Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The NFL playoffs get underway with an expanded Wild Card weekend. The NFL playoffs have arrived to conclude what’s been one of the most bizarre seasons of professional football in recent memory. The ever-present threat of Covid has hung over the NFL all season, infecting players and postponing games along the way. Now the league is ready to kick off an expanded playoff field in the Wild Card round with eight games set to take place between Saturday and Sunday.
Everything still feels like it moves through Kansas City, with the defending Super Bowl Champions looking as good as ever. Patrick Mahomes is still the best quarterback in the NFL, the Chiefs have buckets of talent on both sides of the ball, and Andy Reid remains one of the league’s great strategists. However, there’s a challenge coming from Buffalo that can’t be ignored.
The Bills being this good isn’t exactly a surprise, but Josh Allen taking a step forward to becoming one of the league’s biggest threats is. Trading for Stefon Diggs was the missing piece Buffalo needed, and now the team looks like it could surprise beyond just making it to the AFC Championship — they could actually win it all.
The NFC, on the other hand, feels wide open. Sure, the Packers and Saints are still in the mix (especially with Drew Brees back), but there have been ample times this season where both teams have looked less dominant than usual. That’s kind of the story of the NFC in general. A lot of teams that are really good, and have excellent records — but none look convincing enough to hang an entire season on.
Green Bay should certainly be a factor late in the postseason, but a lot of attention will be paid to Tamp Bay. The Buccaneers have been up and down, even with their new-look roster, but this is the time where Tom Brady will earn his worth. A steady, experienced playoff hand should be able to lead this team deeper than they’d otherwise go.
This is all a lead up to Super Bowl LV, set to take place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay on February 7. Here’s the full schedule for the playoffs:
Wild Card Round
Byes: Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers
Saturday, January 9.
Buffalo Bills 27, Indianapolis Colts 24
Super Wild Card weekend started with a bang on the heels of another pair of massive performances from the Bills duo of Josh Allen (324 yards passing, three total touchdowns) and Stefon Diggs (Six catches, 128 yards, touchdown). It was back and forth throughout, but the Colts rallied back from two scores down in the fourth quarter to give Philip Rivers and the Indy offense to tie or take the lead on the game’s final drive.
This game had it all whether it was absurd plays from Allen, highlight-reel catches along the sideline, and controversial calls from the officiating crew. The Bills will now host the highest-remaining AFC seed next weekend in the Divisional Round.
Read Buffalo Rumblings for continued Bills coverage
Here’s what our Bills community wrote on Allen after the game:
Josh Allen was much better today than last year in the postseason and looked like he had calmed down. He was patient, he found receivers down the field, he mostly avoided pressure. In short, he got the monkey off his back from the Houston Texans loss. He needs to buy Daryl Williams a steak dinner and a new car or something for recovering that late-game fumble, but Allen went 26-of-35 for 324 yards and 2 TDs through the air and led the team in rushing, carrying it 11 times for 54 yards and another score. When your QB adds 376 yards and three TDs, you’re probably gonna be ok.
Read Stampede Blue for continued Colts coverage
Check out the takeaways to the playoff loss from our Colts community:
Of course, not all is bad for Colts fans. This team has made strides in a positive direction and overcome incredible adversity after Andrew Luck’s surprising retirement just weeks before the 2019 season. The defense has looked strong with the addition of DeForest Buckner. The offense still is still one of the best in the league. Rookie running back Jonathan Taylor looks dominant and rookie receiver Michael Pittman Jr. had a big game in the playoffs.
To this point, Chris Ballard has done an incredible job playing a tough hand and there’s reason to feel confident he’ll continue to do so. The Colts have a lot of players and possible change coming this season but they have a healthy budget sheet and there’s no doubt that Ballard’s binder has a plan for what comes next.
Los Angeles Rams 30, Seattle Seahawks 20
The Rams pulled off the upset win behind another dominant defensive performance and an inspired effort from quarterback Jared Goff. Los Angeles decided to start its regular backup, John Wolford, with Goff still recovering from hand surgery, but when Wolford was injured in the first quarter on a hit from Seahawks defensive back Jamal Adams, Goff was inserted back into the lineup. He finished the game with 9-of-19 for 155 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. The Rams’ offense was mostly powered by rookie running back Cam Akers, who ran for 131 yards and added 45 yards receiving.
Los Angeles’ defense controlled the game throughout. Cornerback Darious Williams intercepted a Russell Wilson screen pass and took it back for a touchdown, while Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd provided pressure with two sacks each. Donald did exit the game with injury, and didn’t return. LA also lost top wide out Cooper Kupp to injury during the fourth quarter. The Rams will now face the top-seeded Packers in the second round if the Saints beat the Bears on Sunday.
Read Turf Show Times for more on the Rams
Here’s what our Rams community said about the win:
The Rams turned the ball over at least once in all 16 regular season games, but perhaps a conservative approach — and a lead throughout the contest — was just what the offense needed as they didn’t turn the ball once on Saturday.
Read Field Gulls for more on the Seahawks
Here’s what our Seahawks community wrote about the win:
This is a bitter pill to swallow. Russell Wilson was terrible and worse than his stats showed. DK Metcalf did get two touchdowns and Chris Carson ran hard like normal but otherwise Seattle was outplayed and just sloppy. Bad run defense, -2 in turnovers, tons of sacks allowed by the offensive line, tons of drops, it all sucked.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Washington Football Team (8:15 p.m. ET)
Sunday, January 10.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Tennessee Titans (1:05 p.m. ET)
Chicago Bears vs. New Orleans Saints (4:40 p.m. ET)
Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (8:15 p.m. ET)
Saturday, January 16.
NFC Divisional Round (TBD)
AFC Divisional Round (TBD)
Sunday, January 17.
NFC Divisional Round (TBD)
AFC Divisional Round (TBD)
Saturday, January 23.
NFC Championship Game (TBD)
Sunday, January 24.
AFC Championship Game (TBD)
Sunday, February 7.
Super Bowl LV