*NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS (2020 Season)

The Washington Football Team is currently conducting a GM search; they are interviewing a bunch of people from different teams — 49ers VP of player personnel Martin Mayhew looks to be a strong candidate. Also, former Panthers GM Marty Hurney is at play and has a previous working relationship with Ron Rivera.

It seems like Kyle Smith is not being considered for the job. Suppose Smith doesn’t get the GM job, in that case, he should stay in some senior executive capacity; he has overseen a few successful drafts and has the pedigree to be an effective executive for us.

After hiring a GM, finding a starting Quarterback should be the next priority. Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen should stay as backups; they are both serviceable backups. A Deshaun Watson trade would be too expensive for us to pursue in terms of putting together a package of trades and draft picks. Maybe we should stick with a healthy Alex Smith and our two backups. 

As I said in last week’s NFL blog post, Washington is an attractive team for free agents who want to be part of a championship-caliber roster. The foundation is in place for something special; we just need to add some key pieces here and there. The Draft should be useful for finding some vital defensive pieces and adding wide receiver, offensive line, and running back depth. We’re drafting at 19th overall. We have one pick in the second round and two in the third…. not bad, plenty of options.

Everyone should watch the 60 minutes piece on Alex Smith…. it was an excellent piece.

And for the Divisional round of the playoffs…..

BUFFALO 17 — RAVENS 3: 

Josh Allen struggled to score until the 4th Quarter when he finally connected with Stefon Diggs to take the lead. Buffalo played excellent defense neutralizing Lamar Jackson and returning an interception for 101 yards and the game-ending touchdown. The Bills will take on the defending Super Bowl Champs in the AFC title game in a rematch from a 26-17 loss on week 6. Advantage, Kansas City Chiefs.

Lamar Jackson was having a terrible game when he had to leave the game under concussion protocol. Baltimore relies way too much on Lamar’s legs and will continue to struggle against teams that can force him to beat them by throwing. The Ravens have to build a more balanced offense to become more successful in the post-season.  

PACKERS 32 — RAMS 18:     

Aaron Rodgers has been playing at a high level for most of this season, and Green Bay looked fantastic in this game, scoring on every single Quarter against one of the best defenses in the NFL. The NFC Championship game will be held in Green Bay against Tom Brady. The Bucs destroyed Green Bay 38-10 on week 6, but this rematch will be much different. Advantage, Green Bay Packers

Jared Goff was ineffective as usual, throwing for a mere 174 yards with 1 touchdown. The Rams have to figure out how to move away from Goff next season and find a Quarterback that better fits Sean McVay’s dynamic offense. The combination of Cam Akers, Robert Woods, Van Jefferson, and Cooper Kupp with a more capable Quarterback should make for a dangerous offense in 2021.

BUCCANEERS 30 — SAINTS 20:

At age 43, Tom Brady is playing like he is 10 years younger and making Belicheater look like a hack. The Bucs have a good chance to win in Green Bay, but they have to get all their offensive weapons involved often and early. Leonard Fournette, Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, and Gronk need to get going early to have a chance. The Bucs defense has to pressure Rodgers early and remain consistent. This is not the same team that Tampa Bay embarrassed earlier in the season. If Tampa Bay gets behind in the score, Aaron Rodgers will crucify them. Advantage, Green Bay Packers.

I don’t think New Orleans took Tampa Bay too seriously for this playoff game, having swept them during the regular season. The Saints were careless with the ball, and Jared Cook made things worst. I hope this was not the final game for Drew Brees in the NFL. It wasn’t the prettiest game to end a hall of fame career — pretty sure Drew can still play for a contender next season if New Orleans decides to go with James Winston and Taysom Hill. 

CHIEFS 22 — BROWNS 17:

Kansas City was looking pretty good until Patrick Mahomes had to come out of the game with a concussion in the 3rd Quarter. It was a scary look for Mahomes when he couldn’t stand up on his own. Chad Henne, who has been around for 13 years in the NFL, came in for the last 20 minutes or so to effectively finish the game. The Chiefs will host Buffalo for the AFC Championship game and a ticket to the Super Bowl. Advantage, Kansas City Chiefs.

Cleveland got away from their two-punch running back combination early in the game. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt combined for only 19 carries — way below average to control the game and keep Mahomes on the sideline. The Browns are still loaded in offense and defense, and they should still be contenders with a healthy Odell Beckham next season.

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