2021 NFL Divisional Playoffs game previews by Saints News Network's contributor William Carver.
Cleveland Browns vs. Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday @ 2:05 PM CST
The Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs begin their title defense on Sunday when they host the Cleveland Browns.
Cleveland is coming off a thrashing of their division rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, 48-37. They scored 28 points in the first quarter, setting a playoff record.
Cleveland was able to pull off the victory even without the leadership of head coach Kevin Stefanski. He was unavailable for that game because he was under quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. Stefanski is out of quarantine and back at the facility. He will be on the sideline on Sunday.
The Browns have some momentum after winning their first playoff game in 25 years. They will need more than the previous game's momentum if they plan on beating the Chiefs.
Browns’ running backs Nick Chubb and former Chiefs back Kareem Hunt will be tasked with controlling the clock and keeping the defense honest.
It will be challenging because the top seed in the AFC is coming off a week of rest and are primed to make the AFC championship push. There is no question that the Chiefs have arguably the best quarterback in the NFL, but their overall team is even better than last year’s champion.
The Chiefs finished with a 14-2 record after sitting all their starters for the final week of the season. So nearly most of the Chiefs starters have not lost a game since week five.
Not everyone thinks the game is a foregone conclusion. Injured Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said via Twitter, “Don't be surprised this weekend when they win, just throwing it out there now.”
Despite Beckham’s optimism, I do not see the Browns defense containing the Chiefs' offense.
This game should be fun to watch with the Chiefs putting on a “How to play football” class.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints, Sunday @ 5:40 PM CST
An NFC South rivalry continues for a third act.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to Louisiana for their second time this season to take on the New Orleans Saints. This is the final game of the week and, very well, maybe the game of the week.
New Orleans dominated the Chicago Bears for 60 minutes in their wild card matchup.
Two key Saints players returned for the wild card game, wide receiver Michael Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara.
They did not disappoint. Thomas had five catches for 73 yards and one touchdown, and Kamara had 25 touches for 116 all-purpose yards and a touchdown.
The Saints are on a three-game winning streak since losing to the Chiefs.
Tampa Bay won their wild card against the Washington Football Team 31-23.
Washington surprisingly had multiple opportunities to the tie game but could not make the big plays when needed.
Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady was looking like vintage playoff Brady. He went 22 for 40 with 381 passing yards and two touchdowns. He was not the only Buccaneer making their presence felt. Tampa Bay running back Leonard Fournette had 19 carries for 93 yards and one touchdown.
Both teams will be relying on their stars to make big plays.
New Orleans swept the Buccaneers in the regular season and looked to make it a three-game sweep. It will be a tough task because Tom Brady has never lost to the same team three times in a season.
Tampa and New Orleans have been playing each other since 1977, and this will be their first time playing each other in the playoffs.
This game will be determined by their teams' will to win, but the story that has everyone’s attention is Tom Brady versus Drew Brees.
This game features the top two quarterbacks in almost every QB career statistical category, and now an NFC Championship berth is on the line. Brees has mentioned retirement, and Brady says he can keep going.
I do not know who will win the game, but I do know the NFC South will be well represented in the championship game next week.