Bills fans flooded the Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation with donations after Andy Dalton’s last-minute touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd not only secured a Bengals win at Baltimore, but also sent the Bills to the playoffs for the first time since the 1999 season.
The Eagles and Jaguars both completed worst-to-first turnarounds this season in their respective divisions. Five of the eight division winners (Eagles, Vikings, Rams, Saints and Jaguars) finished in either third or fourth place in their divisions last year.
Swipe for Sporting News’ picks and predictions for all four wild-card playoff games this weekend.
By stepping on the pedal with Brees early, New Orleans took Carolina out of its running game, with Newton or backs Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey. Except for a late lapse in which McCaffrey sped through the defense for a 56-yard catch-and-run TD that made the game a lot closer than it needed to be in the fourth quarter, the Saints forced the Panthers to sustain long, pass-heavy drives to score. That plan worked, too, with multiple red-zone stops throughout the game.
And it’s all a bit absurd, because while surely no one is thrilled about ownership in Cleveland (and that’s not changing,) the Browns are teeming with selling points. Perhaps most importantly: They have an offensive line. A good offensive line that, if Joe Thomas is 100% healthy and Shon Coleman continues to develop, could be very good by next fall.
You’re not going to get your pretty face smashed in playing behind this line. They have the running game to carry the load early for a young QB. They also have a ton of draft picks and a ton of cap space, and they no longer have Sashi Brown trying to live out his childhood fantasy of owning every pick of a particular NFL draft (I could keep letting the clock expire and then pass myself, I’d rule the world!).
What Mariota did here is impressive, and not just because it’s fun to see a quarterback get his hands dirty and make a block. The Titans ran a zone-read option play, a common call in the college game that’s become more and more common in the NFL.