Dope Divisional NFL Game Thread

Ale Xander

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Saturday, January 16:
Los Angeles Rams @ Green Bay Packers, 4:35, FOX
Baltimore Ravens @ Buffalo Bills, 8:15, NBC

Sunday, January 17:
Cleveland Browns @ Kansas City Chiefs, 3:05, CBS
Tompa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints, 6:40, FOX


Injury report:
 

BaseballJones

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I think these are four terrific games. The Rams D needs to show up and Goff needs to play well but that could be a good game. Jalen Ramsey defending Davante Adams will be a treat.

Buff-Balt should be awesome. And while I think KC wins, it should be fun to see what Cleveland can do there. And then the big question is whether or not Brady can beat Brees and NO. The Saints have owned the Bucs this year. It’s a bad matchup for Tampa for some reason so let’s see if Brady can overcome it.
 

Seels

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You'd have to think if Brady can win this week, he's favored to win the whole thing.

The Packers keep getting the easiest possible path year in and year out. They also keep fucking it up.
 

rodderick

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You'd have to think if Brady can win this week, he's favored to win the whole thing.

The Packers keep getting the easiest possible path year in and year out. They also keep fucking it up.
If Donald can play at 85% I really think that defense can give Rodgers fits. Either way, if Tampa gets past New Orleans (which I really doubt they will), they'll either face the Rams at home or go to Lambeau to face a Packers team they've already curbstomped once this season. I don't think they'd be favored, but it does feel like next week is the hardest test for the Bucs.
 

BigSoxFan

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Rams D is legit so I expect them to hang with GB for a bit but not sure how they'll do much scoring with Cupp at much less than 100%. Akers will need to have a big game again and they'll need to turn Rodgers over a couple times. The Rams are really tough to run against (3rd best in Y/A) so if they can force a lot of 3rd and longs, they might have a shot. Ultimately, I think Rodgers does enough to get the W.

Saints/Buccaneers will be fascinating. The Saints have completed dominated the Bucs this year but the Bucs' offense seems to be peaking at the right time now that AB looks like old AB. It all depends on pressure. In the last game, Brady was harassed all game long. If that continues, I expect the Saints to beat these guys yet again. If that doesn't continue, I think Brady outscores Brees. Gun to my head, I'm going with Tampa in a tight one.

Bills/Ravens will be a fun one. Both teams are playing very well and feature dual threat QBs. I think this one comes down to key turnovers. My concern for Buffalo is that they can't really run the ball so it's all going to fall on Allen. Ultimately, I can't pick the Ravens to win so going with Bills by a FG.

Finally, Chiefs/Browns should be fun. Lots of interesting storylines, especially Hunt coming back to KC. But I think the spread is about right. Cleveland won't be able to stop KC and their defense will force some Baker turnovers. Chiefs by 10+.

Conference Championship:

Buccaneers @ Packers
Bills @ Chiefs
 

BaseballJones

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Rams D is legit so I expect them to hang with GB for a bit but not sure how they'll do much scoring with Cupp at much less than 100%. Akers will need to have a big game again and they'll need to turn Rodgers over a couple times. The Rams are really tough to run against (3rd best in Y/A) so if they can force a lot of 3rd and longs, they might have a shot. Ultimately, I think Rodgers does enough to get the W.

Saints/Buccaneers will be fascinating. The Saints have completed dominated the Bucs this year but the Bucs' offense seems to be peaking at the right time now that AB looks like old AB. It all depends on pressure. In the last game, Brady was harassed all game long. If that continues, I expect the Saints to beat these guys yet again. If that doesn't continue, I think Brady outscores Brees. Gun to my head, I'm going with Tampa in a tight one.

Bills/Ravens will be a fun one. Both teams are playing very well and feature dual threat QBs. I think this one comes down to key turnovers. My concern for Buffalo is that they can't really run the ball so it's all going to fall on Allen. Ultimately, I can't pick the Ravens to win so going with Bills by a FG.

Finally, Chiefs/Browns should be fun. Lots of interesting storylines, especially Hunt coming back to KC. But I think the spread is about right. Cleveland won't be able to stop KC and their defense will force some Baker turnovers. Chiefs by 10+.

Conference Championship:

Buccaneers @ Packers
Bills @ Chiefs
If that happens, those will be two awesome conference championship games. Normally it would be easy to pick GB at home in January against a Florida team, but there's no better bad-weather QB in history than Tom Brady.

Bills-Chiefs could be a completely wild game.
 

BigSoxFan

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If that happens, those will be two awesome conference championship games. Normally it would be easy to pick GB at home in January against a Florida team, but there's no better bad-weather QB in history than Tom Brady.

Bills-Chiefs could be a completely wild game.
Yup. In some years, you have an upset or two that kind of ruins some of the matchups in the following round. We didn't have that this year. The pretenders went home and the real contenders remain. Every remaining team is very good so these will be compelling matchups.

Imagine if the Bills break through and finally make it to the Super Bowl only to see...Tom Brady, the guy who knows their defense like the back of his hand. I feel like all of the best matchups involve Brady making it out of the NFC so I'll be rooting for it. Rodgers going for #2 is probably my backup option. The Saints and Rams can go away although I guess you have the Brees "go out on top" storyline but not really that compelling for me.
 

loshjott

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A win by Seattle would have sent Tampa to Lambeau, correct? I was rooting for that because I don't think the Bucs will win in New Orleans and Brady vs Rodgers in GB would be delicious to watch.
 

BaseballJones

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It's actually really annoying to see the Rams right now. They are basically what I thought the Pats would be this year in a sense. Great, suffocating defense that keeps them in every game. A really good running game. Excellent special teams. And a QB who can make a key play or two when needed.

The Pats couldn't do it. The Rams are.
 

cornwalls@6

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I think 3rd time is the charm for TB over NO. Brady is operating at an insanely high level. Rams at GB is very intriguing to me, especially if Donald is good to go. Their D is legit, the best one in the tournament, and could give any offense fits right now.
 

Pandemonium67

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The Steelers really screwed things up by losing. Ravens at KC would be a much better matchup and potentially a great game. Playing the Browns is like a second bye week for KC.
 

Stanley Steamer

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It's actually really annoying to see the Rams right now. They are basically what I thought the Pats would be this year in a sense. Great, suffocating defense that keeps them in every game. A really good running game. Excellent special teams. And a QB who can make a key play or two when needed.

The Pats couldn't do it. The Rams are.
The Rams special teams have been pretty shaky this year- turnovers galore on kick returns, inconsistent kicking (until they found Gay), and even Johnny Hekker hasn't been his normal self.
The running game has been variable, but is rounding in to form now.
It is absolutely the D that has gotten them this far, and I'm thrilled they are getting the chance to make a playoff run.
 

BaseballJones

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For everyone who thinks about saying "It's hard to beat a team three times in a season"... I offer this tidbit from cbssports:

Since 1970, a total of 21 teams have gone 2-0 against a divisional opponent in the regular season and then faced them again in the playoffs and those 21 teams went 14-7 in the third game, which means 66.7% of the teams have finished the three-game sweep. Over the past 25 years, that number is 75% (9-3).


In other words, that old saying is 180 degrees off from reality.
 

BaseballJones

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In the "one of these things is not like the others" category, I present to you: the remaining starting QBs in the field...

AFC
Patrick Mahomes, KC: MVP, Super Bowl MVP, 66.3% completion, 4,740 yds, 38 td, 6 int, 108.2 rating
Lamar Jackson, Bal: MVP, 2,757 yds passing, 26 td, 9 int, 99.3 rating, 1,005 yds rushing, 7 td
Josh Allen, Buf: 69.2% completion, 4,544 yds, 37 td, 10 int, 107.2 rating, 421 yds rushing, 8 td
Baker Mayfield, Cle: 3,563 yds, 26 td, 8 int, 95.9 rating, 165 yds rushing, 1 td

NFC
Aaron Rodgers, GB: 2x MVP, Super Bowl MVP, 70.7% completion, 4,299 yds, 48 td, 5 int, 121.5 rating, 149 yds rushing, 3 td
Tom Brady, TB: 3x MVP, 4x Super Bowl MVP, 65.7% completion, 4,633 yds, 40 td, 12 int, 102.2 rating, 3 rushing td
Drew Brees, NO: SB champ, 70.5% completion, 24 td, 6 int, 106.4 rating

And......

Jared Goff, LAR
 

dynomite

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It's actually really annoying to see the Rams right now. They are basically what I thought the Pats would be this year in a sense. Great, suffocating defense that keeps them in every game. A really good running game. Excellent special teams. And a QB who can make a key play or two when needed.

The Pats couldn't do it. The Rams are.
I get you but think there are some key differences (probably saved for another thread, but still):

The Rams are where they are in part because they did have solid QB play in the regular season. Goff doesn’t look like anything special, but he threw for ~4,000 yards, 20 TDs to 13 INTs, and completed 67% of his passes. If the Pats had that, they may have made the playoffs. They also have talented WR & TE who are real weapons and can beat coverage.

And that’s before talking about how the Patriots defense — especially up front — just isn’t in the same conversation as the Rams. Troy Aikman described Aaron Donald as “the best Defensive player I’ve ever seen” last week, and whatever you think about that, he’s certainly one of the most disruptive defensive linemen I can ever remember watching. The Rams defense was suffocating by many measures all season, while the Pats defense looked and played like a unit in transition, with some good games, some bad games, and some rookies/young players clearly playing more than they were ready to.
 
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BaseballJones

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The Saints are the better overall team, but Tampa is rolling, Brady is on fire, and they definitely have a great chance. HFA isn't that big of a deal this year so that helps too.
 

loshjott

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The Saints are the better overall team, but Tampa is rolling, Brady is on fire, and they definitely have a great chance. HFA isn't that big of a deal this year so that helps too.
I was thinking about this recently. What's to keep the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana from modifying their covid restrictions and allowing, say, 40,000 fans into the Super Dome. I mean there'd rightfully be a huge outcry (non football related) and it's not going to happen, but in theory possible? Jerry Jones would absolutely try that in Texas with state/local officials if the Cowboys were playing.
 

Rudy's Curve

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New Orleans laid another egg last week, it was just disguised by the Bears. Bucs have a great chance.
They essentially won 21-3 and were an inch away from 28-3. Sure, the Bears dropped a wide open TD but I'd hardly say the Saints laid an egg. And now they're getting Trey Hendrickson back, whom the Bucs haven't been able to block at all.
 
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They essentially won 21-3 and were an inch away from 28-3. Sure, the Bears dropped a wide open TD but I'd hardly say the Saints laid an egg. And now they're getting Trey Hendrickson back, whom the Bucs haven't been able to block at all.
The Saints-Bears game was essentially a Rorschach Test. If you think the Saints have struggled recent weeks, you'll find plenty of evidence to back you up in terms of their offensive output, and Trubisky made their defensive performance look much better than it would against a normal playoff QB. But if you're high on the Saints more generally, there was plenty to like on both sides of the ball as well.
 

Rudy's Curve

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The Saints-Bears game was essentially a Rorschach Test. If you think the Saints have struggled recent weeks, you'll find plenty of evidence to back you up in terms of their offensive output, and Trubisky made their defensive performance look much better than it would against a normal playoff QB. But if you're high on the Saints more generally, there was plenty to like on both sides of the ball as well.
Yeah, this is where I'm at. They laid an egg against Philly - that was their third straight road game though and maybe Hill had been figured out as a starter. Brees was awful in his return against the Chiefs, but then they destroyed Minnesota (albeit who had nobody on defense) and Carolina and won comfortably last week. I just don't see them as ripe for the picking.
 

Rudy's Curve

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I really see Cleveland keeping it close with an opportunity to win. Reid's record off byes is incredible but they've got some issues here. They're still pretty banged up despite essentially not playing for two weeks while the Browns are getting two big pieces back in Bitonio and Ward. The Browns probably have the best OL in the league at full strength and are going against a Chiefs defense that was 31st in rush DVOA and allowed 4.5 yards a carry. I also can't help but think of the '11 Packers that took Week 17 off despite having a bye like the Chiefs did and then laid an egg in the playoffs. They're going to need Mahomes to be the great equalizer, which is certainly possible.
 

Cellar-Door

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I really see Cleveland keeping it close with an opportunity to win. Reid's record off byes is incredible but they've got some issues here. They're still pretty banged up despite essentially not playing for two weeks while the Browns are getting two big pieces back in Bitonio and Ward. The Browns probably have the best OL in the league at full strength and are going against a Chiefs defense that was 31st in rush DVOA and allowed 4.5 yards a carry. I also can't help but think of the '11 Packers that took Week 17 off despite having a bye like the Chiefs did and then laid an egg in the playoffs. They're going to need Mahomes to be the great equalizer, which is certainly possible.
I like the Browns, but Mahomes is a lot better than Big Ben and that pass D looked porous.
 

Rudy's Curve

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I like the Browns, but Mahomes is a lot better than Big Ben and that pass D looked porous.
There's obviously no argument on the former, but it's not like Ben torched them. He only averaged 7.4 yards per attempt, threw four interceptions and this was all while the Browns were willing to trade points for clock since they had a huge lead. They're also getting a very good corner in Denzel Ward back this week. If Mahomes goes into god mode it's all irrelevant, but I think they've got a good chance.
 

Harry Hooper

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No snow in GB this weekend, so I'll pick the Rams. Chalk elsewhere unless Stefanski "respects the streak" and stays home.
 

wiffleballhero

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In the simulacrum
The Browns probably have the best OL in the league at full strength and are going against a Chiefs defense that was 31st in rush DVOA and allowed 4.5 yards a carry.
I think any non-silly version of the Browns winning goes through this imbalance and then the concomitant sense that the Browns have a chance to simply reduce the total number of drives in the game and give themselves a puncher's chance. I hope so.

Although I've long come around to Belichick's sense that you don't build your franchise around a RB, Nick Chubb is a force and he and Hunt could really make this game a mess for KC.
 

BaseballJones

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Baker vs. Mahomes. I was just looking at the box score from their 2016 college matchup. Absolutely bonkers.

Score: Oklahoma 66, Texas Tech 59

Mayfield: 27-36 (75.0%), 545 yds, 15.1 y/a, 7 (!) td
Mahomes: 52-88 (59.1%), 734 (!) yds, 8.3 y/a, 5 td, 1 int, 85 rush yds, 2 td

I don't remember that game at all, but I mean....what the hell happened there that day? These numbers are just utterly nonsensical.

Would be fun to see something kinda sorta like this this weekend.
 

Marbleheader

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Baker vs. Mahomes. I was just looking at the box score from their 2016 college matchup. Absolutely bonkers.

Score: Oklahoma 66, Texas Tech 59

Mayfield: 27-36 (75.0%), 545 yds, 15.1 y/a, 7 (!) td
Mahomes: 52-88 (59.1%), 734 (!) yds, 8.3 y/a, 5 td, 1 int, 85 rush yds, 2 td

I don't remember that game at all, but I mean....what the hell happened there that day? These numbers are just utterly nonsensical.

Would be fun to see something kinda sorta like this this weekend.
View: https://youtu.be/SUKZMKT9dik
 

BaseballJones

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The Ravens had a better point differential and just held the Titans to 13 points. They had a rough stretch in the middle of the year but they're really good.
And I think that Jackson getting his first playoff win was HUGE for him and the team. I can see this team being a real problem for Buffalo.
 

johnmd20

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The Ravens had a better point differential and just held the Titans to 13 points. They had a rough stretch in the middle of the year but they're really good.
Their offense isn't really good. Their offense, in fact, is one dimensional and a weakness.

Against a ridiculously bad Tennessee defense, (like, REALLY bad) they needed an otherworldly Lamar run to win their game. And they scored a mere 20 points. Buffalo is going to win this game, in my opinion. They will be able to get off the field on third down. Tennessee defense is allergic to getting off the field on 3rd down.