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

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