The New Year has arrived and so have the 2020-21 NFL playoffs, week 17 is over and the teams are set. The journey to the Lombardi Trophy kicks off at 1 PM In Buffalo, New York where the Bills (13-3) will host the Colts (11-5). Both the Bills and the Colts will be coming off of convincing wins to end the season over the Dolphins and the Jaguars. Both teams also have top 10 ranked defenses so it will certainly be a good matchup, however the real difference maker in this game will be the deadly duo of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs. Diggs racked up over 1,500 yards receiving this year under Josh Allen making him the receiving leader of the league. I do not see the Colts stopping this dynamic offense. The Next matchup is the Los Angeles Rams against the Seattle Seahawks. These two divisional rivals started the season hot but both offenses began to lose their steam toward the end of the season resulting in two embarrassing losses to the Giants and Jets respectively. The Seahawks ended their season with 12 wins and 4 loses, the Rams ended with 10 wins and 6 loses. This will be another close one but the Rams offense has been all but useless recently. I just do not see them putting enough points on the board to win this game, I like Seattle here.
Saturday’s last game will be played at FedEx field where the 7-9 division leading Washington Football team host Tom Brady and the Buccaneers who ended their season with 11 wins and 5 losses. Similar to the Rams, the Washington Football team has a top ranked defensive team with Chase Young and Montez Sweat leading the charge, however their secondary has been less than convincing. Tom Brady and his Bucs offense has been rolling putting up 47 points in their last game. Washington’s weak secondary will be tested with Brady’s deep ball to Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski. Washington’s weak offense likely will not be able to keep up with the Buccaneers ability to spread the ball, resulting in a Tampa Bay win.
To begin Sunday’s triple header, the Baltimore Ravens take on King Henry and the Tennessee Titans. This same game was played last year in the first round of playoffs, Derrick Henry ran for 200 yards and led his team to a victory. This matchup may be different however, ever since Ravens QB Lamar Jackson returned from COVID-19 in week 9 he has been on a tear and has not lost a game. Lamar is set to have a day against this week Titan’s pass rush with starting DE Jadeveon Clowney out. The Ravens will win this game if they can do what almost nobody has been able to, contain King Henry. Next the Chicago Bears march into New Orleans to take on the Saints, the biggest statistical mismatch of the first round of the playoffs. The Saints finished at 12-4 on the season and the Bears finished at an even 8 wins and 8 losses. Before its recent success, the Bears offense has been subpar at best, their QB, Mitchell Tribisky has been really struggling these past two seasons. Chicago RB David Montgomery has been on fire recently but he alone will not be enough to out score the saints. Saints RB Alvin Kamara has been running all over the league this season finishing with 16 touchdowns in just 15 games. Him along with their deep threat will likely be enough to send the Bears back to Chicago with a loss.
The final game of the weekend is between two AFC North rivals, the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns finished with 11 wins on the season and the Steelers finished with 12. Pittsburgh started with 11 wins straight but struggled to end the season due to some big losses such as James Conner Briefly and Bud Dupree, starting defensive end. Last week’s matchup between these two teams ended in a close win for the Browns, however the Steelers were without starting QB, Ben Roethlisberger. Except for the slip against the Jets, the Browns have been playing great football recently and winning games, if they can bring that momentum to this game, they should beat the Steelers.