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Sunday Divisional Round Discussion

Tom Brady
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

This is the open discussion thread for both of Sunday's divisional-round playoff games: Cleveland at Kansas City followed by Tampa Bay at New Orleans.


262 comments, Last at 19 Jan 2021, 5:19pm

1 First!

Love the Chiefs, but gotta pull for the Browns today. Want next week's game in Buffalo so badly.

2 GB wants NO

rather than TB but Brady v Rodgers is a long awaited playoff matchup too. 

3 Brady

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

He's done so many amazing things during his career, but if he beats New Orleans and Green Bay on the road in consecutive weeks, that might top the list.

5 Great observation

In reply to by Tutenkharnage

What a great observation. The only guy to do it better would have been Joe Flacco when he went on the road to out play P.Manning and then Brady on his way to the S.B. He did it in front of packed stadiums no less.

8 Hmm

In reply to by Tutenkharnage

Would be pretty impressive. RS win% of 67% (32/48) for his opponents. Wonder if anything tops that in his career.

261 Brady

In reply to by Tutenkharnage

Under the heading - What have you done for me lately?

I will randomly pick some seasons. (Look at that - randomly picked the last 5 seasons)



2020 wild card 2-0 so far in playoffs

2019 won toilet bowl 0-1 in playoffs

2018 won superbowl  4-1 in playoffs

2017 Lost superbowl  - 2-1 in playoffs 

2016 Won super bowl 3 - 0 in playoffs


Last 5 yrs; playoffs - 11-3 





262 Brady

In reply to by Tutenkharnage

Under the heading - What have you done for me lately?

I will randomly pick some seasons. (Look at that - randomly picked the last 5 seasons)



2020 wild card 2-0 so far in playoffs 

2019 won toilet bowl 0-1 in playoffs

2018 won superbowl  4-0 in playoffs Beat ? and ? and then  KC and then Rams

2017 Lost superbowl  - 2-1 in playoffs 

2016 Won super bowl 3 - 0 in playoffs Beat ? and ? and Falcons


Last 5 yrs; playoffs - 11-2


Just curious, who has had the most BYE's in playoffs in SB era? 





4 I certainly expect KC to win…

I certainly expect KC to win today, but I am surprised the line is at 10 points. It was half the season ago the last time the Chiefs beat a team by 10... And they were playing the Jets that day.

EDIT: Although now I'm seeing the line is now down to 8.

6 I'm also wondering if this will be one of those games where

"styles make fights." KC has got to be a little nervous about that terrible run D containing Chubb and Hunt, right? No question KC is better, but CLE has a strength ready to press on KC's one glaring weakness.

Edit: Welp, already clear it was wishful thinking on my part. Pulling for the Browns, but looking ugly early.

26 I’m not too surprised

Some of it is just public perception, or the books’ perception of the public’s perception. The public thinks the Browns are lucky to be here and the Chiefs are juggernaut, ergo 10 points. Give the extra bye week and Reid’s record after byes, though, I’d be shocked if the Browns covered without a garbage-time backdoor touchdown. 

41 If it were really just a…

If it were really just a matter of public perception, Vegas would be relatively easy to beat. Just bet against teams with huge fan bases. In reality, oddsmakers are almost impossible to beat.

50 But there’s a reason for that

They adjust their lines to limit their exposure. I mean, if Cleveland had been only a seven-point underdog, the money would have poured in on the Chiefs, and the line would have climbed rapidly. 

15 I love Cleveland (the city…

I love Cleveland (the city and the team), I'm rooting for them, but this looks to me like one of the biggest Divisional-round mismatches that I can remember. If they actually pull this off, the entire team - roster, coaching staff, trainers, front office, ticket takers, popcorn vendors, feral cats haunting the rafters - needs to be inducted into their own wing of the Hall of Fame. I don't see any possible way they win unless KC has some truly tragic injuries - and it's Cleveland who just lost their very good starting LT.

I picked KC 45 CLE 24 yesterday, and my other predictions were wildly incorrect, but I made my bed and I'm going to sleep in it, damn it.

I also have a feeling TB's going to beat NO pretty handily, but I'm hoping for an entertaining game at least.

19 I would largely agree with…

I would largely agree with that. I don't see any way Cleveland stops them, barring turnover luck.

It struck me just now how incredibly lucky KC has been with it's playoff opponents the past two years. Last season they were nailed on to be 3rd seed, and a succession of wild upsets saw them vaulted to #2, then host Houston and Tennessee in consecutive weeks. This year isn't quite that silly, but they sure as hell were happy to be facing Cleveland rather than Baltimore this week. Dynasties can be built on such happenings. 

23 Not sure I'd go quite that…

Not sure I'd go quite that far. They have spluttered at times this year. The Patriots have certainly quietened them for long periods, and SF did a good job for most of last year's Super Bowl. It remains possible. 

A bit of hindsight here, but it didn't take much imagination to see them coming out and laying waste to an average Browns defense after an extra week to rest/prepare. 

I would agree they are possibly the scariest offence I have seen, in terms of their ability to explode at any moment.  

25 My larger point is I don't…

My larger point is I don't even have confidence that a good defense like Buffalo's will stop this Chief's offense.

Tampa Bay has a good defense and got absolutely lit up by this Chiefs offense.

The league has legislated against defense over and over and over again that this feels like the natural conclusion.

53 Nah

You’d build that Eagles team that won the Super Bowl: an offense that can go toe to toe with KC’s and an opportunistic defense that can come up with a big sack or turnover, which can be all the difference in a shootout. Every remaining team except Cleveland fits that bill. Heck, KC’s own defense fits that bill. 

28 I agree that no team is…

I agree that no team is beating them that cannot at least attempt to go toe to toe offensively (barring a silly turnover fest). But Buffalo and Green Bay fit that bill, and possibly NO and TB also. 

32 Here's where my worry goes…

Here's where my worry goes. If you have no chance to stop them on defense, the league that was already slanted towards the quarterback becomes even more slanted towards the quarterback. Because unless you have Aaron Rodgers or some other elite quarterback, you are going to be at a disadvantage offensively.


The stylistic variation of teams is going to look pretty meaningless if the answer to winning the super bowl amounts to get yourself Patrick Mahomes and some weapons.


This was certainly not true for the Colts during the Manning era.

34 I don't think we can have…

I don't think we can have confidence in any team to stop the best offense of its era. But the Bills did "hold" the Chiefs to 26 when they played, which is at least a manageable total.

(And of course, the Falcons of all teams held the Chiefs to 17 a couple of weeks ago. And the Broncos held them to 22 a couple weeks before that. Maybe that was just the Chiefs goofing around against teams they didn't fear, but at the end of the day there is precedent to holding them to below-league-average point totals.)

61 They were slowed down in the…

They were slowed down in the second half of the regular season by teams that aren't even good, like the Falcons and Broncos. When the Raiders beat them the Chiefs offense was almost completely shut down in the second half.

18 Anyone here have any…

Anyone here have any confidence in the Browns defense stopping the Chiefs on Offense???



21 Not I

No chance whatsoever, in theory. But KC had been sloppy since Thanksgiving, and there’s always a chance they slow themselves down on occasion. 

22 That's true anyone can have…

In reply to by Tutenkharnage

That's true anyone can have an off day, but the Browns look completely overwhelmed.

This game could mirror last year's afc playoffs pretty quickly

24 Yep

KC’s defense can certainly be had—frankly, it’s just not very good, especially without the lead—but Cleveland can’t take advantage if they keep dropping what should be easy catches. 

30 In terms of consistently…

In terms of consistently forcing them to punt? None, absolutely none whatsoever.

But I could see them getting some turnovers, especially if Garrett can get into the backfield consistently. KC had 19 fumbles on the year and while Mahomes' INT% is low, he'll throw some pick-able balls from time to time. They ought to have a few opportunities for takeaways, and their only real hope is to take advantage when they come.

36 The Browns Just Browned

there are few things more demoralizing that losing a fumble out of bounds in the end zone.

38 OMG

My God even the luck fairy is going the Chiefs way

52 Yes it isn't objectively the…

Yes it isn't objectively the stupidest rule. But rules should be designed with as much of a sliding spectrum as possible specifically to avoid situations like that.

Personally, I'd prefer that a fumble out of bounds results in a change of possession anywhere on the field (in line with rugby/soccer).

44 Wowwwww, fumble out the…

Wowwwww, fumble out the endzone on a play that was 6 inches from making this game competitive again. Should have been a flag for helmet-to-helmet though, that was absolutely blatant.

I hate to say it, but that might be game over. Cleveland's going to have to play the second half down 2 scores (at least), making it hard to press their one real advantage (rushing) as the clock dwindles down.

45 The whole not reviewable thing is nuts

Clearly led with the helmet. You're looking at the replay for another reason, why refuse to notice a clear foul? And the foul arguably caused the fumble.

49 Announcers said it's not…

Announcers said it's not reviewable. Seems like it should be, though. And I thought it was pretty clear that the foul did indeed cause the fumble - he loses the ball the second contact is made, and that contact was 100% helmet-to-helmet.

46 A few minutes ago CBS told…

A few minutes ago CBS told us that Myles Garrett is nominated for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award. I know no one cares about that award, but the fact that a guy who tried to cave in an opponent's skull just last season would be nominated is fully insane.

47 I guess it violates the…

I guess it violates the title of the award, but I think we should still recognize people who do extraordinary things off of the field. 

I'm a little more miffed than Garrett never owned up to it though

55 Man

Have to 'like' the give up attitude of the receiver who saw the ball be intercepted and just bent over at the waist and didn't bother even pursuing the play.  


I hate that stuff.  You never know what happens when you trail a play.  Garrett ran 40 yards earlier in the game to tackle a running back.  That is how you play.



58 Landry

In reply to by big10freak

I was just texting the same thing to some buddies. Absolutely inexcusable. 

64 101 yards last night

In reply to by big10freak

After not running at first, someone had to run that play down

56 The sideline reporter…

The sideline reporter reported that the Browns HC said they need to establish the run game in the second half.  It's kind of ridiculous that you wouldn't be trying to establish the run in the second quarter, before halftime (even if down by two scores), but the Browns went pass happy to end the first half.  Then a couple plays in on the Browns' first possession of the second half, Mayfield gets picked and now KC is starting in or near the red zone.  there needs to be a Scramble award for playing desperation football too early in the game.

62 Exactly

The one thing I thought the Browns had a clear advantage was their run game. Do not understand how the putative Coach of the Year would just blow it off for a whole half.

72 They also won the flip and…

In reply to by Raiderfan

They also won the flip and deferred. If you want to employ a run-heavy offense - not a bad strategy in this particular matchup! - you want to be playing with the lead as much as possible. Why would you voluntarily hand a great passing offense the opportunity to make you play from behind from the outset? I get either decision on its own (establish the run, open the 2nd half with the ball), but they're inconsistent here - he didn't think it through.

59 Butker

Kicking is weird even for the best.

60 Butker crazy stats

48-54 on extra points, 25-27 on FG, clearly his average FG attempt was way longer than an extra point.  

63 The Bronco auto commercial

buries the needle on stupid.  I keep hearing that bit about everyone being dumber for having heard this.

68 Goodness

The dropoff from Mahomes to Chad Henne is.................................dramatic

79 In the Bears/ Packers

NFC Championship game Rodgers was clearly concussed after the helmet to helmet hit by Julius Peppers.  No way does Rodgers stay in the game nowadays.  But then he tried to gut it out

90 And does this count as a…

And does this count as a crazy Reid decision?  I mean, your QB is a bit banged up, its not a 4th down where you absolutely need it, and you run the option.  You can argue the injury is fluky, but I think that's really adding some risk.

74 Clean hit.

But Henne this year is 6th/56 QBs that have at least 47 plays, in EPA+CPOE composite. Mahomes is 3rd. They could still hold on! 

76 I still think the Chiefs can…

I still think the Chiefs can win this game even without Mahomes though obviously it gets a lot dicier. I will be interested to see if Cleveland changes their own offensive approach now. 

80 I would have gone for that…

I would have gone for that fourth down rather than kick the FG. I mean, fourth and one isn't quite automatic but it should be close.

81 Now it is much more likely…

Now it is much more likely the missed call on the fumble out of the endzone will loom large, unless Cleveland comes back and wins anyway.

85 I feel like any throw that…

I feel like any throw that sails out of bounds with no receiver in sight should be intentional grounding. 

88 Yes, that would seems like a…

Yes, that would seems like a sensible rebalancing of the rules in favor of the defense. 

I suppose the issue is that the throwaway often acts as a bailout for the QB to prevent them taking a hit, so it doesn't necessarily fit with the 'player safety movement'. 

106 I still think that even if…

In reply to by Tutenkharnage

I still think that even if they allowed the out-of-pocket throwaways, just enforcing the current rule reasonably would go a long way towards rebalancing the league. Like those red zone plays where everyone is covered so the QB throws it "toward" someone but 5 yards over their head - that's intentional grounding! Back them up! I suppose they're worried about enforcing that consistently, but I don't think it's impossible to arrive at some reasonable consensus as to what is "close enough" to not be grounding.

89 Turn the tables?

Do Chiefs go up two scores and lose?  I am not expecting this but this would be amazing turn of events considering what Chiefs did last postseason.

91 Hard to feel for Chiefs fans…

Hard to feel for Chiefs fans who have enjoyed winning the SB, but I can't imagine the gutting feeling of losing your star QB. Must be such a deflating experience. 

92 As a Packer fan

watching Rodgers leave a game and then later learn he's out for an extended period yeah, no fun.


But what was far more galling was watching a coaching staff kind of give up and not coach to what the remaining roster 'could' do.  

94 I wouldn’t pity the chiefs…

I wouldn’t pity the chiefs if they lost, that would be on their D. Even if he doesn’t return Mahomes gave them a 12 point lead.

96 We shall see, but I would…

We shall see, but I would not be surprised if the Chiefs come to rue kicking that FG instead of going for it on their last drive.

105 Weird game

In reply to by Bob Smith

Between the missed FG, missed PAT, and fumble through the end zone, this game is starting to get about as weird as yesterday’s Bills-Ravens game. 

126 Weird wind gusts here

In reply to by Bob Smith

I live 5 miles directly south of the stadiums here in KC. I had to be outside for a lot of the first half and watching through the window. Anyway there were 20+ MPH wind gust that would come from the north, west, or south. It doesn't seem like difficult weather but it's weird for around here. I'm a distance runner so I'm out in weather here a lot and having wind push that hard from three different cardinal directions is not something I'm used to seeing.

It's nothing like the buffalo game last night, but I do wonder if it's had an effect on the field.

103 Cant really blame him, though

He’s flying blind (not enough time to get a clean replay), and it’s a 23-yard gain. I’ll bet Stefanski was feeling the burn of having failed to challenge an early “catch” that would have been ruled incomplete. 

114 Exactly. I thought on the…

Exactly. I thought on the quick, real-time replay they showed right before the break it looked like the tip of the ball might have hit the ground when his hands were off it, and I'd guess that's about all the Cleveland review guys saw before they had to throw the flag. Seemed like a reasonable gamble to me, even if on further/slow-mo review it turned out to be complete. Add in the pressure after being too slow to challenge the more clear incomplete earlier, and I can't be mad at trying to take the big play off the board there.

118 FWIW

the reason I reacted so strongly is that I did not see anything in real time that caused me to think there was an issue with the catch.  

111 That might have been the…

That might have been the most unbelievably, inexcusably awful interception I have ever seen. He threw it like it was meant to be a hail marry. 

112 It can't happen can it?…

It can't happen can it? Browns vs Bills in the AFC Championship Game? Is hell about to freeze over?

113 I feel like this game has…

I feel like this game has played out how DVOA expected, plus Mahomes injury. Even with Mahomes, this game was competitive. Both teams had a lot of offensive success and did virtually 0 success on defense. The difference in score was mainly due to the fumble out the back of the end zone. We’re talking a 2 point KC lead when Mahomes left if it weren’t for that 1 fluke play / bad call (glad I don’t have a fan base pissed off because I couldn’t see that live). 

I’ll take the Bills in the AFC Championship at this point, no matter what happens or who wins this one. 

127 I am

One of those teams is relatively healthy, 4th in season-long DVOA, and 1st in weighted DVOA. The other is the Chiefs. 

232 I’m not predicting a blowout…

I’m not predicting a blowout or anything like that, but I’m comfortable that the Bills are better than the defense-less Chiefs. If Mahomes doesn’t go, then I’ll predict a blowout.... I sure hope that doesn’t happen though. 

121 "Even with Mahomes, this…

"Even with Mahomes, this game was competitive. Both teams had a lot of offensive success and did virtually 0 success on defense. The difference in score was mainly due to the fumble out the back of the end zone."


The Chiefs could easily have had more points if they had finished a few more drives or simply hit their FGs and XPs.

131 True, but

against the 25th ranked defense by DVOA, Chiefs didn't look like world-beaters even with Mahomes. Chiefs really cooled off at the end of the season, finishing a surprising 6th in DVOA, and they didn't flip the switch like many assumed they would today. The Bills are really, really good.

145 Yeah

In reply to by Dave from DC

I’m disappointed the Browns couldn’t pull that out, but I’m still where I’ve been at since December ended: if the Chiefs play like they have for the last two months, they’re going to lose. Even before Mahomes left the game, they didn’t look like a team that had suddenly flipped the mythical switch.

Should be a good one, though!

234 I think you hit it on the…

In reply to by Tutenkharnage

I think you hit it on the head. Assuming that a team will suddenly kick back into gear in the playoffs is an assumption that has rarely proven true in NFL history. And in this first game, that clearly didn’t happen. 

249 I watched a different game, apparently

At no point did it look like the Browns had any shot at winning.  When Mahomes was in, it was a seriously 1-sided game.  And when he went out, the Browns didn't look like they were doing enough.  I mean, they couldn't stop an offense led by Chad Henne!

253 I’m not sure what game you…

I’m not sure what game you were watching, but the game I was watching included 0 touchdowns on the final 6 KC drives and was decided by 5 points without considering the highly likely 7 points that the browns would have had if it weren’t for the fumble out the back of the end zone. 



EDIT: Ahem. I'm better now. I guess they're figuring Henne literally can't do anything - which seems at odds with what we saw last drive, even if it did end with an almost comically awful interception. Is forcing a punt with non-negligible time left more likely than converting 4th and 8 (I think it was)? I suppose objectively it is, but I'm skeptical in this exact moment.

123 I love to see what analytics say.

With 1 timeout you may never get ball back.  You need a stop anyway  so with a 4th down fail KC can not ice game with FG. 

i must think you are correct that punt is terrible call.

151 I mean

it does give the FG a 0% chance of success, so it's basically the expectancy if you turn the ball over right there.

167 With some bump for the…

In reply to by Dave from DC

With some bump for the likelihood of a defensive foul, like running into the kicker or holding.

134 Oh wow, good spot by the…

Oh wow, good spot by the refs. I thought for sure the refs spotted him too short, but replay shows they pretty much nailed it.