NFL: Rams, Bucs, Packers earn NFC upside down win
Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers led the comeback wins and the Los Angeles Rams dominated Russell Wilson and the Broncos.
It was a jubilant Christmas for the Buccaneers, Packers and Rams as many envisioned when the schedule was released in May. The three NFC Super Bowl pre-season favorites are expected to vie for playoff kicks on Sunday.
Instead, the Rams (5-10) are trying to avoid losing the most to the defending Super Bowl champion. The Packers (7-8) need help reaching the knockout stages. The Buccaneers (7-8) lead the dreaded NFC South with a first-place game against Carolina.
While NFC was upside down, AFC lived up to expectations. Buffalo Bills (12-3) and Kansas City Chiefs (12-3) enter the season as the two favorite Super Bowl contenders, and they are 1-2 lead in the race for the number one seed. 1. Defending AFC champions Cincinnati Bengals (11-4) are third with a chance to progress when they host the Bills next Monday night.
Brady revived Tampa Bay from a 10-point deficit in the fourth inning to win overtime 19-16 in Arizona after another poor offensive performance. 45-year-old Super Bowl champion, seven two-pick picks in the third set in a row, the attack has no rhythm until it goes into late rush mode and the offensive line dries up, losing a bridge other important players.
The Buccaneers will take the championship with a win over the Panthers (6-9) on New Year’s Day. They will take the 4th seed thanks to NFC and home advantage in a wild card game against the most likely opponent, the Dallas Cowboys (11-4).
The Bucs opened the season with a 19-3 win in Dallas. These are two different teams now. If Brady and the Bucs play the way they’ve played for most of the season, the Cowboys will beat them by double digits.
Brady doesn’t seem to trust his attack, so he’s getting off the ball at a faster pace than ever and he’s shown a lack of confidence at times with his receivers.
The fouls were out of sync all season and averaged under 18 points. But the defense has strengthened and Brady has made three comeback wins in the last seven games.
The Buccaneers have a lower seed in 2020 and must win three road games in the knockout stages on their way to winning the Super Bowl in Brady’s first season in Tampa Bay. That offense is dynamic, averaging over 30 points per game.
They will need to play much better than they have shown to have a chance of winning the knockouts.
Rodgers and Packers were eliminated a few weeks ago after starting 4-8. But they have won three games in a row and can now make it to the knockout stages with two more wins plus a loss to Washington (7-7-1) or two losses to the Giants (8-6-) first).
Green Bay overcame Miami 20-10 in the second quarter on Sunday before edging out the Dolphins 16-0 the rest of the way. The defense picked up Tua Tagovailoa three times in the fourth half to help preserve a nasty 26-20 on the road.
The Packers are not the same team that has won 13 games in each of the previous three seasons. But they are starting to come together in the long run.
In 2010 when Rodgers won his only Super Bowl, the Packers made it to the knockout stages as the sixth and final seed in the NFC. They host Vikings (12-3) and Lions (7-8) in the last two games for a chance to get in.
The Rams were out of the playoff race, but Baker Mayfield made them interesting. He excelled in a 51-14 win over Denver, completing 24 of 28 238-yard passes and two touchdowns. Mayfield has led Los Angeles to two wins in three games since he joined the team two days before leading back to victory over Las Vegas on Dec.
The Rams, Buccaneers and Packers each won in the same week for the second time this season and the first since Week 2.
Despite their difficulties, Brady and Rodgers still have a chance. Do not count them until they are eliminated.