The unusual 14 team NFL Playoff picture is finally set after an exciting Week 17 of pro football action that featured a few surprises, even this late in the season. At times, it seemed like we were not even going to get an NFL season this year and with no fans in the stands, the games often looked a bit strange. But, here we are. Its playoff time again in the NFL and the action lineups offer the promise of some great games still to come.
The Browns Surprise Everyone
The Cleveland Browns have made the NFL Playoffs for the first time in 18 years thanks to a team effort led by Baker Mayfield. They did so by beating one of the highest ranked teams in the NFL this year, the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were without the services of Big Ben Roethlisberger for this game only.
Cleveland goes in as the #6 seed and will, you guessed it, have to face the #3 seed Steelers once again as 4-point underdogs. This time, the Steelers will have Big Ben at the helm. Underdog bettors might just have something going with Mayfield; the Browns certainly do.
The Baltimore Ravens also got in from the AFC North by beating the Cincinnati Bengals and the #5 seed Ravens will now face Derrick Henry and the #4 Tennessee Titans, who made it into the playoffs as the 4 seed with about six inches to spare, as 3.5-point favorites.
The #2 seed Buffalo Bills destroyed the Miami Dolphins and will host the #7 seed Indianapolis Colts, who beat Jacksonville to get in, as 7-point favorites.
The Chiefs Take It Easy
The Kansas City Chiefs are the best balanced team in the NFL. Sure, they got beat by the Chargers in Week 17, but it was a game that meant nothing to the Chiefs who took advantage of the situation to rest some starters and get ready for the real action coming up after the bye.
Against all odds, the Washington Football Team has made it into the playoffs as the #4 seed by beating the Philadelphia Eagles 20-14 and must now face the #5 seed Tampa Bay Buccaneers led by Tom Brady. Washington will be 8-point underdogs in that playoff game.
The Brady Bunch did a 44-27 beat-down of the Atlanta Falcons in Week 17, with Brady throwing for 399 yards and 4 touchdowns. So, the Bucs quarterback at least is honed and ready to go into the playoffs. Let’s see if the rest of the Tampa Bay team can keep up.
The #3 seed Seahawks will host the #6 seed Rams for the third time this season as 4.5-point favorites with Jared Goff still questionable for the game.
The Saints Host The Bears
Since the Packers beat the Bears, the Saints just maintain the status quo by beating down Teddy Bridgewater and the Carolina Panthers by a final score of 33-7 without the services of most of their running backs, including Alvin Kamara who was out with COVID-19 protocol. Third string running back Ty Montgomery racked up 107 yards rushing which must look pretty encouraging to Saints fans.
The #7 seed Chicago Bears get in because the Arizona Cardinals lost, and will travel down to the Big Easy to face the #2 seed New Orleans Saints as 9.5-point underdogs, the biggest spread of the playoffs so far.
The Green Bay Packers beat the Bears 35-16 and end up as the #1 seed in the NFC and will get that much coveted bye week to heal up before facing the competition the next week brings.
So there will be no easy games on Wild Card Weekend in the NFL. No double digit spreads, no obvious winners. Look forward to another great weekend of exciting NFL action.