The Chicago Bears may have been eliminated last weekend. They also may be in dire straits for the future, according to some (many). But the rest of the league’s true elite, the final eight teams that is, play on. The Divisional Round of the playoffs is here.
The respective No. 1 seeds of each conference — the Chiefs in the AFC and the Packers in the NFC — will be heavily favored to charge on through to the first Sunday of February. Having the two best quarterbacks in the field, a loaded stack of offensive and defensive playmakers, and a good week of rest while everyone else was forced to play an extra game, will afford such a reality. But one would be remiss to count out any of the other contenders and their superstar players.
Save for the Los Angeles Rams (10 wins), every other team left standing won at least 11 regular season games. The Ravens managed as such on the back of the electric Lamar Jackson. Buffalo is here thanks to a creative offensive scheme and an MVP-caliber campaign from Josh Allen. The Browns have the finest running game in franchise history in decades — yes, almost better than the halcyon days of Jim Brown. Those mentioned Rams? They have the league’s premier defense and are riding high after humiliating Russell Wilson. Meanwhile, the old guns — Tom Brady and Drew Brees — are at the helm of arguably the most talented overall rosters remaining in the Buccaneers and Saints, respectively.
Needless to say, the next seven postseason football games will be a bloody, thrilling gauntlet. In the words of the incomparable Gene Wilder:
The suspense is terrible. I hope it lasts.
Windy City Gridiron picks the 2021 Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs.
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