A sad farewell (probably), Mafia money and history repeats itself in the NFL Divisional Round Recap.
2020 NFL Divisional Round Recap
January 18, 2021, 4:45 AM
I take no joy in saying this because he won me my first fantasy football championship … but Drew Brees looks done. Like, Peyton Manning in 2015 done. If the reports are true, Brees’ final act in the Superdome was his first three-interception postseason performance to deal New Orleans a fourth straight playoff heartbreak. Don’t be surprised if the Saints aggressively pursue a blockbuster trade for Deshaun Watson.
Though Tom Brady also struggled in this historic meeting between 40-something quarterbacks, he turned those four Saints turnovers into three touchdowns to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of New Orleans. If Tampa Bay is going to be the first team to play a Super Bowl on their home-field they’ll need to win a cold weather game against the hottest quarterback in the league. Fortunately for the Bucs, that’s how they advanced to their first Super Bowl.
Maybe the Browns is the Browns after all.
Cleveland gave the defending champs a worthy fight but ultimately fell short because of the worst rule in football that looms large in eerily similar fashion to the game known simply as “The Fumble.” In this case, however, the Browns seem less like a snakebit team and more like an annual contender that will eventually break through to their first Super Bowl.
Kansas City’s victory was a pyrrhic one indeed — Patrick Mahomes is the single greatest asset in the sport, yet Andy Reid’s insistence on literally running him into the ground on a third-and-short situation rather than giving it to an actual running back is baffling. It’s a decision that just might cost the Chiefs a return trip to the Super Bowl.
Everything Baltimore does well betrayed them in Buffalo: Justin Tucker missed multiple kicks. Lamar Jackson threw his first career red zone interception before leaving with a concussion. The run game — which churned 1,573 rushing yards during the Ravens’ six-game win streak, most in that span since 1949 — looked mortal. I know it’s not another one-and-done like the previous two seasons, but the way they lost this game will haunt the Ravens ever more.
But fret not, Maryland football fans — Stefon Diggs will represent your interests with style. The former Terp was half of Josh Allen’s passing productivity, notching his second straight playoff game with 100 receiving yards and a touchdown — Buffalo’s first to do each since heyday heroes James Lofton and Thurman Thomas, respectively. It feels like the Bills’ heyday is back and it couldn’t happen to a classier fan base.
He hosted Jeopardy! and then continued his “Scorched Earth Tour” by dominating a rare quarterback matchup and the league’s top-ranked defense in one fell swoop.
Who is Aaron Rodgers?
Incredibly, Rodgers will play at home in the NFC Championship Game for the first time in five career appearances — good luck beating Green Bay with Rodgers playing out of his mind AND the run game (188 yards against the NFL’s top-ranked defense) and defense (four sacks of Jared Goff) playing lights out.
Meanwhile, Goff’s obvious regression since the Rams’ Super Bowl LIII loss has Sean McVay rightfully noncommittal about his quarterback’s place on the team in the future, creating the likely scenario that 2021 will be Goff’s last chance to prove he’s capable of leading Los Angeles to championship glory. With that looming quarterback question and L.A. set to replace their defensive coordinator for the second straight year, this may have been the Rams’ last best chance at a title run.
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