The 2020 NFL regular season that many thought would not be completed due to COVID came to a close last week. The league managed to complete a full schedule of 256 games during the pandemic. Now it’s time for the playoffs.
It seems like everyone is taking the Kansas City Chiefs to defend its Super Bowl Title. The Chiefs finished 14-2 this season but I feel they will face a few challenges in the next few weeks.
The biggest test Kansas City will likely face will come from the Buffalo Bills. The Bills won the AFC East for the first time since 1995. Speaking of first times, this is the first time in ages that the New England Patriots are not in the playoffs. Buffalo ended the Pats run in the AFC East.
My possible surprise team coming out of the NFC has to be Tampa Bay. The Bucs finished 11-5 and earned a wildcard berth. The signing of Tom Brady has to be considered a success for Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers proved they beat anyone as they dominated NFC No. 1 seed Green Bay Packers in the regular season and nearly came back to knock off the AFC No. 1 seed Chiefs, too.
My surprise team out of the AFC are the Baltimore Ravens. 2019 MVP, quarterback, Lamar Jackson, is beginning to play like an MVP again after a slow start and the Ravens defense has allowed just 10 points per game the last three weeks. This team was impacted a great deal by COVID throughout the season but are now clicking at the right time.
High seeds that could be upset include the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks.
The Steelers were once a perfect 11-0. They lost four of five down the stretch and are having problems putting points on the board. The Seahawks finished 12-4 but have not had a convincing win in weeks.
Actually, Buffalo is a candidate to be upset as it has a much tougher opening-round matchup. The Bills face an Indianapolis team that boasts a top-five defense, a dominant running game, and veteran quarterback, ingredients that normally lead to playoff wins.
The reason I think Seattle could get knocked out early is that they are facing the Los Angeles Rams who have the best defense in the playoffs.
One storyline that I would like to see is within the NFC. If things go right this weekend during the wildcard round, the four remaining teams for the next round will feature four future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay), Drew Brees (New Orleans), Russell Wilson (Seattle) and Tom Brady (Tampa Bay). That would be a truly historical two-game slate.
Speaking of quarterbacks, there are three more potential Hall of Famers in the AFC in Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City), Lamar Jackson (Baltimore) and Josh Allen (Buffalo).
Great quarterback play will lead to high scoring games. Surprisingly, the Chiefs are only the sixth-highest scoring offense in the NFL playoffs. It turns out that the Packers led everyone with 31.8 points per game. They’ve got Rodgers, Davante Adams, Aaron Jones, an explosive passing game and a strong running game.
In all, five teams within the playoffs averaged 30 or more points during the regular season. This tells me that there will be little defense between now and Super Bowl 55.