*AFC-NFC Championship Games (2020 Season)

Well, folks, Martin Mayhew is our new GM. It’s full circle for Mayhew; He was part of Washington’s 1991 Super Bowl Championship team as a player and got his start as an executive working as an intern in Washington’s personnel department.

Mayhew’s previous General Manager job was with the Detroit Lions. His track record as the GM in Detroit was mixed with some hits and misses here and there. Drafting Matthew Stafford was the highlight of his time with the Lions, but he was also part of Detroit’s 0-16 disaster season.

Marty Hurney also returns home to the DC area as the executive vice president of football for player personnel.

Hurney was for many years a sportswriter for that rag of a newspaper called the Washington Times. Hurney’s first NFL job was with Washington; he was hired in 1989 during the Gibbs-Cooke era as director of public relations. Eventually, he followed Bobby Beathard to San Diego, where he learned the ins and outs of salary caps and player contracts. Hurney’s time in Carolina as GM has been well-documented, and his most notable move there was drafting Cam Newton.

I’m excited about these two additions; They both have a strong connection to this team and its glory days. I am looking forward to their first draft class. 

I still think that getting Matthew Stafford or Deshaun Watson will be too expensive. 

There is no official word on Kyle Smith and his current status or what his role will be under this new front-office structure. I hope they figure out a way to keep him here; I like what he has done rebuilding our roster without Bruce Allen around. 

Washington’s historical promotion of Jennifer King as the first Black woman to be a full-time offensive assistant in the NFL is exceptional.

Our old buddy Dwayne Haskins joined the Steelers on a one-year deal — happy he landed somewhere pretty fast. 

Washington has just become the first NFL team to land a sports betting license through a partnership with FanDuel. Now all the degenerate gamblers in DC and VA can officially bet games online. 

And for the Conference Championship games…..

BUCCANEERS 31 — PACKERS 26:

Tom Brady is going to his 10th Super Bowl — a game that will be played in Tampa Bay’s home turf. The road to the Super Bowl wasn’t easy. Brady and the Bucs beat my Washington Football Team, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, in their home Stadiums to get to the biggest game of the Football year… so, if Brady beats Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl, then the GOAT argument should be set in stone.

However, this next generation of Quarterbacks like Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Deshaun Watson, Justin Herbert, and newcomers like Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields might be in a good position to reach similar heights when it is all set and done for them.

I think there is a good chance Aaron Rodgers could leave Green Bay next season. San Francisco would be an ideal spot. I think the 49ers are one Quarterback away from getting back to the big game, and Jimmy G seems to be on his way out. Don’t rule out Denver also…. They have been looking for a Franchise Quarterback since Peyton Manning retired in 2015.

CHIEFS 38 — BILLS 24:

Buffalo got an early lead at 9-0, but it didn’t take long for Kansas City to start putting up points. The Bills did not establish any type of running game to slow down Kansas City. Patrick Mahomes looks like a sorcerer, sometimes making extraordinary things happen and putting his offense in scoring positions. 

The Chiefs are the reigning defending Super Bowl Champions and have an excellent chance to repeat as Champions again. This will be a blockbuster, cannot miss Super Bowl game between Tom Brady, who represents the recent past, and Patrick Mahomes, who is the present of the NFL and also represents the future. 

I’ll make my Super Bowl picks next week….

*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.

*NFL WILDCARD PLAYOFF WEEKEND (2020 Season)

This game was a lot closer than all the talking heads predicted. Washington played a solid game, taking Tampa Bay to the limit. This was a successful season for a Washington team that according to most analysts was supposed to be at the bottom of the Division. 

In his first game as a starter for Washington, Taylor Heinicke was incredible — throwing for over 300 yards with 46 yards on the ground and a gutsy rushing touchdown. He cemented himself as a legit threat for a starting spot in Washington next season. At the very least, he is a reliable number 2 QB next season.

Establishing a starting Quarterback should be priority numero uno for Washington in the offseason. A healthy Alex Smith would be ideal; however, we know that is highly unlikely. Smith has been struggling to remain healthy for most of the season. Even his mobility has been compromised due to his injury. If he is completely healthy, he should stay on the roster; if not, then it is time for Alex to retire and maybe join the front-office.

Antonio Gibson was still hurt and limped throughout most of this playoff game. A late season injury diminished his effectiveness to be the dynamic back he has proven to be. Next season, urgency should be placed on providing a complementary running back to Gibson. J.D. McKissic is a good option to keep around, but we need a more explosive option in this position. Bryce Love was supposed to be the answer but has not remained healthy for multiple seasons now. 

This was possibly Ryan Kerrigan’s last game in Washington. I would love for him to stay, and hopefully, they can figure out a contract that doesn’t jeopardize signing other younger free agents and extending some key defensive weapons. 

We should be testing the free agent Quarterback market, but we should be careful not to overspend on aging players, like in years past. This Washington team is attractive for free agents who want to be part of something special. Matthew Stafford is a great option if we intend to win now, but Detroit will probably ask for way too much. Deshaun Watson will be very expensive; mortgaging our future Draft picks to get Watson will be too costly. Cam Newton seems just about done unless he finds ways to return to form in the offseason, but I doubt it. 

Mitchell Trubisky and Dak Prescott might both be available, but I don’t want them here. Hard pass on Carson Wentz, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Nick Foles, and Jimmy G. 

I’m curious to see what we could do with Sam Darnold, Gardner Minshew, Rod Taylor, or Jacoby Brissett. 

I believe that this team will be extremely competitive next season and for many seasons to come. We are now a legit playoff team and we have the makings of a Super Bowl team. We should all expect more wins and many memorable moments for years to come. 

WFT 23 — BUCCANEERS 31:

And for the rest of the league…..

BUFFALO 27 — COLTS 24: 

The Bills are a dangerous and dynamic team, but Indianapolis kept things close. Josh Allen lived up to the hype and delivered an excellent game. Next round of the playoffs, Buffalo takes on Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. Advantage, Buffalo Bills.

The Colts seem to have found a short-term replacement for Andrew Luck in Philip Rivers. Indianapolis is only a few pieces away from making another deep playoff run like they did a few years ago under Chuck Pagano.

RAMS 30 — SEAHAWKS 20:

The LA Rams Came to this game with some questions on offense, mostly regarding the Quarterback position. John Wolford got the start for this game but was injured in the 1st quarter, prompting Jared Goff back into the lineup. Goff had been shaky and unreliable all season long, and he wasn’t very impressive here also. The Rams have many offensive weapons, but Goff is the weakest link here. LA visits Green bay for a challenging Divisional playoff game. Advantage, Green Bay Packers.     

Seattle needs to make some upgrades on offense and defense. Russell Wilson does way too much for this offense. The Seahawks need to find more options at running back and another receiving threat to complement DK Metcalf. They will be back in the playoffs next season.

SAINTS 21 — BEARS 9:

The Saints were supposed to blow out Chicago but struggled to put them away until the 4th quarter. Next for New Orleans is Tampa Bay and Tom Brady for the 3rd time this season. They swept the series and should be favorites to win again. Advantage, New Orleans Saints.

The Bears limped to the post-season and were the most unimpressive team in the playoffs. Next season, Chicago needs to move on from Trubisky and find a Quarterback to build this team around. 

BROWNS 48 — STEELERS 37:

The Browns rocked Pittsburgh from the first play of the game and never looked back. Baker Mayfield played a great game, throwing for over 300 yards and 3 TDs. Kareem Hum and Nick Chubb are the best two-punch running back combo in the NFL, and Pittsburgh could not slow them down. Cleveland goes to Arrowhead and takes on Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs for what should be an excellent game. Advantage, Kansas City Chiefs. 

After Pittsburgh got exposed on a Monday Night game loss to Washington, they went on a losing streak and struggled to finish up the season strong. There are lots of holes in Pittsburgh, and those need to be addressed urgently. Cleveland, Baltimore, and even Cincinnati should be divisional contenders next season. The Steelers have to figure out a way to keep up with the rest of the Division. Big Ben might be close to calling it a career, and the need to find his replacement should be a top priority in 2021. 

RAVENS 20 — TITANS 13:

The Ravens found a way to neutralize Derrick Henry, making the most significant difference in the outcome. Next week, Baltimore takes on the red hot Bills and Josh Allen. Advantage, Buffalo Bills.

Tennessee is very close to becoming a legit contender; they need to make some slight upgrades on both sides of the ball, and they’ll be right back in the playoffs.

*Redskins Coaching Staff and Super Bowl Prediction.

My Redskins are just about done putting together their new coaching staff under new Head Coach Ron Rivera. The hiring of Ken Zampese as the new Quarterbacks coach is a solid hire. He brings tons of experience to a position where experience is needed. Dwayne Haskins will benefit from Zampese’s experience, and an improved Quarterback play should be expected next season under the tutelage of Zampese and new offensive coordinator Scott Turner. Another highly experienced coach is John Matsko, who rejoins Rivera from their days with the Panthers. In all his years in Carolina, Matsko had consistent rushing stats, and although he has big shoes to fill taking over Bill Callahan’s position; I still feel this is a big hire for the ‘skins. We also have a new wide receivers coach in Jim Hostler, who is also rejoining Rivera from the Panthers. Hostler is another highly experienced position coach, having worked in Green Bay, Buffalo, San Francisco, Baltimore, and Carolina, to name a few. Hostler is inheriting a very young receiving corps that features the breakout wide receiver star Terry MclaurinPete Hoener is another Carolina coach making his way to the Redskins this season. Hoener will be the new Tight Ends coach, and he also brings many years of experience molding, coaching standout tight end talents like Greg Olsen, and a young Vernon Davis in San Francisco. I’m excited about all these changes to our coaching staff; it was time to bring new voices into the locker room. We have the number 2 overall pick in this upcoming 2020 NFL Draft, and we should be all in on Chase Young. He is more than just a pass rusher; He is a one in a lifetime-generational player. Young could be that missing piece that we have been missing to give our defense the boost needed to become an elite NFL defense. We need to find some corners that can contribute immediately, and some tight end depth should also be a high priority. 

Official Redskins 2020 Coaching staff.

NFC-AFC Championship Games:

49ers 37-Packers 20Raheem Mostert was unstoppable in this game, and his backstory of being cut by a bunch of teams and finding a spot in the 49ers squad is remarkable. Jimmy G threw the ball 8 times with only 6 completions, that is an insane stat. They will need to be more aggressive with the passing game against the Chiefs if they expect to win the Super Bowl. The Packers seem to be a few pieces away from getting back to the big game, especially on defense. The window for Aaron Rodgers to get back to a Super Bowl is getting smaller. Kyle Shanahan has the unique opportunity to become the first father-son Super Bowl-winning Coaches in NFL history. 

Chiefs 35-Titans 24: Tennessee looked great in the first half of this game leading 10-7 in the first quarter, but Kansas City took Derrick Henry entirely out of the game, and Ryan Tannehill struggled to get anything going on offense. The Chiefs defense has stepped up as of late and is better than the talking heads on sports media suggest. Pat Mahomes is the complete package, and he is the best young quarterback in the NFL by far. Andy Reid is back coaching in the big game after 15 years. Reid is a great coach who is getting a second chance to win a Super Bowl after losing his first Super Bowl against the Patriots in 2005 when he coached the Eagles.

My Super Bowl Prediction: 

This game is shaping up to be one of the best Super Bowl matchups in recent history, and they are both formidable teams, but unfortunately, only one will get to raise the Lombardi trophy at the end of the game. My heart says; the Chiefs should win, but my mind says; The 49ers will end up winning the whole thing.

49ers Super Bowl Champs. 

*NFL Divisional Playoffs & Redskins Coaching Moves

The Washington Panskins.

The changes continue at Redskins Park. They let Eric Shaffer go after 17 years with the Redskins. He is highly regarded when it comes to the salary cap, but a changing of the guard was needed. Coach Rivera has brought in his own guy Rob Rogers from the Panthers who also served at Carolina in a similar role managing the salary cap as Shaffer. Doug Williams was retained but under a new title of Senior Vice President of Player Development. Ken Zampese has also been hired as the new Quarterbacks coach to work under new Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner. Zampese has an impressive resume working and developing young Quarterbacks, so we’ll see what kind of impact he has on young Dwayne Haskins on this upcoming season. Special Teams Coordinator Nate Kaczor was retained, which was a no brainer since his unit was the most consistent and best-performing unit this past 2019 season. 

Kyle Smith has been promoted to Vice President of player personnel. This is a pretty big deal; Kyle will work closely with Coach Rivera as they approach the 2020 NFL Draft. It is important to note that Kyle Smith is the son of A.J. Smith, who was the San Diego Chargers General Manager during the time Rivera worked there as the defensive coordinator under Head Coach Norv Turner. All these connections are essential to get a sense of what this new regime is trying to accomplish.

And now some Divisional Playoff action:

Titans28-Ravens 12: Lamar Jackson came crashing down. The Titans and Derrick Henry took over this game and never looked back. It was the most surprising win, and nobody expected Tennessee to beat the number 1 scoring offense. Next, the Titans take on Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs, and I think the Titans playoff Cinderella run will come to an end. 

49ers 27-Vikings 10: Total domination by San Francisco. Kirk Cousins got blitz to death in this game, Cousins had better stats than Jimmy G, but they were both pretty mediocre. Next, the 49ers should be favorites against the Packers. I would love to see the 49ers vs. the Chiefs in the Superbowl. 

Chiefs 51-Texans 31: This was the most exciting game of the weekend. Houston was 21 to nothing in the first quarter, Kansas City scored seven straight Touchdowns to turn this game upside down on Houston. Patrick Mahomes‘ playmaking abilities reminded the entire world who the most dynamic young quarterback in the NFL is. Next, the Chiefs should be the favorites against the Titans to reach the SuperBowl representing the AFC. 

Packers 28-Seahawks 23: Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers looked sharp against a Seattle team that seemed to arrive at this game pretty banged up. The Packers take on the 49ers next week. A battle of former Redskins assistant coaches Kyle Shanahan and Matt LaFleur. San Francisco is a hell of a lot more dangerous and more dynamic than the Seahawks. I pick the 49ers here to end up in the Superbowl representing the NFC.