We are on to the Divisional Round which will take us to Green Bay and Buffalo, where the temperatures will be 36 and 37 degrees, respectively. To be clear, those are the highs. Brrr.
Rams @ Packers: Sean McVay and his Los Angeles Rams are heading to Green Bay to face his former offensive coordinator, and now Packers’ head coach, Matt LaFleur. The Rams are coming off a gutsy performance from QB Jared Goff and a stellar performance from their defense. Aaron Donald is dealing with a rib injury, but McVay said, “The terminator will be ready.” The match-up to watch will be between Rams’ cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Packers’ WR Davante Adams. Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers is having a MVP season, but if Donald and LA’s defensive front can bring pressure, they can wreak havoc. That being said, Rodgers looks like a man on a mission and this is a better Packers team than we saw in last year’s playoffs. Advantage, Green Bay. Kickoff is tomorrow at 4:35 pm ET/1:35 pm PT on FOX.
Ravens @ Bills: Last week, Buffalo beat Indianapolis on the shoulders of QB Josh Allen. This week, Allen is going to need a little help from his friends to beat Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore is riding a six-game win streak, while Buffalo is riding a seven-game win streak. In last week’s win over the Titans, Jackson rushed for 136 yards, while the Bills defense gave up 163 yards rushing to the Colts. You see where I’m going here? Allen was 26-of-34 for 324 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 54 yards and a TD. I’ll take dynamic quarterbacks for 1,000, please. So, the question will be, whose defense can help out its offense the most? The Ravens held Derrick Henry to 40 yards rushing last week. Advantage, Baltimore? I’m going with it. Kickoff is tomorrow at 8:15 pm ET/5:15 pm PT on NBC.
Battles of the GOATs
The NFL’s Sunday night Divisional match-up is going to be lit, when Tom Brady (43) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head to New Orleans to face Drew Brees (42) and the Saints. The Saints have already beat the Buccaneers twice this season, so either the Buccs are due or the Buccs are doomed. TBD.
Tampa Bay has been inconsistent all year and has only beaten one team with a winning record, so there’s that. That being said, Brady and the Buccs offense has been clicking, and they’re going to need to continue to trend upwards if they want to advance to the NFC Championship game.
Even with the lopsided regular season contests, these teams match up well. The Buccaneers scored the third-most points in the NFL this season, and they boast the eighth-best scoring defense. The Saints rank fifth in scoring offense and sixth in scoring defense. Tampa Bay was first in defending the run. New Orleans was fourth. You see where this is headed.
There’s no doubt the Buccaneers will make a better showing than they have against New Orleans and we’re going to be treated to two of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. Who am I picking? The QB in his 40s 😀. Kickoff is at 6:40 pm ET/3:40 pm PT on FOX.
Browns at Chiefs
Well, well, well how about those Cleveland Browns, marching into Pittsburgh and stomping the Steelers? But that was the Wild Card. It’s Divisional Round time, as Baker Mayfield meets Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.
The Browns will have cornerback Denzel Ward back on Sunday, and they’re going to need him when facing the league’s #1 overall offense and top passing offense. Mahomes is magic and he has, like literally, all the offensive weapons, including Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. If the Chiefs have a weakness, it’s on the defensive side of the ball, where they will need Chris Jones and company to pressure Mayfield.
Kansas City is a juggernaut, but if Cleveland can control time of possession and make pretty much zero mistakes, the Browns can win this game. All that being said, it’s Mahomes’ world. We just live in it. Advantage, KC. Kickoff is at 3:05 pm ET/12:05 pm PT on CBS.
Harden and the Nets
James Harden said bye to Houston and hello to Brooklyn, as he was traded to the Nets in a four-team trade involving the Indiana Pacers and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Harden has not been happy with the Rockets and his displeasure was not a kept secret. Now the Nets have Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving (Irving will most likely return to the team tomorrow after missing several games for personal reasons and after quarantining after breaking COVID protocols).
Brooklyn sent guard Caris LeVert and three first-round draft picks to Houston, while the Nets get Harden and a 2024 draft pick from Cleveland. Here is the breakdown of what everyone else gets:
- Players to Rockets: Victor Oladipo (from Pacers), Dante Exum (from Cavs), Rodions Kurucs (from Nets)
- Draft Picks to Rockets: Brooklyn’s three unprotected first-round draft picks — 2022, 2024 and 2026 — in the deal, plus pick swaps in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027. Also, Milwaukee’s 2022 first-round pick, via Cleveland
- Pacers: Caris LeVert (from Rockets via Nets); 2023 second-round pick from the Rockets
- Cavaliers: Jarrett Allen (from Nets), Taurean Prince (from Nets)
The Coach, The Coach, The Coach
Bad seasons mean changes and the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Jets both had very bad seasons, going 1-15 and 2-14, respectively. But that was 2020. Onward and upward.
With that in mind, the Jacksonville Jaguars hired Urban Meyer as their new head coach. Yes, the same Urban Meyer who won three national titles in 17 years as a college coach, most recently in 2014 with Ohio State. Meyer replaces Doug Marrone who was 25-44 (playoffs included) in four seasons.
Over in the Big Apple, the Jets have agreed in principle with Robert Saleh to be their new head coach. Saleh spent four years as the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator, taking a 32nd-ranked defense and making it an elite one. Even with a myriad of injuries in 2020, the 49ers’ defense finished fifth in yards and 17th in scoring. They got a good one, both on-and-off the field.
And another one, as the Atlanta Falcons, who finished 2020 4-12, have agreed to terms with Arthur Smith as their next head coach. Smith spent the last two seasons as offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans.