Not just a young man’s field: NFL Wildcard Preview and Bettor’s Guide
Los Angeles: Old guys rule. That is the message of the 2020 regular season as 2021 brings us the NFL playoffs. For the first time in NFL history, five quarterbacks age 37 or over are in the playoffs. The five oldest NFL quarterbacks are in the postseason. Between them, these signal-callers have 10 Super Bowl championships. Tom Brady has six of them. Big Ben Roethlisberger has two. Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers each have one. Philip Rivers has yet to reach the Super Bowl, but he has put up gaudy numbers in his career. Brees is the all-time passing leader, with Brady right on his heels. Brady led the only 16-0 regular season, with Rodgers and Roethlisberger each coming in with a 15-1 season.
Not one of those three seasons resulted in a championship, proving the unpredictability of the regular season.
What is known is those old players are in the league because they have achieved excellence on the field for a sustained period of time. The average NFL career is only three years. These players have all been in the league for at least 14 years. Brady is in his 21st season.
Cherish these five gridiron heroes. They may not be around for much longer. Rumors are swirling that Brees will retire after this season. Rodgers is facing pressure from draft pick Jordan Love in the same way Brett Favre was pressured by Rodgers.
Father Time is undefeated. Even the 1972 Dolphins, undefeated on the field, were defeated in life and sent to football heaven.
So as we begin this new year of 2021, be thankful for what we have.
Be thankful for our family, our friends, our loved ones, and for football. Be thankful that we are witnessing five of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game all play on the same weekend for perhaps the very last time. Old guys rule, and there is a nearly 50% chance that one of these old guys will rule the NFL 2020 season and hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
With that, here is the NFL 2020-2021 Wildcard Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by DraftKings.com and all times Eastern.
January 9, 2021, 1:00 p.m. on CBS
Indianapolis Colts (11-5) at Buffalo Bills (13-3)(-6.5) —
The Bills are a wrecking machine. They put up 56 points against a good Miami defense. It is too early to declare Josh Allen the new Jim Kelly, but this Bills team has a great quarterback in Josh Allen and a great defense. Philip Rivers will throw some interceptions. The Colts play indoors. Their offense is not built for cold Buffalo weather. Bills cover.
January 9, 2021, 4:30 p.m. on FOX
Los Angeles Rams (10-6) at Seattle Seahawks (12-4)(-5) —
Two weeks ago the Seahawks won a defensive slugfest at home over the Rams 20-9. The Seahawks defense is improving at the right time and Russell Wilson is as good as ever. Sean McVay knows the offense and Pete Carroll knows defense. On this Wildcard weekend, the real wild card is Jared Goff. Without him, the Rams have no chance. With him, the Rams can absolutely go on the road and match Seattle’s defense blow for blow. This is the playoffs. Goff will play. Aaron Donald will wreak havoc. Upset special, Rams win outright.
January 9, 2021, 8:00 p.m. on NBC
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5)(-7.5) at Washington 7-9ers (7-9) –
After 19 straight playoff seasons in New England, Brady has taken the Buccaneers to the playoffs in his first season in Tampa. Washington may not have a team name, but they have a great coach in Riverboat Ron Rivera. Washington started 2-7 but went 5-2 down the stretch to win the NFC Least. The last two teams to make the playoffs with a losing record won their games, but not this time. Giving Brady bulletin board material is not very smart. Most importantly, the No-Names lack the offensive firepower to keep up with what Bruce Arians dials up. Buccaneers cover.
January 10, 2021, 1:00 p.m. on ABC/ESPN
Baltimore Ravens (11-5)(-4.5) at Tennessee Titans (11-5) —
Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Eddie George, and Steve McNair gave us playoff games for the ages. This heated rivalry was renewed last year when the Titans went into Baltimore last year and shocked the 14-2 Ravens. Derrick Henry ran all over the vaunted Baltimore defense. Mike Vrabel and John Harbaugh both have physical teams that like to pound the rock. Baltimore enters the playoffs on a five-game winning streak. Lamar Jackson played poorly in his two playoff losses, but this is the year his experience and talent shine through. Home field has never mattered in this rivalry, and it matters even less when fans are kept away in large numbers. Ravens win but fail to cover.
January 10, 2021, 4:30 p.m. on CBS
Chicago Bears (8-8) at New Orleans Saints (12-4)(-9) —
In his very first season in New Orleans, Drew Brees led the Saints to the NFC Title Game where they lose at Chicago. Like that 2006 Bears team, the 2020 iteration has a stout defense and little offense. The Bears limped into the playoffs. The Saints are a pinball offense, but they are more balanced than ever. Alvin Kamara is insisting he will play in the game after missing last week due to COVID. With Kamara, the Saints will tear the Bears apart. Even without Kamara, Brees will just shoulder the load himself as he did for most of his tenure in the Big Easy. This game will not be competitive because the Bears lack any semblance of an offense to keep pace. Saints cover.
January 10, 2021, 8:00 p.m. on NBC
Cleveland Browns (11-5) at Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)(-4) —
The Browns are in the playoffs for the first time since 2002. In the 2002 playoffs, they went into Pittsburgh and dominated the Steeles for most of the game. Kelly Holcomb looked like a Hall of Fame with over 400 yards passing. Yet the Browns blew a 33-21 lead late and lost 36-33. The Browns have not won a playoff game since 1994. They barely beat the Steelers last week, and this was with Mike Tomlin resting Ben Roethlisberger. That was in Cleveland. This game is in Pittsburgh. Making matters worse for the Browns, Kevin Stefanski is out with COVID and will not be coaching them. The Browns are an improving team, and Pittsburgh has lost four of five since their 11-0 start. Yet without a coach, the Browns will be rudderless. Steelers cover.