New College Football Playoff Format

‘Word on the Street’

Frank Coyle

College Football Playoffs 2024
Format Confirmed For 12-Team Playoff

The College Football Playoff (CFP) Board of Managers today unanimously revised the qualifying criteria for the 12-team event to now include the five highest-ranked conference champions, plus the next seven highest-ranked teams as determined by the CFP Selection Committee.

“This is a very logical adjustment for the College Football Playoff based on the evolution of our conference structures since the board first adopted this new format in September 2022,” said Dr. Mark Keenum, President of Mississippi State University and Chair of the CFP Board of Managers. “I know this change will also be well received by student-athletes, coaches and fans. We all will be pleased to see this new format come to life on the field this postseason.”

This change modifies the original plan, which called for the bracket each year to include the six highest-ranked conference champions, plus the next six highest-ranked teams.

Under the 12-team playoff format that begins this fall, the four highest-ranked conference champions will be seeded one through four and each will receive a first-round bye, while teams seeded five through 12 will play each other in the first round on the home field of the higher-ranked team. (The team ranked #5 will host #12; team #6 will meet team #11; team #7 will play team #10; and team #8 will meet #9.) The quarterfinals and semifinals will be played in the New Year’s Six bowl games, the national championship game will continue to be at a neutral site. No conference will qualify automatically and there will be no limit on the number of participants from a conference.

About the College Football Playoff

The College Football Playoff (CFP) is the event that crowns the national champion in college football. The CFP Selection Committee ranks the top 25 teams at the end of the season, and the 12 playoff participants consist of the six highest ranked conference champions, plus the next six highest ranked teams. The four highest ranked conference champions will be seeded one through four and receive a first-round bye. The schools seeded five through eight will host those seeded nine through 12 in first-round games. The quarterfinals and semifinals rotate annually among six bowl games – the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, Vrbo Fiesta Bowl, Capital One Orange Bowl, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Rose Bowl Game presented by Prudential and the Allstate Sugar Bowl. This year’s quarterfinals will take place on Dec. 31, 2024 and January 1, 2025, while the semifinals will be January 9-10, 2025. The College Football Playoff National Championship will be Monday, January 20, 2025, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. For additional information on the College Football Playoff, visit

Members of the CFP board of managers include many conference Presidents.  

 Frank Coyle is a long-time scout with nationwide ties with NFL and college coaches, scouts and player agents. He is a member of the FWAA and voter in major college player awards – Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Lombardi, Thorpe, Biletnikoff etc. for the past 30 years. He writes College Football Mondays weekly during the season.

 He has a new column ‘The Word on the Street’ dedicated for the NFL Draft and Free agency insight and news with unique content during January through May. He was a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He does sports radio shows for CBS and ESPN on a year-round basis related to NFL and College Football especially during the postseason team and All-star Bowl time. He has worked for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Yahoo and Rivals sports publications and web sites

NFL Draft 2024 – Positional Rankings

NFL Draft 2024 – Positional Rankings

Offensive Linemen – Top Ten Prospects

Prospect Rankings – NFL Draft 2024 – Feb Rankings
Pre-NFL Combine 2024

Photo – Joe Alt – Notre Dame
(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Draft Insiders’ Digest – 33rd Season Publication & Web Site
“The NFL Draft Publication Pro Scouts Buy”
1-732- 842- 4749

Prospect Rankings – Feb Rankings Report includes Top 500+ Prospects – available now

Offensive Players – Tackles, Guards & Centers
Frank Coyle / Head scout

Top Ten Linemen

Offensive Tackles
# Player                         Ht/Wt      College
1 Olu Fashanu                6-5, 325    Penn State
2 Joe Alt                          6-7, 315    Notre Dame
3 Tailese Fuaga              6-6, 330  Oregon State
4 Tyler Guyton               6-7, 330  Oklahoma
5 Amarius Mims            6-6, 320   Georgia
6 JC Latham                   6-5, 335   Alabama
7 Jordan Morgan           6-5, 315    Arizona
8 Christian Jones          6-5, 320   Texas
9 Patrick Paul                 6-7, 330   Houston
10 Kingsley Saumaala   6-5, 330   BYU

# Player                          Ht/Wt       College
1 Troy Fantanu                  6-4, 315     Washington
2 Cooper Beebe                 6-3, 335     Kansas State
3 Graham Barton              6-5, 310     Duke
4 Zak Zinter                        6-5, 315     Michigan
5 Christian Mahogany      6-3, 330    Boston College
6 Christian Haynes           6-3, 320    UConn
7 Javion Cohen                  6-4, 320   Miami
8 Tanor Bortolini              6-4, 305   Wisconsin
9 Sataoa Laumea               6-4, 320   Utah
10 Beaux Limmer              6-5, 300   Arkansas

# Player                                 Ht/Wt      College
1 Jackson Powers-Johnson   6-3, 335     Oregon
2 Sedrick Van Pran                6-4, 310      Georgia
3 Zach Frazier                         6-3, 315      West Virginia
4 Drake Nugent                      6-1, 300      Michigan
5 Kingsley Equakun               6-3, 300     Florida
6 Matthew Lee                        6-3, 295      Miami
7 Dylan McMahon                 6-3, 305      NC State
8 Nick Samac                          6-4, 300     Michigan State
9 Will Putnam                        6-4, 315      Clemson
10 Bryan Hudson                   6-3, 305     Louisville

Chiefs Win Back to Back Super Bowls

Chiefs Win Back to Back Super Bowls

Patrick Mahomes Directs Thrilling Victory

Frank Coyle

The Kansas City Chiefs won SB LVIII in overtime on a dramatic drive by QB Patrick Mahomes 25-22. It was back to back SB titles for KC behind the guidance of HC Andy Reid and the brilliant Mahomes who won his third MVP game award in the process.

Mahomes worked his magic one more time in OT after the 49ers took a lead on their first possession with a FG. Mahomes directed the Chiefs on a long drive including a couple impressive scrambles before hitting ex-Jet Mecole Hardman on a short outlet TD pass to secure another title. TE Travis Kelce had a strong game, especially in the 2nd half with 9 receptions for 93 yards with Taylor Swift and her entourage cheering him and the Chiefs through the drama.

The KC defense was brilliant again directed by DC Steve Spagnuolo. Chief defenders, DT Chris Jones, edge George Karloftis, corner Trent McDuffie and backer Nick Bolton spearheaded the aggressive defense which held every team in the regular and postseasons to under 28 points.

Ironically, the Chiefs were the underdog in this SB matchup for the third consecutive postseason game. That’s’ incredible for a club which won back to back titles and their 3rd championship in five years. Every win was away from Arrowhead Stadium in KC with the SB victory in Las Vegas the home of their arch rival, Raiders’ home turf.

Chiefs’ back to back titles was the first repeat since the 2003-2004 Patriots. They will attempt to be the first team ever to win three consecutive SB titles next season. That makes the 2024 postseason were interesting with the Free agency period beginning in mid-March and the NFL Draft 2024 in late April pivotal in maintaining and building their roster for the record

Hail to the Chiefs

NFL 2023 Season Honors – Hall of Fame Class 2024

NFL 2023 Season Honors – Hall of Fame Class 2024

The NFL held the 13th annual NFL Honor awards. Hosted by Keegan-Michael Key, the show included the announcement of The Associated Press’ NFL awards and revealed the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024.

Frank Coyle/Publisher

Complete list of 2023 NFL winners

AP Most Valuable Player
Lamar Jackson, QB Ravens – 2nd MVP award

AP Coach of the Year
Kevin Stefanski, Browns head coach – Went 11-6 with 5 starting QBs

AP Comeback Player of the Year
Joe Flacco, QB Browns – Led strong 2nd half playoff drive with multiple 300 yard passing games

AP Offensive Player of the Year
Christian McCaffrey, RB 49ers – Premier runner in game with nose for end zone

AP Defensive Player of the Year
Myles Garrett, Edge Browns – Powerful defender is a game changer

AP Offensive Rookie of the Year
C.J. Stroud, QB Texans – Magical first season

AP Defensive Rookie of the Year
Will Anderson Jr., Edge Texans – Impact defender spearheaded a new defense

Moment of the Year
Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb’s catch vs the Lions

Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year presented by Nationwide
Cameron Heyward, DE Steelers – Excellent NFL spokesman

Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024
Dwight Freeney – Best edge rusher for a generation
Devin Hester – Greatest return specialist in NFL history
Andre Johnson – Prototypical modern receiver
Julius Peppers – Complete edge defender wrecked offenses
Patrick Willis – Ferocious three down Mike man dominated for 8 years
Randy Gradishar (senior) – Blood and guts Mike man
Steve McMichael (senior) – Relentless tackle set the pace for Bears great defense

FedEx Air & Ground Players of the Year
Brock Purdy, 49ers quarterback; Christian McCaffrey, 49ers running back

Salute to Service Award presented by USAA
Joe Cardona, Patriots long snapper

AP Assistant Coach of the Year
Jim Schwartz, Browns defensive coordinator

Easy to Celebrate Moment of the Year
Tommy DeVito, Giants quarterback

NFL Fan of the Year
Tom Grossi, Packers

Deacon Jones Sack Leader Award
T.J. Watt, Steelers outside linebacker

Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award
Bobby Wagner, Seahawks linebacker

NFLPA Alan Page Community Award
Calais Campbell, Falcons defensive lineman

NFL FLAG Players of the Year
Girls: Allison Gandlin; Boys: Ryder Noche

Jim Brown Award
Christian McCaffrey, 49ers running back

Don Shula High School Coach of the Year
Andy Lowry, Columbine High School
Shane Fairfield, Muskegon High School

Angry Run of the Year
Najee Harris, Steelers running back

2024 Senior Bowl – Game Day

2024 Senior Bowl – Game Day

Frank Coyle/ Publisher

The 2024 Senior Shrine Bowl 75th game is set to kick off at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. The Senior Bowl showcased 120+ of the best pro prospects for the 2024 NFL Draft.

Here are 21 of the prospects who impressed over the practices and ready for strong performances in the game.

2024 Senior Bowl – Game Day

Players to Watch


QB Spencer Rattler – South Carolina – 6001, 219
Quick accurate delivery and mobility impressed scouts in practices.

QB Bo Nix – Oregon – 6017, 218
Home turf helps and ran the practices well. Set for big game.

QB Michael Pratt – Tulane – 6023, 216
Accurate savvy leader settled into the practices nicely and can shine in game.

RB MarShawn Lloyd – USC – 5091, 217
Quick tailback displayed well rounded skills and ready for big game.

RB Ray Davis – Kentucky – 5084, 228
Powerful short tailback had a strong week and showed inside/outside running talent.

RB Cody Schrader – Missouri – 5082, 207
Blood and guts tailback is focused for a big game and workhorse role.

WR Ladd McConkey – Georgia – 5114. 187
Quick sure handed receiver elevated his stock with a strong week in a few roles.

WR Malachi Corley – Western Kentucky – 5105, 215
Impressive athletic pass catcher fit like a glove here vs the best in the nation.

WR Devontez Walker – North Carolina – 6014, 197
Athletic receiver displayed well rounded skills to improve his stock nicely.

WR Roman Wilson – Michigan – 5104, 186
His combination of speed, quickness and sure hands turned heads in practices.

OT Taliese Fuaga – Oregon State – 6057, 332
Long athletic dominated in the one-on-one drills.

OT Patrick Paul – Houston – 6070, 333
NFL ready lineman displayed left tackle pass protection talent.

OL Jackson Powers-Johnson Oregon – 6032, 334
Powerful versatile blocker handled every assignment flawlessly.


DL Darius Robinson   Missouri          6050    286
Quick powerful lineman displayed dominant talent from the first snap.

DL Gabe Hall              Baylor              6056    298
Underrated prospect stepped up with several impressive reps.

DL Braden Fiske                     Florida State   6035    295
Quick powerful three technique lineman shined in drills.

LB Cedric Gray                       North Carolina             6016    232
Fast defender went sideline to sideline to finish.

LB Payton Wilson                   NC State                     6041    234
Instinctive defender displayed three down talent and early NFL grade.

CB Cam Hart              Notre Dame                6027    204
Long corner looked sharp in coverage.

CB Khyree Jackson   Oregon                        6034    203
Tall corner displayed closing speed and good ball instincts.

CB Quinyon Mitchell   Toledo                         6003    195
Well-rounded cover man shined in drills, as one of the premier prospects at the event.

Senior Bowl Week – Practice

‘Word on the Street’

Frank Coyle

New column – Exclusive for Subscribers

NFL Postseason

Senior Bowl Week

Weigh-in and Practices

National Team – Monday

The Senior Bowl week has begun with the usual surprises at the Weigh-in followed by the early practices. The National team worked out in the morning and showcased a strong overall club. The National club featured two highly regarded QBs in Michael Penix Jr., 6024, 212 and Bo Nix, 6017, 218. Both adjusted nicely to the setting and took command immediately. Penix throws an accurate deep ball along with a strong arm. Nix moved well in the pocket and was accurate and good timing to hit receivers in stride. Runners, MarShawn Lloyd, 5091,217 and Rasheen Ali, 5113, 204 had an impressive first day practice. Floyd displayed quick footwork to slide in the hole, change directions and a quick burst into the second level. Ali ran strong with the burst to get into the secondary. He also caught the ball well. Wideouts, Devontez Walker, 6014, 197 and Roman Wilson, 5104, 186 shined in the Tuesday morning practice. Walker was smooth into his routes with the burst to separate. He worked well from the outside and the slot. Wilson ran crisp routes and showed natural speed to run vertical routes. He moved easily through coverage and separated well. TE Theo Johnson, 6060, 257 displayed soft hands and fine length. He moved well in routes with good footwork to create separation and provide a sure target. OT Taliese Fuaga, 6057, 332 was imposing physically and moved easily in his slide and into the second level. He has great length and core strength that was evident on every snap. He pancaked edge defender Laiatu Latu in a one-on-one drill. He impressed scouts immediately and looks NFL ready. OC Jackson Powers-Johnson, 6032, 334 showed power and quickness with heavy hands to control nose tackles. He was quick to strike defenders with the mobility to adjust and reset nicely. RT Roger Rosengarten, 6054, 311 displayed sound technique and the ability to anchor and adjust to secondary moves. He helped his cause in the first practice.

DL Gabe Hall, 6056, 298 flashed quickness and strong hands to win early on the down. He moved around the front and gained penetration consistently. DL Marshawn Kneeland, 6030, 268 showed power as a bull rusher. He held the edge well in run support and impressed overall. Edge Laiatu Latu, 6046, 261 was explosive on the snap and was flexible thru the rush. He used his hands well to keep blockers off his body. Edge Brandon Dorlus, 6031, 272 was active from the outside. He held the edge well in run support. LB Adisa Isaac, 6045, 250 was quick off the edge flashing power and strong hands to win vs bigger blockers. He shows quickness to move along the line to pursue to finish. LB Payton Wilson, 6041, 234 was active as expected. He reads plays quickly with the athleticism to beat blockers to the hole. He uses his hands well to separate and slip blockers to finish. CB Quinyon Mitchell, 6003, 195 was impressive in coverage. He moves easily and opens his hips quickly to break on the ball. He ran stride for stride with top receivers with the instincts to locate the ball and compete for the pass. S Josh Proctor, 6014, 198 shows NFL size and athleticism. He ability to cover is still raw and needs work, though his athleticism allows him to make up for mistakes.

We will provide Subscribers Special Emails related to the Senior Bowl practice week.

Frank Coyle/ Head scout


Senior Bowl Weigh-in

Senior Bowl Weigh-in

2024 Senior Bowl Weigh-Ins and Measurements

Frank Coyle/ Publisher

The 2024 Senior Bowl weigh-ins and measurements for the 75th edition of the college football all-star event in Mobile.

The 2024 Senior Bowl is a week of events designed which showcases 120+ of the best pro prospects for the 2024 NFL Draft. The Senior Bowl weigh-ins and measurements kicked off the action, providing vital information for teams and analysts.

The 2024 Senior Shrine Bowl weigh-ins and measurements are as crucial a part of the schedule. Clubs interview prospects over the week, in addition to current physical status including any injury updates. The practices start on Tuesday and the 75th edition of the Senior Bowl itself kicks off at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024.

Frank Coyle is a long-time scout with nationwide ties with NFL and college coaches, scouts and player agents. He is a member of the FWAA and voter in major college player awards – Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Lombardi, Thorpe, Biletnikoff etc. for the past 30 years. He writes College Football Mondays weekly during the season. He has a new column ‘The Word on the Street’ dedicated for the NFL Draft and Free agency with unique content during December through May.

He was a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He does sports radio shows for CBS and ESPN on a year-round basis related to NFL and College Football especially during the postseason team and All-star Bowl time. He has worked for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Yahoo and Rivals sports publications and web sites

Top 100 Prospects – NFL Draft 2024

Top 100 Pro Prospects for NFL Draft 2024

Frank Coyle/ Publisher

January, 2024 – underclassmen eligible declared by Jan 15, 2024
Pre-Senior bowl and East-West Shrine games – Draft Insiders’ staff will attend both the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine games and practices. We will detailed reports for Full subscriber via email and in the February newsletter.

January Newsletter is available – Top 150 Prospects, Three Round Mock Draft and Underclassemen

#        Pos      Pro Prospect               School 
1        QB       Caleb Williams             Southern Cal
2        WR       Marvin Harrison Jr         Ohio State
3        QB       Drake Maye                  North Carolina
4        QB       Jayden Daniels             LSU
5        TE        Brock Bowers                Georgia
6        OT        Olu Fashanu                 Penn State
7         WR       Malik Nabers                 LSU
8        OT        Joe Alt                         Notre Dame
9        WR       Rome Odunze               Washington
10        Edge    Dallas Turner                Alabama
11        CB        Kool-Aid McKinstry        Alabama
12        Edge    Laiatu Latu                    UCLA
13        DL        Jer’Zhan Newton           Illinois
14        Edge    Jared Verse                  Florida State
15        DB       Cooper DeJean             Iowa
16        OT        Amarius Mims               Georgia
17        WR       Keon Coleman             Florida State
18        CB        Nate Wiggins                Clemson
19        OT        Taliese Fuaga               Oregon State
20        Edge    Chop Robinson             Penn State
21        OT        JC Latham                    Alabama
22        CB        Kamari Lassiter             Georgia
23        OT        Troy Fautanu                Washington
24        QB       Michael Penix Jr.           Washington
25        CB        Terrion Arnold               Alabama
26        Edge    Chris Braswell               Alabama
27        QB       Bo Nix                         Oregon
28        OT        Tyler Guyton                 Oklahoma
29        Edge    Bralen Trice                  Washington
30        S          Tyler Nubin                   Minnesota
31        CB        Quinyon Mitchell            Toledo
32        WR       Xavier Worthy               Texas
33        OT        Jordan Morgan             Arizona
34        WR       Troy Franklin                 Oregon
35        OT        Patrick Paul                  Houston
36        WR       Xavier Legette               South Carolina
37        DL        T’Vondre Sweat             Texas
38         Edge    Jonah Elliss                  Utah
39        WR       Brian Thomas               LSU
40         S          Kamren Kinchens          Miami (Fl)
41        QB       JJ McCarthy                  Michigan
42         DL        Leonard Taylor III          Miami (Fl)
43        CB        Kalen King                    Penn State
44        OT        Kingsley Suamataia       BYU
45        OL        Cooper Beebe               Kansas State
46        LB        Edgerrin Cooper            Texas A&M
47        CB        Ennis Rakestraw           Missouri
48        OT        Graham Barton             Duke
49         DT        Kris Jenkins                  Michigan
50         OL        Zak Zinter                     Michigan
51        WR       Johnny Wilson               Florida State
52        S          Javon Bullard                Georgia
53        WR       Adonai Mitchell             Texas
54        Edge    Brandon Dorlus             Oregon
55        OT        Javon Foster                 Missouri
56         C          Jackson Powers-Johnson    Oregon
57        S          James Williams             Miami (Fl)
58        WR       Roman Wilson               Michigan
59        DL        Maason Smith               LSU
60        LB        Jeremiah Trotter Jr.       Clemson
61        WR       Jalen McMillan             Washington
62         CB        DJ James                     Auburn
63         DL        Braden Fiske                 Florida State
64         QB       Michael Pratt                 Tulane
65        LB        Payton Wilson               NC State
66        LB        Cedric Gray                  North Carolina
67        QB       Spencer Rattler             South Carolina
68         S          Calen Bullock                Southern Cal
69         TE        Cade Stover                 Ohio State
70        CB        Mike Sainristil                Michigan
71        WR       Ja’Lynn Polk                 Washington
72        LB        Tommy Eichenberg       Ohio State
73        S          Cole Bishop                  Utah
74        DL        Mekhi Wingo                 LSU
75        OL        Andrew Raym               Oklahoma
76        CB        Kris Abrams-Draine       Missouri
77        OL        Christian Mahogany       Boston College
78        RB        Trey Benson                 Florida State
79        CB        T.J. Tampa                   Iowa
80        WR       Zakhari Franklin            Mississippi
81         CB        Caelen Carson              Wake Forest
82        WR       Tory Horton                   Colorado State
83        Edge    Adisa Isaac                   Penn State
84         TE        Ja’Tavion Sanders         Texas
85        OL        Sedrick Van Pran          Georgia
86        RB        Braelon Allen                Wisconsin
87        OL        Connor Colby                Iowa
88        Edge    Zion Tupuola-Fetui        Washington
89        OL        Kiran Amegadjie            Yale
90        DL        Ruke Orhorhoro            Clemson
91         WR       Jermaine Burton            Alabama
92         CB        Khyree Jackson             Oregon State
93        RB        Blake Corum                 Michigan
94        DL        Keith Randolph             Illinois
95        CB        Josh Newton                 TCU
96        RB        Audric Estime                Notre Dame
97         LB        Junior Colson                Michigan
98        WR       Ainias Smith                  Texas A&M
99         DT        McKinney Jackson        Texas A&M
100       RB        MarShawn Lloyd           USC

Senior Bowl & East-West Games Highlight All-Star Schedule

All-Star Games and Rosters
Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Games Highlight All-Star Schedule

The two major All-Star games, the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine games are a week away featuring most of the future NFL Draft 2024 prospects. The East-West game begins practice sessions this Saturday, January 25, 2024 thru mid week. The Senior Bowl will begin with a weigh-in Monday, January 29th thru the week to the Feb. 3 game.

Draft Insiders’ staff will be at both All-star events with detailed reports via email, February Newsletter and 2024 NFL Draft Yearbook.

*** Senior Bowl Game – Feb. 3, 2024 Mobile, Alabama ***
– Hancock Whitney Stadium – 12:00 pm CT- NFL Network –
Weigh-in- Practices – Monday Jan. 29th thru Thursday Feb. 1st

For Complete Senior Bowl info including updated Roster acceptances
                    Go to

2/3 – Senior Bowl – Mobile, Alabama – NFLN

Senior Bowl 2024 Invitations

2/1 – East-West 99th Shrine Bowl – Frisco, Texas – NFLN

East-West Shrine Game – Rosters

East-West Game – Practice Schedule

Saturday, January 27 – Practice
East Team – Time: 8:15-9:45 AM
West Team – Time: 10:00-11:30 AM

Sunday, January 28
West Team – Time: 8:15-9:45 AM
East Team – Time: 10:00-11:30 AM

Monday, January 29
East Team – Time: 8:15-9:45 AM
West Team – Time: 10:00-11:30 AM

Tuesday, January 30
West Team – Time: 8:15-9:45 AM
East Team – Time: 10:00-11:30 AM

Thursday, February 1
2024 East-West Game
99th East-West Shrine Bowl

Thursday, February 1, 2024
7:00 PM CT | Watch on NFL Network
Location: Ford Center at The Star 9 Cowboys Way, Frisco, TX 75034


NFL Playoffs – ‘Word on the Street’

NFL Playoffs
‘Word on the Street’

Frank Coyle/ Head scout

New column – ‘Word on the Street – Exclusive for Subscribers – Column will provide unique insight into the NFL postseason, including the NFL Combine, All-Star games and Pro days into the NFL Draft.

NFL Postseason – Divisional Playoffs

The final eight NFL teams play this weekend in back to back double headers on Saturday and Sunday in the divisional round.  The surviving 8 clubs are all regular season divisional winners with 6 also winning in the Wild card opening round. In addition, both conference champs, the 49ers and Ravens earned bye weeks as the best teams in the conference. The starting QBs feature some of the best in the game with 7 of the 8 starters former #1 picks with two (Goff and Mayfield) former #1 overall picks. The lone exception is Brock Purdy who was ‘Mr. Irrelevant’, the last player chosen in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Lamar Jackson has the most to prove despite coming off an MVP type season. His 1-3 postseason record has been a major disappointment in Baltimore after completing his 6th season this fall.  Also, he is 0-2 at home which adds pressure to their first playoff game at home today. He faces an upstart young Texan club led by rookie sensation QB CB Stroud. Jackson has matured over his short career and is highly confident after two weeks to prepare for their opening game.  The Ravens won the 2023 opening game vs Houston 25-9. It was the rookie Stroud’s first game and he had a mistake free game and threw 44 times for 242 yards, though no big plays. He has matured quickly over the season and probable Rookie of the Year winner. He will see a complicated Ravens scheme who rely on savvy inside backers Smith and Quenn who shut down ground games.

Arguably, the best matchup involves the Kansas City Chiefs @ the Buffalo Bills, the late Sunday night game. Bring your popcorn. In recent history, this has been classic QB duel between Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen, both of whom have carried their teams to many dramatic victories. This is the next big situation, though the Bills now have the home game in frigid Buffalo. Mahomes is a two-time Super bowl champion and the only QB in the divisional round with a SB ring. Though he has never won a road playoff game. The Bills’ Josh Allen is playing very well and creates massive problems to any defense with both his arm and feet. Both QBs are fearless with rare composure in critical situations. They will test these defenses with undermanned secondaries vulnerable in this classic matchup. The winner here will challenge any club going forward.

Fearless Forecast – Playoff Matchups

Saturday, Jan. 20

4:30 p.m. (4) Houston Texans at (1) Baltimore Ravens (ESPN/ABC, ESPN+)

Texans go into Ravens’ meatgrinder in Baltimore where they plan to surprise rookie sensation QB CJ Stroud with an aggressive defense. Ravens star QB Lamar Jackson hopes to reverse his poor (1-3) postseason record with an 0-2 home record. Ravens are quietly confident this season. Texans bubble bursts on the road.
Ravens 24 – Texans 10


8:15 p.m. (7) Green Bay Packers at (1) San Francisco 49ers (FOX)

The surprising Packers blitzed the Cowboys last week behind hot young QB Jordan Love to win 48-32. The rested 49ers look to throw a variety of schemes at Love to break their offensive rhyme which has excelled over recent weeks. 49ers’ QB Brock Purdy will direct this balanced attack and has shown rare poise to shine on the big stage at times over his short career. Purdy looks to exploit the injury to top flight Packer corner Jaire Alexander who is questionable. He finds single matchups well and has the speedy playmakers to change games. Love faces his toughest test with the 49ers front seven, led by DE Bosa and backers, Warner and Greenlaw dominating the action. 49ers outclass the young Packers behind a talented group who looks to ride the home schedule back to the show.
49ers 27 – Packers 10

Sunday, Jan. 21


3 p.m. (4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers at (3) Detroit Lions (NBC, Peacock)

The hard charging Lions have gained strong momentum and support over the impressive 2023 season. QB Jared Goff has silenced critics with an outstanding consistent and clutch performances. This is a matchup of former top overall picks with Baker Mayfield making a major comeback this season. He relies on big play WR Mike Evans who will test the Lions shaky defense completely.  Lions are fired up for another home postseason game and Goff and rookie runner Gibbs are clicking on all cylinders.
Lions 31 – Bucs 17


6:30 p.m. (3) Kansas City Chiefs at (2) Buffalo Bills (CBS, Paramount+)

Many of these premier QB matchup have come down to the club with the ball last. The Chiefs victory over the Bills in the 2021 and 2022 playoffs are some of the best dramas in NFL history. Mahomes vs Allen are 3-3 in all games. The December 10, 2023 matchup had the usual suspense with the Bills winning in KC 20-17. This Sunday night may be the next great chapter.
Bills 27 Chiefs 24