The NFL playoffs are finally among us. Fourteen teams made it through the gauntlet that was the first ever NFL regular season with 17 games. The Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans finished as the No. 1 seeds in the NFC and AFC, and both get byes for the first week of the playoffs.
Two teams, who most analysts predicted could be Super Bowl Contenders, didn’t even make the playoffs. The Baltimore Ravens are a prime example of a team who had it all in the beginning of the year, but injuries, COVID issues, and lost momentum caused them to finish the year 8-9 and miss the playoffs. The Ravens were 8-3 and in prime position to be the No. 1 seed at the end of the year. Then the team’s best player, QB Lamar Jackson, got hurt, the already injury riddled defense started playing terrible, and the coaching staff started calling questionable plays.
In the midst of losing their last six games, they had two golden opportunities to send two of the six into overtime after scoring at the end of regulation. But instead of kicking the extra point, the coaching staff elected to go for two both times and lost both games. Baltimore had too many unheard of bad breaks that they couldn’t overcome, and now they’ll be sitting at home during the playoffs.
The Cleveland Browns were also considered Super Bowl favorites by many in the preseason. They started the season winning three of their first four games. Then their QB Baker Mayfield got injured and could never recover enough to effectively lead the team to victories. The Browns also got rid of their top receiver Odell Beckham Jr. during the season. So all of this caused their season to implode down the stretch.
Then we have other teams that we didn’t expect to be favored to win the Super Bowl but are now. Nobody was expecting the Tennessee Titans to have this good of a season. But being the No. 1 seed now, many people are predicting they’ll make it to the Super Bowl. After Derrick Henry, their star running back(RB), got injured in Week 8, everyone else had to step up; especially their stellar defense.
D’Onta Foreman and Dontrell Hilliard also did admirable as the backup RBs by rushing for over 100 yards four times the rest of the season. It will be exciting to see what this team will do in the playoffs. Of course, you have the old guard in the playoffs and they are really hungry for a championship. Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are back as the top seed in the NFC, with a 13-4 record, and looking to win their first Super Bowl since 2011.
Rodgers is considered to be the MVP this season with 4,115 passing yards, 37 TD passes, and only four interceptions. The Packers also have the best receiver in the game in Davante Adams. He has caught 11 TDs with 1,553 yards. Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are definitely back in it with a 13-4 record and feeling they have something to prove with most analysts thinking the Packers will go to the Super Bowl instead of them.
The Bucs still have a stellar team with some thinking Brady could win the MVP with 5,316 yards passing, 43 TDs, and 12 interceptions. He also has an incredible receiving core with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski. Another old favorite is also in the playoffs again and looking to go to his third straight Super Bowl. Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs started out slow losing four of their first seven games.
But he rallied them to finish the year with a 12-5 record and 1st place in their division, as he finished with 4,839 yards passing, 37 TDs, and 13 interceptions. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill and Tight End Travis Kelce are more reasons Kansas City might be unstoppable. Any of these three teams could have a very incredible playoff run.
Waiting in the wings, however, are three up and coming teams with high aspirations. Dak Prescott returns with his Dallas Cowboys after he suffered a near career ending injury last year. He has played lights-out while leading Dallas to a 12-5 record and throwing for 4,449 yards and 37 TDs. Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals and rookie Mac Jones of the New England Patriots are in the playoffs for the first time.
They’ve both had unexpectedly great seasons while leading their teams to 10-7 records. Joe Burrow had 4,611 yards passing and 34 TDs, Mac Jones had 3,802 passing yards and 22 TDs, and they could play each other next week.
All these teams I’ve mentioned along with the Las Vegas Raiders, Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, and Pittsburgh Steelers start fighting it out on the field this Saturday. The plays, the passing, the runs, the hits, and the touchdowns will come and go, but only one team will be standing after Super Bowl LVI on February 13, 2022.
Article by: Chris Steele, iHearts143Quotes Team member