Home news Abundant playoffs and big questions for AFC NFC title games - ESPN

Abundant playoffs and big questions for AFC NFC title games – ESPN

Four teams lower, there were four left for a Super Bowl title. As we did last week, we say goodbye to the four teams that lost their playoff games this weekend in true "Overreaction Monday" style. And for the remaining four teams, we try to answer one big question that they still encounter when they face their last game or two.

Jump to a team:
Chargers | Chiefs | Colts Cowboys | Eagles | Patriots Rams | Saints


Philip Rivers will never win the Super Bowl

This season's Chargers were 12-4 in the regular season – a game better than the Patriots – and 9-0 out of Los Angeles, while counting their wild-card-round victory in Baltimore. The Patriots of this season were probably understaffed and formed the beginning of some sort of decline. If Rivers Tom Brady (against whom he is now 0-8 lifelong) can not beat with the team Chargers this season, there is no reason to think he will ever do that. And he could not only beat the Patriots on Sunday, the Chargers could not even keep up close. It was an embarrassing performance on both sides of the ball by a team with one of the deepest rosters in the competition.

Graziano pronunciation: NO TRANSFER. "Never" is a very long time, but the rest of Rivers' career is probably not. He has just turned 37, and there is no guarantee that he will have a better team than the remaining two, three, four or many years before he retires.

Moreover, Brady does not seem to be retiring soon, so he will stay in the way of Rivers, even if Rivers can continue to reach the playoffs. And then there is the small issue of Patrick Mahomes, just 23 and coming out of a probable MVP season for a Chiefs team that ended in the standings for the Chargers (albeit by tiebreaker) to win the division for the second year in a row. to win. Sunday was a devastating disappointing end for a brilliant season from Chargers, and it is not an exaggerated reaction that you have to worry that they do not get a better chance to cash in than in 2018.

The Colts must sign and exchange Leon Bell for Antonio Brown

Indianapolis was one of the surprises of the season and won nine of their last 10 games of the regular season to reach the playoffs after a start of 1-5 and save the Texans in the wild-card round in Houston. It was a hyper-refurbishment project led by general manager Chris Ballard and coach Frank Reich and assisted by the return of Andrew Luck by an injury to the top echelon of NFL quarterbacks.

They left the play-offs on Saturday-evening with a loss to the top Chiefs in Kansas City, but the future looks bright and the Colts project has more 2019 cash-cap space (perhaps more than $ 120 million) than any other team in the league. They should be able to add anyone they want out of season, and the two Steelers stars are highly available. Bell becomes a free agent as soon as the new competition year starts in March and Brown's relationship with the Steelers seems to have reached a breaking point.

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Graziano pronunciation: overreaction. I actually love Bell for the Colts, although I do not expect Ballard to spend that way on a way back. And although they absolutely need help with a wide receiver, they already have a cap-charge of $ 15 million for T.Y. Hilton, who has two years left and will soon be looking for a new deal.

As much as they need help with a broad recipient, the Colts' big expenses would have to defend themselves, where this season's group performed too much and could use some reinforcements. The Colts are in a position where they can spend their money and their cap on their own young stars if they need extensions. It is not that they should not go out and seek help in a free agency; it is only that their economic conditions allow them to concentrate on building a generally deep grid, as opposed to repairing holes with flashy additions. It is good to be the Colts now.

The cowboys have to switch from Jason Garrett

Last Saturday's win at the Seahawks was only Garrett's second playoff win in eight seasons as Dallas coach, and that number stuck on two after the Cowboys lost to the Rams in LA Garrett's eight full seasons as head coach , the Cowboys have made the playoffs only three times and have not even reached any championship match for conferences. The Cowboys have not played in the Super Bowl in 23 years, which is far too long to go for a franchise that is as legendary as this one.

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Graziano pronunciation: overreaction. It is not that play-off success is not important. It is just that it is too often held up as the nothing but thing that matters. Since the start of the 2016 season – counting playoffs – there are exactly three NFL teams that have won more games than Garrett's Cowboys. They are the Patriots, Steelers and Chiefs. Garrett has had four winning seasons and has won three division titles in the past five years. The Cowboys 4-12 2015 is the only season in which Garrett is completed under .500. It's easy to understand why fans are fed up with the lack of playoff success, but Garrett has consistently put his team in position to reach the playoffs, you never hear anything about discord in the locker room, and ownership always seems to love him . I do not think he is going anywhere, and I do not think he ought to do that either.

Nick Foles has thrown his last pass as Philadelphia Eagle

Foles was 4-1 as Philadelphia starter in the past two seasons, including a Super Bowl MVP performance that lives forever in the hearts of the rabid fans of the city. But the team still believes in 2016 that Carson Wentz will be chosen for the first time as the long-term franchise quarterback. The Eagles could retrieve Foles' $ 20.5 million contract option by 2019 if they wanted to keep it backed up or if they thought they could trade it for something of value, but it's also possible wish and continue with one of the most incredible chapters in franchise history.

Graziano pronunciation: NO TRANSFER. Realistically, it does not make sense that the Eagles carry a $ 20.5 million back up, and the design choice investment in Wentz makes it unlikely they would install Foles as a starter for him. And the contract contains a mutual 2019 option, which means that even if the Eagles had picked it up with the idea of ​​trading Foles, he could find his way for $ 2 million and would probably cash in somewhere else as a free agent.

Foles was not the reason she lost Sunday – the last interception bounced back from the hands of Alshon Jeffery – but there comes a time when this casual-but-glorious second act of Foles & Eagles' career must end, and it's probably this outdoor season.


Can the defense of the Chiefs do that twice?

Top-seeded Kansas City had the 31st ranked defense in the NFL in 2018, which allows an average of 405.5 yards per game. The Chiefs were 31st against the pass and 27th against the point. On average, they allowed 26.3 points per game. But on Saturday, they kept Andrew Luck and the Colts up to 13 points (seven of which came on a blocked flight) and 263 yards of offense.

The 180 fast-moving yards that the chiefs had set up had much to do with their stunning 39-minute occupation figure of 49 seconds, but that also applied to the fact that the defense of the Chiefs carried out the best third-down attack in the competition to 0-for-9 with a third low in the game. They will be tested heavier Sunday night when the Patriots come to town, but the fact that the game is at Arrowhead Stadium will matter.

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The Chiefs actually had the sixth best-scoring defense of the home games league, allowing only 18 points per game for opposing fouls at Arrowhead (instead of 34.63 on the road). This indicates that they have a fighting opportunity for a repeat performance next week, although it might be more difficult if they reach the Super Bowl and try it on a neutral site. Regardless, Saturday's victory, the Chiefs' defense left a confident group and was quite a relief for a team and a host of fans who had not won home talks in 25 years. With the first one out of the way, the Chiefs might play loose.

Can Tom Brady and the patriots put their show on the road, where they are 3-5 this season and beat the Chiefs? Jasen Vinlove / USA TODAY Sports

Can the Patriots so dominate on the road?

The chargers were the best road team in the league and they did not even belong to the same field as the Patriots on Sunday in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The win improved New England to 9-0 at home this season, but the Pats are only 3-5 on the road, and the AFC Championship Game will be in Kansas City. The Patriots averaged 32.88 points per game at home in the regular season, but only 21.63 on the road. They were 16.63 points per game at home and 24 on the road. The completion rate of Tom Brady is 5.1 points lower on the road and his QBR is 8.2 points per lower game. Opposite quarterbacks placed a 38.9 QBR against the Patriots in Foxborough but 71.5 on the road.

They are a different team, away from home, and now they are heading for the Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs are 8-1 this season. The Patriots have not won a road playoff game since January 14, 2007 when they defeated SAN DIEGO loaders on the road. Winning away playoff games is something that is not asked very much from them during the Brady / Belichick era, but that combo is 3-4 as the visiting team in the playoffs. And the way the Patriots played on the road in this regular season raises legitimate concerns about their ability to perform Sunday's Sunday performance in K.C.

Can the Saints stop the powerful attack of the rams without it? Sheldon Rankins?

The victory sunday of the Saints was pyrrhisch, because one of their best young defenders tore the Achilles tendon early in the game and of course will not play again this season. And against a Rams-offense that rolled up 273 fast-flowing yards on 48 carriers with the tandem of Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson, that was a hole that they found difficult to fill. If the Rams could control the game on the ground as they did against Dallas (they owned the ball for 36:13), they could avoid the kind of shootout they lost in the Superdome in week 9 and win a less scoring game. It did not work for the Eagles on Sunday, but they were able to score low and had a late chance. And Philly had no back on Gurley on Sunday.

Will the inexperience of the Rams occur against Sean Payton, Drew Brees and the saints?

The Rams played the Saints hard in their week 9 loss in New Orleans, returning from 21 points down to tie the score 35-35 in the fourth quarter before Brees and the Saints left and won with 10. And they showed to the Cowboys that they can win in different ways – letting the ball run in the throats of Dallas with Gurley and Anderson instead of sending it out with Jared Goff. But this Saints group is much more seasoned in important places than that team in Dallas. Brees is the all-time leader of the league at passing yards and he and Payton have previously won a Super Bowl. The Saints went deeper into the playoffs than the Rams last season, and especially at home there is a chance that their experience advantage plays a role in what a good matchup should be. Sean McVay has just become the youngest coach to ever win an NFL playoff game and he and his team are dangerous on both sides of the ball. But Payton would certainly like to remind the world that he knew a little bit about insulting an attack before McVay appeared.


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