The 2021 regular season is over. The Lions are full rebuild but improving with 3 late wins. The Packers got the number 1 seed with another 13 win campaign led by MVP Aaron Rodgers final year in Green Bay. The Bears and Vikings went 7-10 and 8-9 and missed the playoffs firing both GMs and Head Coaches. What a ride. Playoffs are going to be super interesting so let’s take a look at the wild card matchups while the Packers R-E-L-A-X with a bye.
This will be part 1 because I got tired. The AFC games
Raiders at Bengals 430 Saturday ET
The Bengals look to end the streak of most years without a playoff win (which would make Detroit the new team). Joe Burrow has been amazing in year 2 with a 108.3 rating (2nd only to Rodgers 111.9). JMar Chase is everything they could have dreamed 1,455 yards and 13 TDS. 2021 2nd round pick Tee Higgins also had 1,091 yards and 6 TDs. Tyler Boyd 828 yards and 5 TDs is no slouch either. The Bengals offense is very good despite the obvious OLine issues (55 sacks allowed). Joe Mixon is solid and the Bengals have 4 YPC on the year.
The Raiders fired Jon Gruden (I hate that guy) in the middle of the year and went on a tear become the first interim coach to make the playoffs since like the 1960s. Derek Carr is solid with 94 QB rating but has improved lately. Hunter Renfrow had 1,093 yards and 9 TDs and Darren Waller is a stud TE returning from a late season injury. Bryan Edwards and Zay Jones are big 500 yard WRS too.
This will be an interesting game. Bengals defense is average allowing 22.6 PPG while the Raiders defense is below average. I think Burrow gets them the big win and move on as the 4 seed.
Patriots at Bills 815 Saturday Night ET
The Bills won the AFC East for the second year in a row despite some late season struggles. Josh Allen only had a 92.2 rating (Goff 91.2) but had 36 TDs and 15 ints. Allen can run like the wind at 763 yards and 6 TDs too boasting the Bills rushing game (4.8 YPC). Devin Singletary rebounded his career with 4.6 YPC and 7 TDs too. Stefon Diggs 1,225 yards and 10 TDS will need to be the game changer.
Mac Jones had the best rookie season of the QB class with 92.5 rating 22 TDs and 13 ints. Patriots run the ball well at 4.4 YPC led by Damien Harris (929 yards and 15 TDs). Rhamondre Stevenson 4.6 YPC has success too on 133 carries.
The Bills and Patriots defense are 1 and 2 in defense in the league. So this will be a slugfest. They split the series each winning on the road but the Bills got the East and will host this game in very cold maybe snowy weather. Should be a treat. Can Belichick torment the Bills one more time.
Steelers at Chiefs Sunday Night 815 ET
The Steelers snuck into the playoffs by beating the Browns and Ravens and tying the Lions. Colts somehow lost to the Jaguars and Big Ben’s career continues for at least one more game. That game will be at Arrowhead against Patrick Maholmes
Maholmes was good but had a mid-season lull and just missed the one seed to the Titans. Kansas City boasts a top 10 defense in PPG and the Steelers are below average but have sack record master TJ Watt.
Maholmes had a 98.5 rating with 37 TDs and 13 ints. They run the ball efficiently at 4.5 YPC but will need Edward-Helaire back from injury. Tyreek Hill 1,239 yards and 12 TDs always dominates. Travis Kelce is the best TE ever with another 1,125 yards and 9 TDs. Mecole Hardman had speed with 693 yards and Bryon Pringle added 568 yards and 5 Tds.
Big Ben struggled with a 86.8 rating 22 TDs and 10 ints in his final year. Rookie Najee Harris 1,200 yards and 10 TDs has been good at 3.9 YPC. He is the workhorse with over 300 carries. Dionate Johnson stepped up with 1,161 yards and 8 TDs. Chase Claypool can win the 50/50 balls adding 860 yards and 2 TDs. Rookie Pat Freimurth notched 7 TDs too. The Steelers have some weapons and a defense that can step up but the Chiefs are probably too much ending Big Ben’s career.
Enjoy the AFC matchups. NFC preview coming later if I have time. If not, shove it up your butt