(Photo of Jaire Alexander: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)
NEW YORK - The Wild Card Round of the 2020 NFL Playoffs is now in the books, and with it, we now move onto the Divisional Round, where teams are just two wins away from reaching the Super Bowl. The round will take place this Saturday, Jan. 16 and Sunday, Jan. 17.
As you can imagine, a few former Louisville football players remain in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy. Out of the eight former Cardinals on rosters for the 14 teams that clinched playoff berths, five of them remain out of the eight teams in the Divisional Round. In fact, each of the four games this weekend features at least one former Louisville player on either team's roster:
- Jaire Alexander (Cornerback - Green Bay Packers)
- James Burgess (Outside Linebacker - Green Bay Packers)
- Sheldon Rankins (Defensive Tackle - New Orleans Saints)
- Lamar Jackson (Quarterback - Baltimore Ravens)
- Trevon Young (Defensive End - Cleveland Browns)
Offensive lineman Geron Christian & linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons of the Washington Football Team, and running back Senorise Perry of the Tennessee Titans were the trio of former Cards to get eliminated in the Wild Card round. However, it should be noted than none of the three saw the field in their respective losses to the Buccaneers and Ravens. Christian is on IR, Harvey-Clemons is on the Opt-Out list, and Perry was inactive.
Out of the five remaining former Louisville players in the playoffs, two will be seeing their first playoff action of this postseason. Cornerback Jaire Alexander & outside linebacker James Burgess had the weekend off, as their Green Bay Packers (13-3) clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC as well as a first round bye.
Alexander collected 51 total tackles (40 solo), 13 pass defenses, an interception and a sack that resulted in a safety during the regular season, and was named to both the Pro Bowl and the AP All-Pro Second Team. Burgess signed with Green Bay prior to Week 7, played in four games, and collected three solo tackles before landing on the injured reserve. It is unclear if he will make the jump to the active roster ahead of their home matchup with the Los Angeles Rams (10-6) on Saturday, Jan. 16 at 4:35 p.m. EST on FOX.
Dealing with a slew of injuries over the course of his NFL career, including an MCL injury that sidelined him for most of the month of November of this season, defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins is finally back at full health for New Orleans (12-4). He had a pair of tackles, a pair of QB hits, and a sack in the Saints’ 21-9 win over the 8-8 Chicago Bears. Collecting 20 tackles (13 solo), 3.0 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, nine QB hits, and one pass defense during the regular season, their next matchup pits them against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers (11-5) on Sunday, Jan. 17 at 6:40 on FOX. down in Tampa Bay.
The most notable Wild Card round performance from a former Louisville player undoubtedly came from quarterback Lamar Jackson. The former Heisman Trophy winner and reigning NFL MVP over came an early interception to complete 17 of his 24 pass attempts for 179 yards, while also rushing 136 yards and a touchdown, leading his Baltimore Ravens past the Tennessee Titans 20-13 in Nashville.
Not only did the victory give him the first playoff win of his career, but it avenged a heartbreaking loss from last season, when Titans marched into Baltimore and left with with a 28-12 Divisional Round victory to reach the AFC Championship.
Jackson ended the regular season with 3,762 total yards, 33 total touchdowns, and became the first quarterback to rush for over 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. The Ravens (11-5) are now set to travel to western New York take on the Buffalo Bills (13-3) on Saturday, Jan. 16 at 8:15 p.m. EST on NBC.
Unfortunately, don't anticipate seeing defensive end Trevon Young take the gridiron this upcoming weekend, as he has been on Cleveland's injured reserve with an unknown injury since July of last year. The Browns (11-5) upset the Steelers (12-4) in Pittsburgh 48-37, and will be traveling to face Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) on Sunday, Jan. 17 at 3:05 p.m. EST on CBS.
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