NFL Playoff Preview

The best time of the football season is upon us. January is a special time in the NFL. The expanded playoff format doesn’t seem to be doing any better. Let’s review the 14 teams vying for this year’s Lombardi trophy.

Miami Dolphins
Since its inception, the 7th seed has only served to be the slot for a mediocre squad to make it in and get curb stomped by a real team upset over losing their first-round bye. This year, the Dolphins are the NFL’s honorary whipping boy. Injuries have ravaged this team, like the Potato Blight on Ireland, and they get no favors as they are running into a steaming hot Bills team looking for the next sacrificial lamb to beat up on. Knowing the Dolphins, they will probably load Tua Tagovailoa up on enough painkillers to knock out an elephant, only for Matt Milano to give him his fifth concussion of the year. If Skylar Thompson is their starter, lord have mercy on their souls.

Baltimore Ravens
Much like last year, this team is a morgue of injuries again. Unfortunately, they had a cakewalk schedule to close out the year this time, meaning Baltimore managed to sneak in with a 10-7 record. The biggest question with this team is Lamar. The Ravens have a chance if he’s healthy and ready to go. If not, just like everything Poe loved, the team would get Tuberculosis and die again.

Los Angeles Chargers
I expected this team to straddle .500 like a mechanical bull, but LA surprised us all by going on a winning streak to end the year to make the playoffs with a 10-7 record. Sure, that winning streak may have been against terrible teams or teams that self-destructed. Yes, they lost to the Broncos. Yes, their defense is still injured and unreliable. The fact that the Chargers even made it should be a cause for celebration, but I can’t root for them. Any success from them this year will only be further justification for ownership’s laziness in keeping Brandon Staley around. Sorry, he doesn’t wow me.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Like I said in the Week 18 Recap, the Jags are an exciting team going into January. Sure, they have their flaws, but they mask them with good situational football and by playing as a team. This team competed in one of the first tank bowls I did, and now they’re competing for Lombardi. This year might not be their year, but it’ll be a learning experience for Lawrence and that young defense. Beating the Chargers could be a start. No one will blame them if they get whooped by Kansas City afterward.

Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals did considerably better than I thought they would this year. I figured the hangover from losing in the Super Bowl would hurt them. To be fair, it did, but then the team woke up and began rattling off wins. They’ve won 8 straight going into the playoffs and are an exciting team to watch. For my sake, though, I hope they lose in the first round. I’m scared of them.

Buffalo Bills
With all of the things that Buffalo went through this season, no one would blame them if they didn’t make it to the Super Bowl this year. Unfortunately, this is where my condolences end. This is easily the most complete team the Bills have fielded in a very long time. The offense needs no explanation. Josh Allen slinging the ball to much success, with Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis wreaking havoc in opposing secondaries. Their running game has finally come alive for a somewhat underrated two-headed attack led by Devin Singletary and budding star James Cook. The Bills’ time to win is now. In two years, they’ll have to pay everyone. Micah Hyde might be back, too. It’s also only a matter of time until the fanbase grows restless from repeated failure in the playoffs. The time is now for them to get the monkey off their backs. A deep run is expected out of them, at minimum.

Kansas City Chiefs
Hooray, yet another year where the Chiefs are kings of the AFC, said no one outside of Missouri. I had the Chiefs winning that division again this year, but I didn’t think it would be as much of a blowout. I figured they would take a step back after losing Tyreek Hill. I was unfortunately proven wrong. Kansas City is imitating a certain Evil Empire of years past by filling the missing slots with decent roleplayers to help Mahomes thrive. The defense, though, is a concern. It has been between wet plywood and seaweed for most of the year. Unless the offense is otherworldly this postseason, they will look much more mortal than in years past. When they do fall, and it’s not if, it’s when, since nothing lasts forever, 15 conference rivals will be dancing on their graves. Please happen soon.

Seattle Seahawks
You probably think I’m going to throw the book at this team for straddling mediocrity like a mechanical bull, but I respect the Seahawks. They’ve surpassed the preseason expectations and then some just by getting here. Geno Smith is finally in a system that suits him, and he’s developed into a serviceable quarterback who has quickly become a fan favorite in the Emerald City. That defense is also pretty stout, too. These guys are playing with more house money than anyone else in the tournament this year, and they will pick in the top 5 thanks to Denver’s desperation to get a quarterback. Even then, they’ve limped into the postseason and only got in because Green Bay self-destructed. Enjoy being cannon fodder for the Niners in Santa Clara.

New York Giants
The Giants are evidence of what good coaching can do to a team. Brian Daboll is the NFL’s equivalent of Ted Lasso – if Ted Lasso was coaching a sport he knew something about. The dude seems like he could motivate a snail to run like Usain Bolt, and he has the G-Men playing as a proper unit and thriving in the chaos. Word of advice: try not to be too reliant on Daniel Jones this time. The last time a Daboll QB made his postseason debut was… well, the lateral. Bills fans do not speak of that game.

Dallas Cowboys
To the chagrin of everyone else in the league, the Cowboys are in the playoffs. Not only are they the Cowboys and just hated by default, but Dallas has limped into the postseason, laying some massive eggs against teams like… the Commies. The Cowboys must not go to Tampa Bay and defeat Brady. I don’t know who to root for in this match. Regardless of the outcome, America as a whole loses. We either have to deal with the Cowboys winning a playoff game and robbing us of glorious memes or Tom Brady. God help us all, and speaking of which…

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There’s a feeling in the air. It’s eerie, but it’s hilarious at the same time. You don’t belong here. Why didn’t we revoke the NFC South’s playoff spot and give it to a team like Detroit or Green Bay? Enough complaining from me, though, this team has one job, and it’s to bring joy to us all by humiliating Dallas again. And then getting their butts whopped by Philly or the Niners in the second round.

Minnesota Vikings
I don’t want to hear the “oh, we’re 13-4” nonsense. This team’s record is inflated. Their wins have come against some of the worst teams in the league. When they win, they do it unconvincingly at the last minute, with a combination of ridiculous luck and Greg Joseph freeing himself from the shackles of Zimmer and turning into one of the most clutch kickers in the league. Minnesota has a tall task in facing the Giants. They will win on the final play or get blown out of the water. There is no middle ground here.

San Francisco Giants
In my opinion, this is the scariest team in the league going into this postseason. San Fran has such a sound system that they could put James Corden in at fullback, and he’d still rush for 100 yards in a game. Their defense is stacked. All 11 guys on the field are insanely clever, buy into their coaches’ scheming, and also happen to run like cheetahs. That defense is the backbone of anything the Niners do this year. They’re the consensus pick to make it out of the NFC this year, but with a rookie quarterback, you never know what could transpire.

Philadelphia Eagles
Behold, everyone, the supposed class of the NFC… according to everyone within Philadelphia city limits. The Eagles started the year strong but have struggled immensely to end the year. They started 13-1, only to lose 3 of 4. Fortunately, they had enough cushion to barely hang onto the #1 seed and get a much-needed bye week for Hurts to nurse his banged-up shoulder. These guys might be dead men walking after these past few weeks, but you have to remember that the last time the Eagles were the one seed, their season played out the same way, and they ended up winning the Super Bowl with a backup quarterback. Gotta keep all options open, especially with Sirianni.

I will try something a little different, and I will predict the wild card round in this segment in addition to my super bowl matchup prediction. This is mainly because I’m tired of having to eat crow, and this weekend is so lopsided that there are only one or two picks that I could get wrong. I’m picking the Niners, Buffalo, and Cincy from the more prominent games to go through. Now for the toss-ups. My picks for the closer games are the Jags edging out the Chargers, the Giants finding a way to beat Minnesota, and the Cowboys getting humiliated on Monday Night by the Buccaneers.

For my Super Bowl matchup, you probably know where this is going. Bills vs. 49ers in a fight to the death. The high–powered offense against the high-powered defense in San Fran’s second home in Arizona. If you’re reading this, Justin, I want a full written apology for ballyhooing about the Niners so much if my prediction turns out to be wrong on the NFC side. Cheers.


Story Archive

The Mirror was established in 1927
© 2015-2022 by the Staff of The Mirror
The Mirror's Policy Manual and Style Guide.
The Mirror is funded by gifts to the Northwood Fund. Thank you.

%d bloggers like this: