Red’s dream of a 6-10 team making the NFL playoffs died on Sunday evening as the Philadelphia Eagles seemingly tanked a chance at victory over the Washington FTs in order to preserve their No. 6 spot for the 2021 draft. But at least Red has been proven right in that such an outcome is possible. The FTs will now become the third team in the Eight Division Era to make it to the playoffs with a losing record. The Seahawks in 2010 made it with a 7-9 record and Carolina in 2014 with a 7-8-1 mark. Interestingly, both of those teams won their first round playoff game. Red will take that into account and shift his focus to proving that a 5-11 team can make the playoffs under the current format.
Wildcard Weekend Predictions:
Let’s take them in order
Bills over Colts – The Bills are not really showing any signs of weakness right now. And while Red thinks that Phillip Rivers deserves more than his one appearance in an AFC Championship game, he just doesn’t see that happening against what may be the best team in the league right now (with the Chiefs sort of staggering to the finish line). Josh Allen should be MVP and Stephon Diggs is the best or second best WR in the league right now. And the Bills defense is likely just too much for the inconsistent Colts offense to handle. Still the Colts will keep it close for a while, but in the end the Bills will control the clock and wear down a very game Colts defense. Buffalo 35 – Indianapolis 21.
Seahawks over Rams – The Rams were less than impressive in a must win matchup against the stumbling Cardinals in Week 17. The Seahawks were equally mediocre in taking care of business against the 49ers. Experience counts here and the Seahawks in the era of Russell Wilson and Pete the Cheat have managed to win a playoff game every season but in 2016 when they missed the show and 2018 when they lost a close one to the Cowboys. This is just a fairly solid team that handled the Rams two weeks ago. The Seattle defense has dramatically improved and kept the team in a lot of close games. Meanwhile, the Rams seemed like they were staggering around looking for a place to fall until they found redemption against a disappointing Cardinals squad in the last week of the season. Red sees no reason to pick the Rams here, but it will likely be a low-scoring snoozefest of a playoff game. Seattle 17 Los Angeles 12.
FTs over Buccaneers – Red is operating on the team with the non-winning record’s (see above and also see the 8-8 2008 San Diego Chargers and 2011 Denver Broncos) history of first round excellence in the playoffs and the fact that all the pressure is on the Buccaneers in this game. Really, the FTs are living on borrowed time and the Bucs spent the entire off-season and season dreaming of Tom Brady leading them to Valhalla. The FTs will be loose and the Bucs will be gripping. The Bucs should win this easily with a top tier defense and experienced QB. Red is predicting the FTs knock Brady out of the game early and it turns into a slugfest. Washington 17 Tampa Bay 16.
And on to Sunday.
Ravens over Titans – It’s now or never for Lamar Jackson as far as the playoffs go. He and the Ravens desperately need a win. But they get a very tough matchup here in a Titans team that can break it loose at any time with D. Henry and A.J. Brown. LJ is going to have to will his team over the finish line. In any event, this should be your NFL Playoff Game of the Week. Baltimore 35 Tennessee 31.
Saints over Bears – This is probably Drew Brees’ last or next to last good shot at another Superb Owl appearance. He is not likely to blow it again against a thoroughly mediocre but game Bears team. It should be a blowout and have Red heading for a quick 9 holes before halftime. New Orleans 31 Chicago 14.
Browns over Stealers. A nice close out to the weekend in this one. After starting 11-0, the Stealers have posted a pathetic 1-4 record and sank from the king of the AFC to a minor prince with the third seed. Meanwhile the Browns have quietly put together a very good season even while missing some of their top talent. Assuming that all hands are on deck this weekend, Red has the Browns upsetting the Stealers even though these back to back matchups tend to favor the team that lost the season closer. Cleveland 28 Pittsburgh 20.