As much as I wanted to do my weekly recaps and previews, I have certainly neglected that. In a nutshell, the Wildcard round was fucking incredible with a slew of great games.
Redzone Host Scott Hanson tweeted “10 Hours of Commercial Filled Football Starts Now…” and I am fucking here for it. Having playoff football on all day Saturday and Sunday was absolutely glorious, even when it comes with commercials. The stage is almost set for Conference Championships next weekend after Saturday’s games. Of course the games today will determine who plays the Bills and Packers.
Up first is Browns v Chiefs, I think that one ends with Chiefs stomping them into the ground. While I am excited for that matchup, there’s only one matchup that takes the cake for this weekend. That is of course the Bucs v Saints. It was no accident that it was saved for last.
I have been longing for this playoff matchup to happen only to be disappointed by the Saints and Brees time and time again. I thought that is the matchup we were going to get in 2017 and 2018 and we didn’t. BOOOOO!
Maybe it isn’t the Super Bowl, I will still take what we are getting with Brady v Brees. To make things even better, we will get one of them v Aaron Rodgers next week. Yes please.
It was fate to get Brees v Brady in the playoffs the day Brady jumped ship to the Bucs (no pun intended). Even when I am wrong predicting playoff games, I usually have a good pulse on what I believe will happen. It’s rare where I am stuck in limbo.
In this case, I have no fucking idea. To channel my inner John Madden, I can see a Bucs blowout, a Saints blowout, a close game or anything in between. The only thing I can confidently say (in my best John Madden impression), well Pat, the team that scores more points is likely going to be the winner.
Many fans may point to the fact that the Bucs got absolutely obliterated in Week 1 and Week 9 against the black and gold. Saints account for 40% of the Bucs Ls this year. I won’t use the tired cliche of “it’s hard to beat the same team 3 times in a season” because it’s not. Since the merger, the team who is 2-0 in the regular season has a 14-7 record in the postseason.
Chance at 3-0 Sweep in NFL Since the Merger
- 1982 – Dolphins 3-0 v Jets
- 1986 – Giants 3-0 v Redskins (do I call them Football Team?)
- 1989 – Oilers 2-1 v Steelers
- 1991 – Chiefs 3-0 v Raiders
- 1993 – Raiders 3-0 v Broncos
- 1994 – Vikings 2-1 v Bears
- 1994 – Steelers 3-0 v Browns
- 1997 – Packers 3-0 v Bucs
- 1997 – Patriots 3-0 v Dolphins
- 1998 – Cowboys 2-1 v Cardinals
- 2000 – Giants 3-0 v Eagles
- 2002 – Steelers 3-0 v Browns
- 2004 – Packers 2-1 v Vikings
- 2007 – Cowboys 2-1 v Giants
- 2008 – Steelers 3-0 v Ravens
- 2009 – Cowboys 3-0 v Eagles
- 2017 – Saints 3-0 v Panthers
There is plenty of truth to one team having another team’s number. I think that has been the case for Sean Payton with Bruce Arians. Not only did the Saints beat the Bucs twice, they made the Bucs look like a futile opponent twice, especially in week 9.
That being said, the Bucs look like a different team as of late. When they played in Week 1, let’s not forget the NFL was in shambles due to no training camp and preseason. The first four weeks are always a toss up with plenty of pretenders, but even more so this year. Many of the QBs with new teams struggled in first few weeks of the season.
Going back to Payton having Bruce Arians’ number, we saw a different offense in Week 9 than we have seen more recently from the Bucs. The Saints obliterated the Bucs with their pass rush and Arians refused to use extra TEs or RBs to help protect Brady. They just kept throwing themselves into a deeper hole. Brady couldn’t handle the rush and Week 9 was the worst game I have seen him play in recent years.
Since the Bucs have been on a roll, we have seen them using extra blockers to give Brady more time to find his weapons which he has plenty of. When you have Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate at your disposal, that is plenty of ground to cover.
That is what makes the matchup so damn hard to call because the Saints defense is stout. Let’s assume they are putting Marshon Lattimore on Evans. He probably does what he has done for his career, eliminate him from the equation. If Lattimore is on Evans, I would be utterly surprised to see a big game from him.
It’s not like the Saints don’t have other great pieces to cover everyone else. Who does Chauncey Gardner Johnson get thrown out this week? Seriously, what the fuck is he telling receivers!? Malcolm Jenkins looks like night and day since the first few weeks, although he still isn’t great. Janoris Jenkins has been fantastic. Then Demario Davis can still cover sideline to sideline better than most linebackers.
One thing that could happen if the Bucs are able to protect Brady is plenty of throws downfield, which I don’t think helps the Saints. They are notorious for not being able to cover vertically giving up plenty of PIs in the process.
I just don’t have a clue on how this one plays out. As I said before, I can see just about anything unfold. Yes to everything.
The only thing I know is that I am ready to see a playoff matchup between Brees and Brady, even if it comes when both are 40+ years old.
To answer the million dollar question I have been asked a dozen times before, who do I cheer for if the Saints ever play against Brady in the postseason?
Tom Brady no matter what.