• ‘The Second Season’: Pigskin Pundit’s Picks: Divisional Playoffs 2021

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    Surge Summary: Moving on from Wildcard Weekend to Divisional Playoffs Weekend, the NFL serves up what should be four more contests. Below, Pigskin Pundit’s selections for winners and losers – some of them tougher to call than others.

    What a weekend of football!  Four tight, exciting games sandwiched around two kinda ho-hummers, but we learned a lot.  I’m not ready to inaugurate Taylor Heinike as Washington’s new QB after one very good performance (seen this movie before), but if he has MORE of that in him than one clutch performance, Rivera has his man.  Heinike was gutsy, energetic and elusive, and he picked apart Tampa’s secondary for much of the game, hitting such household names as McLaurin and Sims (tongue in cheek) for medium and long pinpoint gainers when they needed them.  He ripped off countless runs for first downs and avoided sacks against what was supposed to be a good defense, keeping his 6-10 team in the game right to the end.  WFT’s defense delivered, but I don’t think any of us expected to see that much offense from this team.  For Tampa, Brady looked as good as he ever has, sliding in the pocket well to avoid those killer rushers on Football Team, and his throws were money, period.  I was screaming at Chris Godwin, who played like crap, dropping tons of pinpoint passes from the GOAT.  Maybe he’s not used to the damn ball hitting him in the hands every time, but he better get there.  This team needs pass catchers against the next team they face…and they had better play defense next time as well, or they’ll be watching the ‘Tiger’ special while playing alongside Tiger.

    The Steelers went the way of the dinosaurs against the Orange Excitement that is Cleveland, probably because there are too many dinosaurs on the Pittsburgh roster.  The Steelers gamely battled their way back in after spotting the Brownies a big jump, but too little too late for an offense too weak.  We’ll leave the noble warriors to their rest.  The Seahawks were unable to overcome their season-long lack of defense, period.  Pete Carroll knows what he has to do this offseason.  The Bills took care of business, barely, as Indy made a strong case for themselves.  No shame there, both teams played a very clean game.  The Saints did exactly what we knew they would against Chicago.  Tennessee fell to their own weakness of defense again, and you are what your record says you are, to quote Bill Parcells.  I knew that game would hinge on the Titans finding an extra gear on defense, which they never found.

    A note about Bobby Saleh…Dude, you took the WRONG head coaching job!  Shoulda held out for the Chargers job.  You would have THAT team in the playoffs next season.  The Jets are dysfunctional at the ownership level, so there’s no way in H-E-double-hockey-sticks they are going to get their act together at the team level.  They have their bow so far up their stern that they don’t know which way is fore and which is aft.  Pull a Belichick and resign immediately.  It’s THEM that needs a psych eval.  Now you will, too.

    I finished 3-3 for Wild Card Week.  Playoffs really is the second season, judging by the way a lot of teams play.  Here we go for the Divisionals.

    Rams at Packers – You can say what you like about the way LA overcame Seattle by stifling that offense.  It’s not hard to do when that’s all the other guys have. We all know the dictum about Defense winning championships, and the Scrams have it in spades with Donald, Rams-ey and Floyd the Barber giving out QB haricuts.  However, this Packer team has a superb running game to go with a superb passing game, and Aaron Donald will find that Aaron Jones keeps him back in coverage more, which will create problems for the Slams when they want to blitz.  The other Aaron in this game is not an easy out either, highly mobile and able to throw darts on the fly.  So, one if by land and two if by air, but Green Bay won’t let LA keep them from there.  Aaron Jones on the ground, and Aaron airin’ it out to Davonte Adams, Valdez-Scantling and a ton to Tonyan, and you can Pack it in if you wear Blue & Gold.  22nd in PPG (Rams) vs. 1st overall.  The math says the Pack smacks LA back to reality.

    Ravens at Bills – This is the most fascinating game of the weekend, and I think hardest to call.  We know about Defense and championships, and that edge goes to Baltimore, who earned high marks stopping other teams this season.  Buffalo has a good defense, but not a great defense, so they need to pound the scoreboard every game.  The good news is they can do exactly that.  Their passing game is top-rate, especially with the emergence of rookie Gabe Davis added to the Diggs-Beasley double threat, and their long-strike capability can change a game in seconds.  The biggest challenge for Baltimore will be stopping Allen from galloping deep into their linebacker territory, which no team has done successfully this season.  He’s fast, huge and shifty when he runs, and for a team that doesn’t depend heavily on a ground game, he adds a dimension that really complicates things for opposing defenses, helping nullify Baltimore’s blitz-happy game plan.  RPO is a big strength for McDermott’s offense.  It boils down to whether Action Jackson can pass accurately when he’s not off running or shoveling the rock to Gus the Bus or Yard-Robbin’ Dobbins.  If his arm is 2/3 as good as his legs Saturday night, Buffalo will find it very hard to keep a lid on things.  So who wins this nailbiter?  My heart is with Buffalo, and they certainly can win….but my head says the Ravens will keep it on the ground, own the clock, and eventually own the Bills.  Baltimore buffaloes Buffalo.

    Browns at Chiefs – This is where the magic season for Cleveland ends.  ‘The bus stops here’, as fellow Missourian Harry Truman used to say.  Give Stefanski credit for getting more out of this roster than any of his predecessors, and about time, too.  Cleveland’s talent has developed nicely this season, and the absence of OBJ will loom larger in this game than at any time during the Covid year.  Kansas City is Kansas City, loaded with talent, experienced, focused and rested, not rusty.  They’re not called the Chiefs for nothing.  Cleveland will score points in this matchup with their superb backfield, but their middle-of-the-pack defense and pass rush will not be sufficient to stop the scoring machine that is the Chiefs…not when they gave up 500 yards to Pittsburgh last week in a win.  The champs put the clamps on Cleveland’s renaissance season.

    Buccaneers at Saints – It’s the Antiques Road Show in the deep South this week!  Brees vs. Brady, it’s like watching a Civil War re-enactment with Ulysses Grant and Robert E. Lee, with plenty of long-range artillery, trench battles and ground charges.  Brady has 40 td’s at age 43, and he still looks every ounce the field general he was in New England, but with a huge array of new weapons.  Watching him last week for me was like watching him the previous 20 years, as his passes were crisp, his reads were on point, and his calm but fierce demeanor was a driving force in that game.  He doesn’t look 43, that’s for damn sure.  Across the field is the man whose statistical accomplishments have fueled Brady’s drive to finish as the best-ever in every category, as Brees pushes the passing records along each season with the Saints’ potent offense.  Add to that a bracing defense and you have a Superbowl contender that every NFC team has to vanquish before they can get there.  Whodat nation is top-5 in passing defense stats, and even more stingy on the ground pounders.  Their soft spot is Red Zone D, and this will be exploited by the Bucs.  Tompa also sports the best rush D, so the Camaro will have to earn his real estate the hard way.  With a season sweep against Tampa under their belts, the tide seems to be running New Orleans’ way.  So is the money, probably.  So is my opinion.  Great game, but look for fleurs de lit to be waving in victory when the cannons are quiet.

    Enjoy the games!

    -PP (Nate Clark)

    The views here are those of the author and not necessarily Daily Surge

    Image of 3D Animation Production Company on Pixabay.

    Nathan Clark is a conservative commentator who resides with his wife in New Hampshire. He is passionate about preserving the vision of our nation’s Founders and advancing those tried and true principles deep into America’s future. His interests range broadly from flyfishing, cooking and shooting to pro sports, gardening, live music and fine-scale modeling.

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