft and former member of the Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings and Houston Texans. He was even a former practice squad quarterback for the New England Patriots when Tom Brady was still there.

The commentators even told a story about how Heinecke sat and watched film with Tom Brady and was able to pick his brain at 5:15 in the morning before practice one day during the brief period of time he was in New England.

Considering he was a backup for the XFL’s St. Louis Battlehawks less than a year ago before covid caused the league to suspend operations, maybe he should win Comeback Player of the Year. That obviously will not happen because he did not do much in his NFL career before this).

Heinecke threw for over 300 yards, threw one touchdown and rushed for another. He did throw an interception, but it took Tampa making a play and tipping one of his passes to make that happen. He even showed his toughness by getting injured and running back to the locker room only to come back out for the next series.

Multiple teammates praised him for his performance and Head Coach, Ron Rivera told the media what he did was “gutsy’ in this game. Washington may have lost this game, but I would not be surprised if we see more of Heinecke in the nation’s capital.

Sunday’s games will not be in order and the reason why is because the 4:00 game is the game you could have actually skipped.

The Chicago Bears were down 21-3 in the fourth quarter of their game and never got into the end zone until time expired on the final play of the game. The New Orleans Saints prevailed by a score of 21-9.

This could have been expected by some considering Mitchell Trubisky was playing against one of the best defenses in the league. Trubisky threw completed 19 of his 29 passes and threw that touchdown pass at the end, but he never made a play that mattered in this playoff game. The Bears were 1 and 10 on third down. All ten of those third down plays that were called were dropbacks.

On the other hand, Lamar Jackson proved he could win in the playoffs with a 20-13 win over the Tennessee Titans. The defense of the Baltimore Ravens does deserve credit for holding Derrick Henry to less than 50 yards in this game when that man had rushed for over 300 yards on them in their two previous meetings.

Baker Mayfield also won in his playoff debut, helping the Cleveland Browns put up 48 points with three touchdown passes against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were down 28-0 by the end of the first quarter and 35-7 by the end of the first half. Pittsburgh dug themselves into a hole in this game that they could not dig themselves out of.

It is possible to make an argument that this Sunday night game could have been skipped as well. The problem with that argument is that the Browns were underdogs and absolutely no one expected them to beat the Steelers in the convincing fashion that they did.

JuJu Smith Schuster may be rethinking his statement about how the Browns are “the Browns” along with Colin Cowherd’s statement that men that wear their hats backwards cannot win playoff games, which Baker Mayfield made sure to do in his post-game press conference.

 

Just like that…in the span of two days…there were eight teams remaining. Two of them have been waiting to see who their opponents would be in the Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers. The other six are the winners mentioned in the previous paragraphs. The Chiefs take on the Browns and the Packers will take on the Rams, while the Saints will face the Bucs and the Ravens will take on the Bills.

 

The two teams that will go on to the AFC Championship Round are the Chiefs and the Bills. No one with sense bets on the team that has Missouri’s favorite son and former MVP, Super Bowl MVP and Super Bowl champion in Patrick Mahomes on the field.

Baker Mayfield will make this game exciting and we may come down to the final whistle and a last minute deciding play when these two teams face off. However, Kansas City will win, even if they have to find a way late in the game, especially since they have had to do that in many of their games this season.

Lamar Jackson has proven he can win in the playoffs, but that is all he will prove this year when his team plays in Buffalo. Jackson will have his season where he takes the Ravens to the Super Bowl, but not on this occasion. In this game, the combination of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs will be too much for Lamar Jackson’s legs to overcome

Tom Brady and the Bucs may have lost to the Saints twice this year, but the third time will be the charm for the 43 year old and “no risk it, no biscuit” quarterback and coach combination and the GOAT will play in his 13th conference championship game when the Bucs defeat the Saints this coming Sunday.

Aaron Rodgres has had the best season of his career, which is saying a lot when an off year consists of 26 touchdown passes and four interceptions and NFC Championship game appearance in the season prior.

The Rams have proven that they are a resilient team and Jared Goff proved his resilience by playing in the game against the Seahawks with an injured thumb on his throwing arm. However, resilience will not be enough against Aaron Rodgers. The Rams will make it a fight the entire game and will let the Packers know they had been in a fight before falling, but they will fall to the Packers.

Therefore, in the NFC Championship game, the Green Bay Packers will take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

 

The NFL playoffs started off hot with exciting games and stories that we never expected to hear about coming into this week. The action and the drama will only heat up as the NFL 2020 postseason progresses.

 

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