NFL 2020-2021 Playoffs Preview

Riley Bird and Nick Mollahan

As the 2020-2021 National Football League (NFL) regular season winds down, the most exciting time of the year for football fans begins. The NFL Playoffs began on Jan. 9 and will culminate with the Super Bowl on Feb. 7.  The NFL introduced a new playoff format this year, as 14 teams will make the postseason compared to the usual 12, but only the top team in each conference (The Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs) will receive a bye in the first round. The remaining 12 teams played in the  “Super Wild Card Weekend” that took place on Jan. 9 to 10. The Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, and New Orleans Saints all came out of that weekend victorious.


National Football Conference (NFC):


Green Bay Packers (1) vs Los Angeles Rams (6)  :

As the number one seed in their conference, the Green Bay Packers are coming off an extra week of rest and their home-field advantage is going to make them a tough team to beat on Saturday. Not to mention, they have the highest scoring offense in the league this year. The forecast for Jan.16 in Green Bay predicts a high of 28 and a low of 18, which will be a huge change from the 82 degree weather that Los Angeles has been accustomed to all year.. However, the Packers weak link is their offensive line and the Rams have the best defensive front in the league. Led by star lineman Aaron Donald, the Rams defense will be a very formidable opponent for the Green Bay offense. 


Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5) vs New Orleans Saints (2): 

With Tampa Bay’s losing track record against the Saints, they should be the last team the Buccaneers want to play this week. As they’ve already lost to the Saints twice this year, , Tom Brady and the Buccaneers are coming into this week with a vengeance. However, since those two games, the Bucs offense has gotten a lot stronger. Brady is getting rid of the ball a lot faster, and wide receiver Antonio Brown is now fully incorporated into their offense. The Saints have had the upper hand all year, beating the Buccaneers by a combined 46 points both games. “I’m most excited to watch the Saints vs Buccaneers game because Drew Brees and Tom Brady are two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time,” senior Will Hollerbach said. 


American Football Conference (AFC)


Buffalo Bills (2) vs Baltimore Ravens (7):

The Buffalo Bills have become one of the hottest teams in all of the NFL this year. With one of the best quarterback, wide receiver duos in the league, the Bills Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, is going to be an extremely hard matchup for any defense to slow down. The Ravens offense is led by  quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is coming off of an Most Valuable Player ( MVP) year. “I am really excited to watch the Ravens vs Bills game because Jackson and Allen are so explosive and high scoring,” senior Griffin Hallahan said. These offenses are both in the top five highest scoring offenses in the NFLr, with Buffalo averaging 31.3 points per game and the Ravens averaging 29.3. Due to Buffalo having a higher seed, they have a home-field advantage, where they have only lost one game this year.


Kansas City Chiefs (1) vs Cleveland Browns (6):

Kansas City has been dominating the league all year, with the best record in the NFL at 14-2. But the Browns have been fighting hard to compete with their division, just barely making the playoffs with a great record of 11-5 on the year. Cleveland beat the number one seed in their division, the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of playoffs; while the Chiefs had a bye for the first round of the playoffs. The Browns’ Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Myles Garrett, and many others have been a menace out on the field this year and are looking to bring that same energy to the reigning champions , the Chiefs. With Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, plus the rest of the offense, it is almost impossible to stop their offense . Both of these teams should score a lot on offense, but Cleveland has to keep up with Mahomes and that dynamic offense. “I really think the chiefs will win it again, they look just as good as last year, if not better,” junior Ben Murphy said.