So it’s official: The Minnesota Vikings will not participate in the 2020 NFL Playoffs. It’s a bummer, but to most logical Vikings fans, it was frankly inevitable with the current state of the defensive unit. So now this weekend we have 6 fantastic games to watch with no real rooting interest (unless you’re part of 10k Bets). It’s always fun to pick a squad opening weekend to cheer on, maybe even buy-in on some friendly betting with that roommate that’s high on the Colts. Here’s a rundown of the 14 teams that are making the run for this year’s Lombardi Trophy.
Kansas City ChiefsWe’ll start at the top, and who better to begin with than the defending Super Bowl champions. The Chiefs are every bit as scary as they were last year when they won it all. And they might be even better a year later thanks to their upgrades at running back in Le’veon Bell and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. We all know about Patrick Mahomes and that insane offense. The question now is: can someone put up enough points on them AND contain the former MVP enough to sneak by? It’s going to be very tough, especially with the
Green Bay Packers
Last year I said to anybody that would listen that the Packers were the worst fucking 13-3 team in NFL history. They must have heard me because this year they look like the cream on the crop in the NFC. I hate even typing all this out and giving them praise, but you have to give credit where credit is due. The run that both Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams have been on this year is truly incredible when they’re not tearing us up like Week 1. The same worry for them is the same worry I have for the Chiefs: can their defense hold up to a big offensive effort? It’s gonna be a long 2 weeks and maybe more if the Pack make a run to Tampa.
Buffalo BillsTime to circle the wagons, Bills Mafia! The Buffalo Bills won the AFC East this year for the first time since 1995. So basically I have never seen the Bills win the division….ever. Buffalo was very legit last year, but all thanks to our ol’ boy Stefon Diggs, the Bills look super hot right now and look to do some serious damage. They have the passing game and the defense to get them all the way, but whether Devin Singletary will be able to help out in the run game enough for them to get balance remains to be seen. The best teams in January are able to do both, so here’s hoping the Bills have enough in the tank to take down Kansas City.
New Orleans Saints
The Aint’s are back at it once again, trying to help Old Man Brees get a 2nd ring and a Hollywood ending to a HOF career. Word is both Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara will be active for Sunday’s game. The offense has looked good, but not great. Defensively they can stop you but they’re not the most fearsome unit out there. Honestly, if they were playing anybody but the Bears this weekend, they’d be in some trouble. But an offense like theirs should do just fine against Chicago. Ultimately they will go as far as the arm of a 42-year-old QB can take them.
Pittsburgh SteelersPittsburgh stumbles into this year’s postseason after missing last year due to no Big Ben. Now the Steelers, who looked like every bit of a Super Bowl contender at the midseason mark found themselves back into the playoffs, thanks to a nonexistent run game. One reason to believe in this team? The defense. They all say defense wins championships, and if that’s still true the black and gold have the best one in the league by a decent margin. However they have proven to be beatable, so it will have to be on the offense to really send them over the top.
If you would have asked me Week 4 who has a good chance to win it all, I probably would have said Seattle. The run that Russell Wilson was on in the first 6 weeks of the season was something we had never seen. Now, Russ has fallen back to Earth and out of the MVP conversation, but this Seahawks team is still something dangerous and will for sure be a tough out. The addition of Jamaal Adams has made a huge difference and defensively they’ve been borderline elite since he returned from injury. Can they put it all together and be the team we saw in September?
The Titans are back in this year’s big dance. Last year we saw them make a big splash in the playoffs while riding the back of King Derrick Henry. It looks like this year will be more of the same with Mr. 2k leading the charge. But don’t be fooled; this passing game can light it up too. Ryan Tannehill’s numbers have been off the charts since he became the starter last year. I would love to see them claim the AFC this time around, but I’m skeptical if they can stop the other high-powered offenses around them.
Washington Football Team
Every year there’s always some team with quite a story that ends up being one of the lucky ones to make the playoffs. This year that title belongs to the Washington Football Team. The winners of this year’s Toys “R” Us NFC East Bankruptcy Bowl get the lucky opportunity to host Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in front of no one at their home digs. But the future DROY made it very clear after winning on Sunday that he was ready to see the GOAT. The best story of all comes from the incredible return of Alex Smith after his almost career-ending injury. Now it will be on him and the mediocre offense to help take down the Bucs. One thing to note: Washington is 4-1 when Alex Smith starts.
Baltimore RavensThe Ravens have seen a lot of shit happen to them this year. They went from preseason darlings to having basically half their team gone due to COVID-19, and now look to be on the brink of a potential Super Bowl run. The mental toughness of that squad led by Coach John Harbaugh is more rock-solid than a Nokia phone. Lamar heard what everyone said about him in the offseason, and now he’s looking to make everyone pay against the team that bounced them last year. That Ravens-Titans game is going to be a damn barnburner.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This weekend the Buccaneers will be making their first appearance back in the postseason since 2006. And it’s all thanks to the GOAT, Tom Brady. Well, I guess he’s not solely the reason why they’re good now, as they come into the playoffs boasting Top 10 defense as well. I like this Bucs squad! They have a lot of weapons that can do damage at any point in time, from Evans & Gronk to our boy Tyler Johnson, this is a team I wouldn’t wanna see right now. Will Father Time hold up for Tom Brady?
The drought is finally over! The Browns have returned to the playoffs for the 1st time in 18 years. Former Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski has made quite the splash in Year 1 with his new squad. The deadly duo of Nick Chubb & Kareem Hunt has proven to be quite the 1-2 punch, and Myles Garrett has wrecked opposing offenses all year long since his debacle last year with the uh, helmet situation. I would pick the Browns this weekend but I won’t. Considering their opponent is the Pittsburgh Steelers and half their coaching staff has COVID-19, it’s not looking too promising for Cleveland. But anything is possible in January.
Los Angeles Rams
This year’s Rams team is a bit of a mystery. They put up a 10-6 record this season and look solid on both sides of the ball. But they also have some questionable losses on their resume, including being swept by the IR-ridden Niners and giving the Jets their first W of the season a few weeks ago. Now, Jared Goff’s status for this weekend is up in the air after dislocating his thumb. They were able to squeak by last week against the Cardinals and their backup, but I don’t know if they will be lucky enough to do it again versus the Seahawks. If they can lean on the run and rookie Cam Akers, LA might be back in business again.
They say 7 is a lucky number, so if you’re a Colts fan right now you’re feeling VERY lucky right now (the horseshoe too, duh) with the way your favorite team has been playing. This year’s fantasy football darling Johnathan Taylor has led quite the charge, putting up a whopping 241 last week to help bring home the playoff birth for Indy. Don’t sleep on this defense too, lots of playmakers on all levels and probably the most underrated player in the league in Darius Leonard. Can the Colts help bring it home for Phillip Rivers in his potential final year?
Last but not least we have the Chicago Bears. Basically, this team was a walking dumpster fire at the midseason mark. This team did not win a game for almost 2 calendar months, but yet here they are getting ready for a battle with the Saints. I would say they stand no chance, but crazier things have happened. Mitchell Trubisky has started to quiet the haters a little bit, and David Montgomery was a huge X-Factor down the stretch, putting up 100-yard games in all of the wins since that losing streak. The defense that looks so unbeatable 2 years ago when they made it in will have to show up in a big way in order to move on.
So sit back this weekend and enjoy the chaos, I know I will certainly be posted in my retro recliner having a blast watching it all unfold. And if you’re sad about no Vikings football for 9 months, just re-watch the clip of the Wildcard win from last season. Cheers, y’all.
Professional Driver. Betting and Fantasy sports junkie. I once cut meat for Paul Allen AND Mark Rosen. I talk on a podcast about men hugging each other aggressively.