Football Outsiders
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Sunday Wild-Card Discussion

Mark Andrews
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

This is the open discussion thread for all three of Sunday's wild-card playoff games:

  • Baltimore at Tennessee (1:05pm Eastern)
  • Chicago at New Orleans (4:40pm Eastern)
  • Cleveland at Pittsburgh (8:15pm Eastern)

Comments

127 comments, Last at 11 Jan 2021, 12:41am

1 Those ground game hating…

Those ground game hating people like ben Baldwin gonna have diifficult time watching  Ravens-Titans agme. Hating such a major part of football must be rough. Makes me  think of sheep being allergic to wool or baseball fan who hates pitching.

2 More optimistic about Ravens

I have posted twice about how much I dislike the Titans matchup due to Tennessee being awful on pass defense and that the Ravens would not take advantage.

However, after watching yesterday's games I am upgrading the Ravens since the refs seemingly let PI, holding, illegal contact,  pass interference and roughing the passer go unnoticed unless blatant.  This is the Ravens dream; since they throw so little and have a poor receiving crew, they rarely draw these penalties.  However, the defense is very aggressive and often gets flagged.

Few offensive holding penalties also helps a rush offense, I am not afraid of Derrick Henry, Tennessee has a much more efficient passing attack then rushing attack.  The Ravens pass offense is only more efficient than their run offense due to Jackson scrambles, which also lead to offensive holding penalties.

This is not new to the playoffs.  The Ravens won a Super Bowl by getting a non-call on a pass interference against a Peyton Manning receiver, resulting in a pick 6 in the AFC division game, and committed two defensive holds on 4th and goal against SF in the Super Bowl, of which neither were called (other than Jim Harbaugh on the SF sideline).

Of course lets not forget the play that went against the Saints on a non PI call that led to pass interference becoming challengeable for a brief period of time.

An odd reason to upgrade the Ravens, but that is my argument.

 

 

7 Ah man

Really wish the Ravens would've just ran a play instead of kneeling it. There's a low chance that they fumble it, very low chance TN recovers it and an insanely low chance TN bring it back for a TD, with 5 seconds left.

8 Double post

Can the Ravens complete their first comback down 10+?

10 Can the Ravens progress far…

Can the Ravens progress far in the playoffs with virtually zero passing offense? Seems doubtful. Might be just enough tonight though. 

12 Punt

Horrible punt on 4th and 2 for the Titans in Ravens territory. They might not get many more possessions this game

16 Derrick Henry MVP

Some people believe this, hopefully no one that reads this site

17 Can't believe TEN is only…

Can't believe TEN is only going to score 13 points.  I really thought their O was rounding into form as a versatile, do-anything attack.  

I'm not surprised that BAL's O was unable to take much advantage of TEN's weak pass D, but I am surprised that the obit on TEN's season is going to say it was their O, not their D, that let them down in the end.

18 I know this is going feel…

I know this is going feel like a gutting loss for Titans, but I am kind of impressed with this two year run of theirs which really came out of nowhere. Two years ago the Titans seemed like the Jaguars experiencing life after Bortles(Mariotta). Now they transformed into a contender. Clearly they will need to fix their defense going forward 

26 You're not giving the…

You're not giving the Mariota Titans enough credit by comparing them to the Jaguars.  Aside from his rookie year, they finished 9-7 three straight times, including a playoff win (under Mike Mularkey of all people!).  They were more like the pre-Holgrem Seahawks in the late 90's: not terrible, just a forgettable middling team.

23 Henry shut down

Ravens shut down Henry all game, and the Titans O couldn't get into rhythm without a little bit more of Henry. Surprised about that 4th and 2 call towards the end, putting your defense on the line there when your offense is tops in the league was just a poor decision.

Felt like the Titan's defense did surprisingly well, but that first Jackson run opened everything up for Baltimore. Hard to contain someone that quick at QB for a full game, he can just break one like that any time you get lax.

30 Not expecting much from this…

Not expecting much from this game to be honest. Saints won't find it easy on offense, but will grind out enough scoring drives. I struggle to see where the Bears offense is coming from. The only path to an upset would be multiple Saints turnovers.

33 I still don't trust Trubisky…

I still don't trust Trubisky to keep this up, but he's throwing ropes today. Unfortunately for the Bears, Wims alligator-armed the best one.

37 Can someone explain that penalty on Kmet?

I'm not sure I've ever seen a penalty called for just yelling at an opponent. He did put his hand briefly in Jenkins shoulder. Was it flipping the ball to the ref before he walked back to the huddle? 

Should I actually have turned the volume up on the broadcast?

Felt like a shitty call against the bears that really cost them

39 Also, has anyone else…

Also, has anyone else noticed that they’ve changed the way they film players after TDs, on the sidelines, or in other situations where they want the focus on one person? They’ve decreased the depth of field, leading people/things not at a certain distance from camera to be blurry. It makes you focus on one person but also makes it look more video game-ish (Madden games do this) and also makes it harder on cameraman if people are moving in and out of focus.

44 Yeah I've noticed it too. I…

Yeah I've noticed it too. I still only have a 1080 display. I do wonder what it looks like on a 4k or better display since it's clearly using a camera at those higher resolutions too.

46 Didn't see many of their…

Didn't see many of their early season games did you? This looks a lot like I remember from those, including the Packers game though the Packers had no idea how to play defense at that point so NO put up points and and had some pass plays that looked big but were a bit of a mirage because the holes in the zone were large and Brees still barely made since of the throws.

47 I think Trubisky is actually…

I think Trubisky is actually playing solidly. Unfortunately, his team has decided now is a great time to sabotage because...he deserves it? Now I really feel bad for the kid. 

 

EDIT 

The Bears defensive performance would infuriate me as a fan. A clinic of missed tackles and an inability to cover passes 6 yards-10 yards down the field despite the fact that thats the only kind of throw Brees can make consistently these days. 

52 Maybe the Bears defense wasn…

Maybe the Bears defense wasn't great, but they kept them in the game. The Chicago pass rush was lively in the first half before Brees seemed to settle in and play it patiently in the second half. Ultimately the Bears lost because they got absolutely nothing on offense tonight - before that final drive for the TD in garbage time on their 10th possession, I believe they gained 6 first downs on their first 9 drives. Six!

I don't think Trubisky was solely responsible for their issues on offense, and that Wims drop was tough, but the organization should have no illusions about Trubisky supposedly turning the corner or whatever. They should be comfortable moving on - probably from Pace, too.

48 Rodgers and Mahomes waiting to up the scoring

Does the NFL have special rules this weekend to keep the scores down or will GB and KC have a cakewalk to the Super Bowl?  Scoring way down this weekend, just does not seem like a 5 game oddity to me.

I expected the Ravens-Titans to be 38-35, until I saw yesterday’s games.  If you asked me who would win, I would have said the team that scores 38.

49 Over-unders for the six…

Over-unders for the six games were:
 

IND-BUF: 50.5 - over (51)
LAR-SEA: 42 - over (50)
TAM-WAS: 44.5 - over (54)
BAL-TEN: 53.5 - under (33)
CHI-NO: 48 - under (24, maybe as high as 38 with a crazy finish)
CLE-PIT: 48

Today's low, but all three games yesterday hit the over.

50 I ll try another way

Your point is well taken.  However Rams Seattle, 333-278 yards, Tennessee 209, Bears need garbage time drive to reach 200.

But upon further review it is my imagination, Colts Bills Wash Tampa Baltimore and New Orleans tons of yards.

I guess my expectation for playoff games offense is too high even by today’s NFL standards.

53 Great coaching!!!

Best result ever for a Cleveland coach, but seriously that changes game right out of the gate.  Pittsburgh was not expecting to need to outplay Cleveland by 7 over course of game just to get to OT 

58 It shouldn't be, because…

It shouldn't be, because they should have seen enough by now to know to move on.

It probably wasn't, because he had 4 good games and made the playoffs twice in four years. 9-figure extension incoming...

60 You mean it SHOULD be?

Unless you mean the final nail was already in there. Well this one is the cherry on top. 

I cant imagine the thought process behind reupping Turbo

66 I gotcha

Today should've exhausted everything. The mental gymnastics one would have to go through would be an all timer.

92 What it should be is the…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

What it should be is the nail in the coffin for Ryan Pace. 42-54 record, 1 winning season, 0 playoff wins, and a complete and total whiff on every type of QB - free agent (Glennon), drafted (Trubisky), and traded for (Foles).

I had evolved into something of a Nagy apologist but the way today’s game was called, and how undisciplined his players were, makes me question that. And if they fire Pace, well, it’s always cleaner to give the new GM full control. Although Nagy may be the best option for 2021.

if the Bears do what I suspect they’ll do and keep Pace, then they may as well re-sign Trubisky. My nightmare is Pace trading up for another first round QB and setting the team back another 4 years.

105 True.

I think in order of most to least incompetent it goes: Pace->Trubisky->Nagy.

20th pick (in this draft at least) is purgatory for QB and like you said trading up can be bad (like it was in 2017). Moving on from Trubisky should be easy though. He's an UFA and you can just roll with (kinda uncuttable) Foles as the mediocre QB next year without dolling out new guaranteed money for the most pointless QB battle. 

55 Yikes

Well this has escalated quickly...

56 Now its 14-0

Wondering when last team led 14-0 this quickly.

64 Or 21-0 this quickly

In reply to by jheidelberg

Would think Chubb and Co should be able to slow this game down. Without Cleveland TOs hard to imagine PITT coming all the way back...

57 Maaaaybe

the Steelers shouldn't have rested so many last week lol

Also Big Ben refusing to QB sneak is hilarious. 

No they absolutely shouldnt have rested.

They say blow outs aren't fun, I'm having a lot of fun right now lol

63 Coach Schmoach

Bigger truth than the absence of Stefanski is the fact the Steelers have not been a good team for a month and a half... Now let's see if they can at least make this interesting...

67 Its the end of the Steelers

Time to sing:

Its the end of the Steelers as we know it 

Its the end of the Steelers as we know it

And I feel fine

71 here goes

Baker Mayfield, COVID, Tomlin, Stefanski, jarvis Landry, TJ Watt, Big Ben, LEONARD BERNSTEIN

It's the end of the Steelers as we know it

It's the end of the Steelers as we know it

And I feel fine

Collinsworth, Michaels, Cosell, Dandy Don, Gifford, Rooney Rule, OBJ, Pouncey Fails, KAREEM HUNT

It's the end of the Steelers as we know it

It's the end of the Steelers as we know it

And I feel fine

74 BRAVO!!!

In reply to by oaktoon

I write twisted tunes as a hobby.  That is an awesome quickly written hit

69 As a Bills fan

As a Bills fan, I am hating this because now the Bills will likely have to deal with the Ravens while the Chiefs will effectively get a second bye against the Browns. But I can’t help it: I’m laughing out loud at Pittsburgh right now. Roethlisberger needs to retire now, and there’s still 1:56 left in the first quarter. 

72 You Gotta Do What You gotta Do

In reply to by Tutenkharnage

and if that means beating Lamar, Mahomes and Rodgers in three straight games, so be it.  Enjoy the collapse of a franchise that is now without a sniff of the SB for a decade...

78 I know, I know ...

But Baltimore was going to be WAYYYYYY tougher. This is going to be first time all weekend where I’m going to walk away feeling as if the weaker team advanced (weaker overall, not just in that game). I’m probably selling the Browns a LITTLE short here, given how little I think of the Steelers, but I think the Browns are just the Colts, only not as good overall. 

82 I didn't check the score of…

I didn't check the score of this game until just now. What an absolutely shocking scoreline. The Steelers lost not only to Washington but to Cincinnati in the latter part of the season, so a Browns win didn't seem out of the question... On the other hand, Pittsburgh almost won with their backups last week against Cleveland. One way or another, 28-0 is one of the most surprising scores I've seen in a long time.

EDIT: Wow, it was 28-0 in the first quarter. That's even crazier.

83 Ok, the part of this game…

Ok, the part of this game that I didn't expect is the Steelers Defense to get rolled so hard. Yikes, just an ugly ugly performance. 

87 35-10 at half

This is what Super Bowls used to look like.  Super Bowl XXII after 1987 season, Washington 35-10 at half after outscoring Denver 35-0 in 2nd quarter.

89 I feel like im watching the…

I feel like im watching the end of a once proud contender. Like the 2000s Detroit Pistons? Maybe the 80s Pistons also works. 

91 Frank Reich is watching

This comeback is a cinch for him.  I saw the game and years later I say how on earth does team come back from 35-3 2nd half deficit?

103 And follows it up ...

... with an even bigger mistake when he refuses to just go for it at midfield on fourth-and-1 down 12 points. Perhaps he made a bet with Vrabel to see who could launch the stupider punt. (If so ... congrats, Mike!)

99 If Gregg Easterbrook were…

If Gregg Easterbrook were still relevant, he would’ve written “Game over” in his notebook after that punt.

104 Tomlin is such a dumb moron…

Tomlin is such a dumb moron in game management. 

You would think he would learn after 14+ years, but no. He STILL makes these dumb mistakes.

The worst thing is not that he punted, it's that he didn't learn from the first time he did it 14+ years ago.

 

100 Tomlin makes ANOTHER dumb…

Tomlin makes ANOTHER dumb fucking mistake not going for it on 4th and 1. 

But hey, he's a great motivator and never had a losing season.

Dumb dumb dumb idiot.

Ballgame right there.

114 The most important part of…

The most important part of Browns and Rams winning this weekend is the dream 'these teams supplied the New York Jets with their only wins of the season' Super Bowl matchup is still alive. Just imagine, we can hear Adam Gase all Super Bowl week break down how to stop the two teams.

But seriously, losing to a team that started 0-13 in the last few weeks of the season is not the prelude you would imagine for teams that land big upset road wins in the playoffs.

116 Turnover number 5 seals the…

Turnover number 5 seals the win.

How do you win as a road underdog?  Winning the turnover battle 5-0 should do it.

 

123 History doesn't repeat itself but it rhymes.

The Steelers were booted out of the 2017 wild card weekend by Leonard Fournette, and in 2020 by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.  In both of those years they had great run defense during the regular season, so it's extra frustrating to see it.

125 I'm not sure how much to…

I'm not sure how much to read in this game. Just one of those games where the game script turned on the Steelers from jump.

 

That said, congrats to the Browns and especially their fans. This is why I love the NFL and think the nba is substandard. In the NfL you don't need the equivalent of luke skywalker to save your franchise.