We will have the rare opportunity to see a championship game that includes the implication of the proverbial passing of the GOAT title if Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are able to defeat Tom Brady's Buccaneers in Tampa.
Not only would this make Kansas City back-to-back Lombardi Trophy winners, but it would mean that Mahomes was able to knock off the greatest to ever do it at the quarterback position on arguably the most talented team he's ever been a part of (sorry New England, but you should've treated your man better). Mahomes, who signed the largest contract in sports history following Kansas City's championship win last year, had plenty of expectations to live up to. He has delivered in a big way on their path to repeat as world champs this season.
Patrick Mahomes is adding to a STACKED resume ➖ Super Bowl champ ➖ Super Bowl MVP ➖ 2 AFC titles ➖ MVP ➖ 3x Pro Bo… https://t.co/DtwpvmzQqZ— Bleacher Report (@Bleacher Report) 1611548087.0
Mahomes finished inside the top 5 in passing yards (second) and passing touchdowns (fourth) easily even with a few weeks of struggle during the regular reason. The same can be said of the 43 year old Brady as he finished third in passing yards and second in passing touchdowns with 40 on the season nearly matching his age.
Brady who is in his 20th NFL season now has been around long enough for two generations of football fans to be very familiar with who he is and what he's about, and that can be summed up in one word which is winning. He is the winningest quarterback in the history of the NFL and became the first individual player to win six Super Bowl rings. Now with a chance to add a seventh ring with Tampa Bay, the GOAT knows that he is going to have to make a few plays in this game to beat the Chiefs. The expectation going into this game is that we'll see a shootout, and with these two offenses it's a fair assessment.
Tom Brady is headed back to his 10th Super Bowl 😲 https://t.co/xQTeDQUhvQ— ESPN (@ESPN) 1611530644.0
The Chiefs led the league in average yards per game during the regular season and Tampa Bay ranked third in average points per game with 30.8 and trailing just behind them in sixth place were the Chiefs with an average of 29.6 points per game. On paper these are the two most talented offenses in the league and it's a dream game for NFL fans that want to see touchdowns. But touchdowns aside, the focal point of this matchup is going to be Brady versus Mahomes. As Nate Burleson said immediately following the Chiefs win over Buffalo on Sunday night, it sets up a contest of the GOAT versus the Kid (a term for a baby goat) and believe that we are ALL here for it.
Every generation has their chosen GOAT, but it's never guaranteed to see an event like this we still get to see two players of this caliber squaring off in a championship game. A lot has to fall into place to find ourselves in a situation like this, and after a year like 2020, someone up there must be looking out for us sports fans. Fans will often get into arguments about who would win in a hypothetical matchup all the time. Who would win in a game between Jordan's Bulls and LeBron's Heat teams? Could Tyson knock out Ali? Who wins in a head to head Super Bowl matchup between Brady and Mahomes?
Well we get to find out the answer to one of those timeless questions in two weeks at Super Bowl 55 in Tampa Bay. For Brady he came into this season with the looming question as to whether or not much of his success can be traced back to Bill Belichick during his tenure with the Patriots. It seems like we've written Brady off many times throughout his 20 seasons, and he just continues to get better. At this point it seems fair to call into question whether Brady has some kind of Benjamin Button disease causing him to reverse age.
"Can I say hi to my son?" This Tom Brady interaction 🥰 (via @NFL) https://t.co/0Df7jr702i— ESPN (@ESPN) 1611531168.0
One could argue that due to Brady's advanced age that we aren't seeing Mahomes facing off with the best version of Tom Brady we could've seen, but Brady's stats say otherwise. Furthermore, Brady has passed the eye test all season, rarely showing his age and instead dropping dimes all over the field to his talented receiving core that includes Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown.
Mahomes and the Chiefs will likely enter this game as the favorites to win their second consecutive Super Bowl, but one thing that we've learned about Tom Brady throughout the years is that you can never count out number 12, especially in the playoffs, and especially when the Lombardi is on the line. You only earn the title "GOAT" by ruthlessly dominating the competition year over year and there's never been anyone that has put the pads on that has been a better winner than Tom Brady.
No matter who wins, as fans we will get treated to a spectacular showcase of what the NFL can be. It's not just X's and O's and touchdowns and goal line stands. It's the stories that make sports great. Just like the Madalorian is a western viewed through a Star Wars filter, this is a tale of two gunslingers headed toward the final duel. Two legacies enter, but only one will leave with the the title. That title will no longer just be the GOAT, but BAMF.
Recapping Sunday's NFL Playoff Games
Sunday's NFL Playoff action featured six teams who don't like each other at all.
All these games were played between teams who had played each other at least once during the regular season. If you thought those games in the regular season were intense, Sunday's playoff matchups upped the stakes even more.
The Chicago Bears even replicated a dubious feat from their regular season matchup, as one of their wide receiver Anthony Miller was ejected after throwing a punch at C.J. Gardner-Johnson. The New Orleans cornerback also got into the head of Chicago wide receiver Javon Wims in the November matchup, causing Wims to get ejected in that game after he threw a punch at Gardner-Johnson.
Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar JacksonChristopher Hanewinckel - USA TODAY Sports
(5) Baltimore 20 - (4) Tennessee 13
Game MVP: Lamar Jackson
Early on in this game it looked like the Titans were going to run the Ravens out of the building in Nashville. Tennessee opened up a 10-0 lead in the first quarter after an A.J. Brown touchdown, followed by a Lamar Jackson interception that led to a Stephen Gostkowski field goal. There wouldn't be much more offense in the next three quarters from the Titans, as Baltimore put the clamps down on Derrick Henry, holding the 2,000 yard running back to just 40 yards on 18 carries in the game.
After struggling to get any offense going in the first quarter, Baltimore started to find their rhythm in the second quarter. Not only did Lamar Jackson start to make some throws for the Ravens, but the dynamic quarterback added in some electric runs to keep the Tennessee defense on their heels. Baltimore was able to tie the game up on a 48-yard touchdown run from Jackson with just over two minutes left in the second quarter. The Ravens would take the lead for good early in the third quarter thanks to a four-yard J.K. Dobbins touchdown run.
The most controversial play of the game came early in the fourth quarter when Tennessee head coach Mike Vrabel opted to punt the football on 4th & 2 from the Baltimore 40-yard line instead of letting his team try to pickup the first down. The defense of the Titans was able to keep Baltimore out of the end zone on the ensuing drive, but Tennessee failed in their last shot to tie the game, as Ryan Tannehill was picked off by cornerback Marcus Peters.
Now Jackson and the Ravens hit the road again to take on the Buffalo Bills on Saturday night. With last year's disappointing playoff performance behind him, Jackson will look to upend Josh Allen, who was taken 25 picks before him in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The lights will be shining on two of the bright, young quarterback stars in the NFL on Saturday night.
New Orleans Saints QB Drew BreesBrett Duke - Associated Press
(2) New Orleans 21 - (7) Chicago 9
Game MVP: Drew Brees
The only really interesting thing about this game was the Nickelodeon broadcast. Not only did the kids' channel add some SpongeBob SquarePants to the broadcast, but there was also a "slime zone" that was activated when touchdowns were scored. Unfortunately, only four touchdowns were scored in the game, so the fun animation wasn't used all that much.
New Orleans benefitted from the return of Michael Thomas after the wide receiver missed the previous three games due to injury, and the Saints had a full compliment of running backs after the unit was forced to miss the final game of the regular season due to COVID-19 protocols. Drew Brees wasted little time finding Thomas, with the pair hooking up on New Orleans' first drive of the game for an 11-yard touchdown. Latavius Murray and Alvin Kamara each added touchdowns in the second half to give the Saints a lead that put the game out of reach.
Chicago was listless all game, with Mitchell Trubisky not striking any fear in the New Orleans defense. Prior to the final drive of the game where he passed for 92 yards and a touchdown, Trubisky had only thrown for 107 yards in the game. The Bears couldn't run the ball with David Montgomery, which put even more pressure on Trubisky. Since Chicago couldn't drives together on offense, the defense of the Bears, which was missing leading tackler Roquan Smith, eventually wore down in the second half.
Next up for the Saints is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who New Orleans has already beaten twice this year. While the Saints do have two wins under their belt against Tampa Bay, it is extremely tough to be the same team three times in a season. This could be the last time we see Drew Brees and Tom Brady go head-to-head on the football field, so expect both quarterbacks to leave it all out there on Sunday night.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker MayfieldCharles LeClaire - USA TODAY Sports
(6) Cleveland 48 - (3) Pittsburgh 37
Game MVP: Baker Mayfield
While it probably seems pretty lazy to pick the three quarterbacks who won on Sunday as Game MVPs, if any of the three quarterbacks truly deserved the honor, it is Baker Mayfield. Not only was Mayfield making his playoff start for a franchise that hasn't been to the playoffs in 18 years, the Cleveland quarterback was also doing so while his play-calling head coach was back at home in Cleveland after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. The odds looked to be stacked against Cleveland, as they had just barely gotten by Pittsburgh's backups the week before to earn a playoff spot.
Cleveland's return to the playoffs got off to a dream start, as on the first play after an errant snap from Maurkice Pouncey sailed over Ben Roethlisberger's head, which allowed Karl Joseph to recover the fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. The Browns poured on the points the rest of the third quarter, setting an NFL Playoff record by scoring 28 points in the first quarter. After Mayfield connected with Jarvis Landry for a 40-yard touchdown, Kareem Hunt scored two touchdowns in a three minute span.
Pittsburgh did make Cleveland fans sweat a little bit, cutting the deficit to 35-23 late in the third quarter. While many were wondering if this was going to be a patented Cleveland collapse, the Browns ease the nerves of their fans early in the fourth quarter when Mayfield tossed his third touchdown of the game, finding running back Nick Chubb to push the score to 42-23. Roethlisberger padded his own stats with a couple late touchdowns, finishing the game with 501 yards passing and four touchdowns to go along with four interceptions.
Cleveland will have an even tougher task in front of them this week when they meet the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. The good news is the Browns will have head coach Kevin Stefanski back, and they could see the return of key players Denzel Ward and Joel Bitonio. While the Browns will be a heavy underdog against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, Mayfield and company certainly won't backdown from the challenge of beating the AFC's top team.
Drama Builds as the NFL Is Down to Its Final Four
The Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs has passed, and we're now down to the remaining four teams that are vying for a Super Bowl championship this season.
HOW ‘BOUT THOSE CHIEEEEFS?!?!? https://t.co/rWt2MIdoP2— Kansas City Chiefs (@Kansas City Chiefs) 1610995798.0
The reigning Super Bowl champion, Kansas City Chiefs, squeaked by with a win over the Cleveland Browns 22-17 even though starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes was knocked out for most of the second half with a concussion. The Chiefs backup QB, Chad Henne, was able to scramble for a first down late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory for his squad.
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers took care of the Rams with relative ease 32-18, as Jared Goff seemed limited while still recovering from a broken thumb on his throwing hand. The league's top defense was unable to slow down the Packers dual threat offense as Rodgers threw for nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns, and Aaron Jones ran for 99 yards and a touchdown.
The Bills were able to limit the Ravens rushing attack and ultimately Lamar Jackson's ability to keep the chains moving. The wind played a factor in this game, forcing both teams to miss out on big passing plays and causing missed field goals. The weather certainly forced this game to be a lower scoring affair than we expected, but the result would have been the same. Bills took this one in a defensive battle 17-3.
Bills fans started donating to Lamar Jackson’s favorite charity overnight after he left the AFC divisional game wit… https://t.co/Dd4wVt0a9N— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) 1610902091.0
The Saints were not able to defeat Tom Brady's Buccaneers for the third time this season. Sweeping Tampa in their two regular season meetings, the Saints weren't able to get the passing game going in this one, which isn't something we're used to saying. Adding to their lackluster performance, the rumors of Drew Brees' imminent retirement makes this one even tougher to swallow if you're a fan of the Saints. New Orleans only lost 30-20, but they never really felt in the game.
AFC Conference Championship Game
Sunday 1/24/21 at 6:40 PM EST
(2) Buffalo Bills at (1) Kansas City Chiefs -3
We are exactly where we should be at this point in the AFC, with the top two seeds in the conference fighting for the chance to head to the Super Bowl. This matchup is a tale of two very different organizations however. The Chiefs are the reigning, defending, undisputed Super Bowl champions with a super hero quarterback named Patrick Mahomes and an offense with more weapons than the Green Berets.
Everyone has that friend who always comes in way too hot... 😂 @Micah_Hyde | @Taronj11 https://t.co/N5D0ami2P7— Buffalo Bills (@Buffalo Bills) 1611017220.0
Buffalo is a small market team with a grassroots fanbase that hadn't seen a playoff win since the Clinton administration. Their claim to fame is losing four consecutive Super Bowls during the Jim Kelly era, and most recently they have been a team that's always been just good enough to avoid a top draft pick but never good enough to reach the postseason.
Enter Josh Allen, Brandon Beane, and Sean McDermott. In a few short seasons the Bills have gone from lovable losers to upstart dynasty much in the same vein as Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Allen, like Mahomes, put up numbers that should position him as an MVP front-runner. Allen, unlike Mahomes, had to disprove a lot of doubters that had built up over the beginning of his NFL career.
Get you someone who looks at you the way Josh Allen looks at Stefon Diggs 😊 https://t.co/DzID71IYnD— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) 1610858845.0
Mahomes came out with guns blazing from the start of his career and has never looked back. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that most think if Mahomes continues this level of play throughout his career, he may retire as the best to ever do it. But that's a long way from now, and right now Mahomes has a formidable opponent on his hands.
At this point, there's not telling what can happen. But the prospect of what can happen has us awaiting anxiously for Sunday night. As long as Patrick Mahomes is cleared to play after sustaining a concussion in the Divisional Round game against Cleveland, the Chiefs will feel confident going in to this one.
Josh Allen. Patrick Mahomes. A matchup we have all been waiting for… 👀 “If he flips the table and takes out the Ch… https://t.co/UOKDzBDOUh— NFL Network (@NFL Network) 1611000000.0
For Buffalo this is new and unexplored territory. We saw Josh Allen against the Texans last season fall on his face in his first playoff experience. Sure he's been great all year, and they just knocked off Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, but will the pressure of being one step away from the Super Bowl be too much for this untested group?
Prediction: Buffalo Bills 38 - Kansas City Chiefs 31
NFC Conference Championship Game
Sunday 1/24/2021 at 3:05 PM EST
(5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers at (1) Green Bay Packers -3.5
Over the course of two decades, we have seen a lot of great quarterbacks, but possibly no two better than a couple of guys that wear number 12. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers often feel forgotten about for large portions of their careers because other storylines pulled our attention away from the consistent elite-level of play we have gotten from both of them on an annual basis.
Like anything in our lives that seems so basic and intrinsic to the fabric of life, we take players like Brady and Rodgers for granted because we just expect them to be able to continue throwing 40 touchdowns per season into their 40s (Tom Brady passed for 40 touchdowns in the regular season at the age of 43).
Tom Brady now has more playoff wins than all but five franchises 🤯 https://t.co/4xCxNpOmIM— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) 1610983750.0
The degree of difficulty to maintaining a level of excellence while teammates change, coaches change, systems change, and defenses constantly game plan to shut you down is unbelievably high. No two quarterbacks (in this writer's opinion) have ever done more with less in regard to weapons at their disposal.
If you look at that statement in a vacuum, then it doesn't make sense as both QBs are playing with possibly their most talented respective groups ever this season. But over the course of their careers, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have elevated their teams year after year and made a lot of players, coaches, and front offices look better than they really were (Bill Belichick NOT included).
The best player in the NFL right now.... @AaronRodgers12. https://t.co/FiyDd8N5tk— Stephen A Smith (@Stephen A Smith) 1610999364.0
The Buccaneers struggled with consistency during the regular season. While clearly one of the best teams in the NFC even while enduring some bad play, the Bucs took some bad L's including a 38-3 loss to the Saints in early November. When at their best however Tampa is an offense that can run the ball and play defense, allowing Tom Brady to make plays when necessary and manage the game when required.
The Packers will need to focus on stopping the Buccaneer's running attack. Leonard Fournette has had over 100 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in both of Tampa's playoff games so far, and Ronald Jones (who is recovering from injury) chipped in 62 yards on the ground against the Saints last week. Considering how difficult it is to limit the Buccaneers' passing options, Matt LaFleur's best chance to slowing down this offensive attack is to take away the run.
Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 - Green Bay Packers 24
NFL DFS Preview: Divisional Round
Each Friday, FindBet will preview the week's DFS slate, highlighting players that are priced well on DFS sites, as well as some contrarian plays that can push your team to the top of the leader board.
Most NFL DFS games have you putting a team together with players from a certain slate of games. It could be just Sunday 1:00 PM games, or it could be every game that is slated for the week. Once the last game that has eligible players is over, the final payouts are made according to how many fantasy points each team scored. Each player is worth a certain dollar amount, and you have a cap of $60,000 to build your team with. You have to have 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 FLEX (RB, WR, or TE) and 1 DEF.
The general scoring rules include (6) points for each rushing and receiving touchdown, (4) points for each passing touchdown, (0.1) points for each rushing and receiving yard gained, (0.04) points for each passing yard, and also (0.5) points for each reception. There are other scoring opportunities for defenses. Let's take a look at players we like in the first round of the NFL playoffs this weekend.
Players to Target:
Baker Mayfield (QB) - $7400
The Browns are going to need to have their best offensive game to date. The Chiefs are going to make it a priority to stop Cleveland's run game, which means more opportunities for Baker and the Browns' WRs.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB) - $6100
We've got a lot of investment this week in the Browns-Chiefs game. Edwards-Helaire is at a solid price this week for his projected workload. Even with Le'Veon Bell cutting into his work, he is a good play at this price.
Wondering if Clyde Edwards-Helaire could get more run than we've seen yet vs. the Browns -15, 12, 21 and 15 touche… https://t.co/hAp3DlievP— Ian Hartitz (@Ian Hartitz) 1610648344.0
Nick Chubb (RB) - $8200
Chubb and Hunt had a great against the Steelers last week. The Browns will feed both Chubb and Hunt plenty against the Chiefs in an attempt to keep Patrick Mahomes off the field.
Mike Evans (WR) - $7100
Evans gets another shot to perform this week against a New Orleans defense that can be exploited. Tampa has a great shot to upset New Orleans this week.
Mike Evans' 119 receiving yards is the most ever by a Buccaneer in a playoff game. The previous record was 106 by K… https://t.co/Rr8pI8ClaP— Scott Smith (@Scott Smith) 1610252483.0
Demarcus Robinson (WR) - $5100
With Denzel Ward coming back at CB for the Browns, who will be shadowing Tyreek Hill, and with Sammy Watkins still nursing injuries, Demarcus Robinson has a real shot to produce on Sunday afternoon.
Stefon Diggs (WR) - $8600
Diggs is becoming matchup proof, and a date with a tough Baltimore secondary isn't enough to scare us away of taking a shot again this week.
Mark Andrews (TE) - $6600
Andrews gets a Bills defense who has been atrocious against guarding TEs this year. You can see what Jack Doyle, Trey Burton and Mo Allie-Cox did against the Bills last week in the wildcard game as proof.
Buffalo has to keep an eye on #Ravens TE Mark Andrews a lottttt this weekend The #Bills allowed 993 receiving yard… https://t.co/D3hymv73XZ— Nick (@Nick) 1610720559.0
Cam Akers (RB) - $7000
Akers has been electric for the Rams late in the year. The Packers are extremely susceptible to the run, which should translate to a good day if the score remains close.
Los Angeles Rams (DEF) - $3800
Going out on a bit of a limb here, but I think the LA Rams can get a turnover or two and possibly even snag a TD to make this play worth it.
FindBet Free Play for the Divisional Round:
Here's a team you can put right into any of your contests, just remember to buy us a beer when you win big!