From the Press Box: It's time for the NFL Playoffs.
Time for NFL playoffsIt’s finally here. The NFL playoffs kick-off today as the League managed to play all 256 games in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.In the AFC, the following teams made the playoffs (*denotes division winner): Kansas City Chiefs* (first-round bye), Buffalo Bills*, Pittsburgh Steelers*, Tennessee Titans*, Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.In the NFC, the following teams made the playoffs: Green Bay Packers* (first-round bye), New Orleans Saints*, Seattle Seahawks*, Washington Football Team*, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Bears.If you’ve kept score from my preseason Super Bowl picks, they are still alive and are still solid picks: New Orleans and Baltimore.What makes this weekend more exciting is all of the stories coming along.Washington will likely have quarterback Alex Smith (who should be the Comeback Player of the Year) leading a team with no nick-name and have a coach in Ron Rivera who beat cancer during the year.Tampa Bay, or TOMpa Bay as I like to call them, is led by the Greatest of All Time in Tom Brady. Brady will be playing on a Wild Card team for the first time in his career.The Chicago Bears haven’t know who they should really start at quarterback all season but have bounced between Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky all year.The Indianapolis Colts are led by another aging quarterback, Philip Rivers, who may be playing in his last game this weekend.Then there are the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns. Both are hoping to end droughts of no playoff wins. The Bills haven’t won a playoff game since 1995. The Browns haven’t won a playoff game since 1994.I’d love to jump on the Bills bandwagon, but I’ve gotta stick with my preseason picks with New Orleans and Baltimore.The Ravens are playing red-hot right now. Granted, their last three wins have been against the Giants, Bengals and Jaguars.In the playoffs, teams are needing to slow down the Bills, Chiefs and Steelers by keeping the ball away from them. The Ravens can do that as they lead the team in rushing at 191.9 yards/game.The Ravens are also fourth in third-down conversion percentage and sixth in length of drive.Add in that quarterback Lamar Jackson has a chip on his shoulder wanting to quiet the critics saying he can’t win a playoff game.They go on the road the road to take on Tennessee Titans on Sunday at 12:05 p.m. The Titans have beat them the last two times they’ve faced each other, which only makes Jackson’s chip larger.Heading to the NFC, the Saints host the Chicago Bears right after the Titans-Ravens game. The Saints have dealt with injuries throughout the year to quarterback Drew Brees, wide receiver Michael Thomas and now have COVID-19 issues with running back Alvin Kamara.Brees is another aging quarterback and has been mum about his future past this year. The Saints have also suffered heart-breaking, late-game losses each of the last three years in the playoffs.The Saints are sixth in the league in points/game defensively and fifth in takeaways. The Saints do have the advantage of facing the Bears who barely made the playoffs; as well as the second seed, which means they would have a second home game should they win Sunday.Brees will have Thomas and should get Kamara back from the COVID list and will be re-loaded and ready to play. How did your preseason Super Bowl picks do and who are your picks from here on out?John Lee is the editor of The Pampa News and can be reached at email@example.com or find him on Twitter @jcl1987.