Status: 01/13/2022 11:48 a.m.
The playoffs start in the US football league NFL. From Saturday evening (January 15th, 2022) until the night from Monday to Tuesday (German time) it is about moving into the next round. Who is there? Who do you have to pay attention to? Who are the favorites? And how old is Tom Brady now? Everything you need to know.
14 of the 32 teams in the NFL can still hope for the championship. Two of them, namely the Green Bay Packers (NFC) and the Tennessee Titans (AFC), have secured a bye for the first round as the best team in their respective conference. For everyone else, the wildcard games are now on the weekend.
Which team will play against Tom Brady?
The Philadelphia Eagles are the seventh and last out of the NFC to reach the playoffs. This is worth all honors – the 2018 Super Bowl winner was predicted to have a transition season for this season. The fact that the team around the young quarterback Jalen Hurts has even reached the championship finals is a great success. And of course Philadelphia also has a chance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers around Tom Brady, especially since the 2021 playoff champion has to do without Chris Godwin (injured) and Antonio Brown (sacked), and thus two of their best wide receivers.
But the truth is also: In their 17 games this season, the Eagles played exactly six games against other teams that are now in the playoffs. All six were lost. Coach Nick Sirianni has unnerved many opponents with his running game – no NFL team has run for more yards than Philadelphia this season. But against the defending champion it should be difficult: The “Bucs” defense is one of the best defensive formations in the league against the run. And then the Eagles have to stop Tom Brady, who at the age of 44 leads the NFL with 5,316 yards and 43 touchdowns.
Who is the worst outsider?
One could also name the Eagles here, but even less likely is a surprise in the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Kansas City Chiefs. The Steelers somehow sneaked into the playoffs, although their performance left much to be desired in the offensive, and thus gave their quarterback veteran “Big” Ben Roethlisberger a career extension. It is certain that the now 39-year-old will end his career after this season. Roethlisberger is far from previous performances and thus limits the Steelers’ attacking game enormously. Only once this season did Pittsburgh score more than 30 points.
Opponents Kansas City succeeded in the latter nine times – even though Patrick Mahomes and Co. had come sluggishly into this season before they picked up speed. At 36:10 on Boxing Day, the Chiefs didn’t give Pittsburgh a chance, because the defense has now found its way into the season better. If Pittsburgh could even narrow this game – it would be a big surprise. “Big Ben” also sees it this way: “Out of 14 teams we are probably number 14. We have no chance. So let’s just go in and have fun.”
Which is the “top game”?
Apart from “Chiefs vs. Steelers” and “Buccaneers vs. Eagles” all other games are pretty open. The clash between the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers would definitely deserve this title. With their quarterback Dak Prescott in good health at last, the cowboys are capable of offensive fireworks this year and with their very aggressive defense around rookie Micah Parsons have already pulled the teeth of a few opponents. With coach Kyle Shanahan and their very variable running game, the 49ers are an opponent who must first be defeated.
In addition, the division duel between the NFC West teams from Arizona and Los Angeles has possibly the greatest appeal:
The Arizona Cardinals looked like a real contender for the title in the first half of the season, but after seven wins at the start of the series they showed very fluctuating performances. The performance of the Los Angeles Rams also fluctuated over the entire season, and they added expensively to their squad before (with quarterback Matthew Stafford) and during the season (with Pass Rush specialist and ex-Super Bowl MVP Von Miller), to finally get the championship. In the direct duel, however, one of the two will have to give up and be annoyed afterwards that he did not exhaust his potential more consistently in the regular season in order to prevent this duel in the first playoff round. The slight favorite here are probably the Rams.
The New England Patriots are back after a year of playoff abstinence. Rookie quarterback Mac Jones has had a season that not many would have expected him to be. Together with head coach mastermind Bill Belichick, the uncomfortable Patriots Defense and a grueling running game, New England is extremely uncomfortable for every opponent. Even if the offense has not acted as consistently recently. The first round is against the Buffalo Bills – they’re in pretty good shape right now and have the home advantage on their side.
Spectacular, more spectacular, Cincinnati Bengals! Quarterback Joe Burrow has four highly talented pass receivers in his three receivers Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd and running back Joe Mixon who have proven that they can hurt opponents extremely. Mainly thanks to this offensive, Cincinnati is back in the playoffs for the first time in six years and now finally wants to celebrate their first victory in the finals since 1991. The odds are not bad against the Las Vegas Raiders, even if Maxx Crosby is one of the most successful quarterback hunters of the season.