It wasn't easy, but the NFL managed to complete its regular season — with a few disruptions — during a devastating pandemic. Now it's on to the playoffs.
The league has expanded the postseason to 14 games with one bye per conference, and the playoffs begin Saturday with what the NFL is calling "Super Wild-Card Weekend."
Here's a look at this weekend's games, with capsules below.
Colts (11-5) at Bills (13-3), 1:05 p.m. ET at Bills Stadium, Orchard Park, New York; CBS or live stream on fuboTV
Rams (10-6) at Seahawks (12-4), 4:40 p.m. ET at Lumen Field, Seattle; Fox or live stream on fuboTV
Buccaneers (11-5) at Washington (7-9), 8:15 p.m. ET at FedExField, Landover, Maryland; NBC or live stream on fuboTV
Ravens (11-5) at Titans (11-5), 1:05 p.m. ET at Nissan Stadium, Nashville; ESPN and ABC or live stream on fuboTV
Bears (8-8) at Saints (12-4), 4:40 p.m. ET at Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans; CBS, Nickelodeon, Amazon Prime Video or live stream on fuboTV
Browns (11-5) at Steelers (12-4), 8:15 p.m. ET at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh; NBC, Telemundo and Peacock or live stream on fuboTV
Josh Allen and the Bills host the Colts on Saturday. (Photo: Jamie Germano, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle)
Colts at Bills
Colts’ keys: Their offense will likely be playing against Buffalo’s high-powered offense as much as against the Bills’ defense. Indianapolis has to keep up on the scoreboard. Don’t put the entire game on QB Philip Rivers’ arm; keep the Bills’ defense honest by giving it a heavy dose of RB Jonathan Taylor as well. The Colts’ defense has to get big games out of its cornerbacks. A steady pass rush would help too.
Bills’ keys: Buffalo will be smart to keep things business as usual. The Bills have won nine of their last 10 games by throwing at will. WR Stefon Diggs and QB Josh Allen will be a tough matchup. On the defensive side, the Bills need to stop the run. LBs Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano became healthier as the season rolled on, playing a major role in the Bills’ improvements.
Matchup to watch: Colts CB Rock Ya-Sin vs. Bills WR John Brown. After a few weeks on the sideline because of injury and COVID-19, Brown was back in a big way in Week 17, scoring a touchdown. Ya-Sin, who’s had his fair share of penalty troubles, will have his hands full considering everyone else on the Colts’ defense will be watching Diggs.
Betting line: According to BetMGM, the line is the Bills -6.5 and the over/under is at 51.5.
– Nick Wojton, Bills Wire
Rams at Seahawks
Rams’ keys: Coach Sean McVay said he wouldn’t announce his starter at quarterback, Jared Goff or backup John Wolford, until Saturday. Goff had thumb surgery on his throwing hand after a Week 16 loss to Seattle. Also, WR Cooper Kupp, who missed Week 17 after being on the reserve/COVID-19, was activated and will play.
Seahawks’ keys: WRs DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett both set franchise receiving records and the Seahawks will likely need big performances from them. Rams DT Aaron Donald will again be on the hunt for QB Russell Wilson. The Seahawks are crossing their fingers that S Jamal Adams will be a go despite suffering a shoulder injury in the regular-season finale; coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday it would be a game-day decision.
Matchup to watch: Seahawks QB Wilson vs. Rams’ defensive front. The Seattle O-line has taken a number of hits, leaving Wilson behind the protection of backups for the majority of the last half of the season. RT Brandon Shell, who has battled an ankle injury over the last month, is now also on the reserve/COVID 19 list after being deemed a close contact. The return of Seattle’s starters would be a boost heading into a matchup against Donald, OLB Leonard Floyd and DE Michael Brockers.
Betting line: According to BetMGM, the line is the Seahawks -3 and the over/under is at 41.5.
– Liz Mathews, Seahawks Wire
Buccaneers at Washington Football Team
Buccaneers' keys: Tom Brady and Co. are big favorites, and the Buccaneers' easiest path to victory is to just overwhelm Washington’s defensive secondary with the passing game. Using a mix of WRs Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown and TE Rob Gronkowski, plus the precision of Brady, Tampa Bay (11-5) can take advantage of an average secondary. However, with some uncertainty about the health of Evans, that could prove difficult.
WFT's keys: Washington (7-9) needs to focus primarily on getting pressure on Brady early and often, doing everything to get him out of the pocket and not allow him to survey the field. Bucs LB Devin White will not be eligible due to COVID concerns, so assuming QB Alex Smith’s leg is closer to full health, offensive coordinator Scott Turner might be able to draw up a plan that is successful enough to put points on the board.
Matchup to watch: Buccaneers QB Brady vs. Washington DE Chase Young. This matchup could just as easily be Brady versus any player on Washington’s defensive line, but the need for Washington to get pressure on him is so prevalent that it could single-handedly turn the outcome. Young has been outstanding and watching the rookie defensive end take on the game’s greatest veteran player will be must watch.
Betting line: According to BetMGM, the line is the Bucs -7.5 and the over/under is at 44.5.
— Zachary Neel, Washington Wire
Ravens at Titans
Titans’ keys: There is no secret: get the ball to 2,000-yard RB Derrick Henry. It will not only help the Titans move the chains to keep their porous defense off the field, it also will set up play-action, where QB Ryan Tannehill has immense success. Stopping the Ravens’ elite rushing attack will not be easy. The Titans have to set the edge and make sure they close up Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson’s running lanes, forcing him to use his arm to beat them.
Ravens’ keys: Their success on defense starts with stopping Henry, who has burned Baltimore twice in two seasons. However, most teams know exactly what is coming when they face the Titans yet can’t stop it anyway. As the Ravens found out in last year’s divisional playoffs, you have to get to Henry at the line of scrimmage or he becomes a wrecking ball once he gets a head of steam at the second level. On offense, the Ravens have to get their ground game going with Jackson and their stellar group of backs, but the best way to attack this Titans defense is through the air.
Matchup to watch: Ravens’ front seven vs. Titans RB Derrick Henry. The Titans beat the Ravens in last year’s playoffs despite Tannehill throwing for just 88 yards, so this matchup will be the difference between the Ravens advancing or going home again.
Betting line: According to BetMGM, the line is the Ravens -3.5 and the over/under is at 54.5.
– Mike Moraitis, Titans Wire
Bears at Saints
Bears’ keys: The defense might have to take risks, like sending seven pass rushers against six pass blockers and hoping a star-studded secondary holds up. FS Eddie Jackson must patrol the passing lanes down the seam and keep Saints receivers from running free. Up front, Chicago could get pressure without blitzing. DT Akiem Hicks has formed a terrific duo with DT Bilal Nichols next to LB Khalil Mack. But the Bears couldn’t get home consistently in a Week 8 OT loss to New Orleans. On offense, the Bears must keep pressure off QB Mitchell Trubisky and the ground game has to get tough yards when needed.
Saints’ keys: WR Michael Thomas is expected to return from injured reserve, as is WR Deonte Harris (137 return yards on punts and kickoffs in Week 8). Reuniting a future Hall of Fame quarterback (Drew Brees) with the reigning Offensive Player of the Year (Thomas) can’t be undersold. The Saints’ defense must maintain composure and not yield many penalty yards. If it can’t dictate flow, Chicago will make it pay.
Matchup to watch: Bears RB David Montgomery vs. Saints LB Demario Davis. An injury didn’t keep Montgomery out for long in Week 17 against Green Bay; he had 22 carries for 69 yards and a TD run. He had 89 yards on 21 carries against the Saints earlier this season. It falls to Davis to stop him.
Betting line: According to BetMGM, the line is the Saints -10 and the over/under is at 47.5.
– John Sigler, Saints Wire
Browns at Steelers
Browns’ keys: Cleveland must continue to establish the run with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the best bet to try to keep the pressure off QB Baker Mayfield in his first playoff start. Without using their best two pass rushers, the Steelers sacked Mayfield four times in Week 17 in Cleveland. Defensively, the Browns struggled to slow down backup QB Mason Rudolph in that game, so they will have their work cut out for them against starter Ben Roethlisberger.
Steelers’ keys: Pittsburgh gets the Browns at home with its full complement of players after resting its starters in Week 17. The Steelers’ offense dominated the Browns in Week 6. It needs to use all of their weapons in the passing game like WR Chase Claypool and TE Eric Ebron to open up the run game for RB James Conner, who topped 100 yards in the first matchup. On defense, it should pour the pressure on Mayfield and bottle up the Browns’ running game, as it did in Week 6. In the regular season, no team rushed the quarterback better than Pittsburgh, so look for the Steelers to cut loose.
Matchup to watch: Steelers LB T.J. Watt vs. Browns QB Mayfield. The Steelers were able to get pressure on Mayfield last weekend without Watt. Mayfield also took advantage of the pressure at times when they couldn’t finish the rush. This won’t be an issue for Watt.
Betting line: According to BetMGM, the line is the Steelers -6 and the over/under is at 47.5.
– Curt Popejoy, Steelers Wire
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