The Wild Card Weekend was WILD in the first week of the postseason. Let's look at the top playoff teams in the 2021 NFL Divisional Round.
The New Orleans Saints did not come out explosive in the wild-card standoff, but their defense bullied the Chicago Bears all afternoon. In a postgame interview, LB Demario Davis reminded the media that it took time for the offense to find its rhythm. Davis shared his philosophy for defense.
“We’re a team that’s built on playing complementary football,” linebacker Demario Davis said. “Our job is to go out there and get stops. And that’s all that we’re focused on.”
The defense played a near-flawless game, only allowing the Bears one third-down conversion.
"To be successful in this game, be good at third down. You just got to play good situational football. We thought we had a good read on what they were going to do, Demario shared. We feel like we had a good handle on our game plan and what we were trying to do. And it just goes to the execution of the guys. So, it was good enough to get a win today. And that's what we were looking for."
The Saints' offense with Drew Brees started slow but found their stride. A victory over the Buccaneers will rest in the hands of attacking defense and solid offensive line performance. New Orleans set franchise records for fewest points (9) and yards (239) allowed in a playoff game in Saints' history.
If a great defense can help win a championship in the NFL, then the New Orleans Saints should log their third win game of the season against the Buccaneers.
With eight teams remaining, here are the standings for the NFL Power Rankings in the 2021 NFL Divisional Round.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (14-2-0)
The Kansas City Chiefs begin defending their Super Bowl championship this week against the Cleveland Browns after their bye week. QB Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs' offense should be dialed-in and ready to remind the NFL why they are the best in the league. Let’s see what they do against a hot Cleveland Browns team who trounced AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers 48-37.
The Kansas City Chiefs will host the Cleveland Browns at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO, on Sunday at 3:05 PM EST on CBS.
2. Green Bay Packers (13-3-0)
Aaron Rodgers proved his doubters wrong once again versus the Los Angeles Rams. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Los Angeles Rams 32-18 and earned their second consecutive trip to the NFC Championship game.
3. Buffalo Bills (13-3-0)
Buffalo’s defense became the first to give up 450-plus yards without forcing a turnover in a playoff win.
The Buffalo Bills defeated the Ravens 17-3 on Saturday night in Buffalo and move on to the AFC Championship next Sunday.
4. New Orleans Saints (12-4-0)
The Saints advance to the divisional round to face their NFC South rival Tampa Bay and QB Tom Brady. The New Orleans Saints started the playoffs on a high note by beating the Chicago Bears 21-9 in the NFC Wild-Card round. Drew Brees and company showed-out with QB Drew Brees throwing for 265 yards and 2 touchdowns. WR Deonte Harris had a career game with 7 receptions for 83 yards.
The Saints get their third opportunity to defeat Brady and the Bucs and move on to the NFC Championship game in Green Bay next Sunday.
New Orleans will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA at 5:40 PM CST on Fox.
5. Tampa Bay Bucs (11-5-0)
Tom Brady showed no signs of aging in a 31-23 win against the Washington Football Team in the Tampa Bay Bucs’ first playoff game since 2007. Brady threw for 381 yards with 2 touchdowns, and Mike Evans had a breakout game with 119 yards receiving and a touchdown.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will meet the Saints for the third time at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA, at 5:40 PM CST on Fox.
6. Cleveland Browns (11-5-0)
The Cleveland Browns delivered the biggest shock in the NFL this past weekend as they upset the Pittsburgh Steelers, 48-37. The Browns dominated Pittsburgh as they jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. NFL experts wrote-off the team for playing without their head coach.
However, they released their frustrations onto the Steelers. The NFC North rivals' contest gave the Browns their first postseason victory in 26 years. Cleveland gets rewarded by playing the Kansas City Chiefs this week, which will be their toughest test this season.
The Cleveland Browns will face the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO, on Sunday at 2:05 PM CST on CBS.
7. Baltimore Ravens (11-5-0)
Lamar Jackson finally gets his first playoff win against the Tennessee Titans, 20-13. Jackson had his MVP-type game with 136 yards rushing and a touchdown with 179 yards passing.
Unfortunately, Jackson suffered a concussion in the game and the Ravens lost to the Bills 17-3.
8. Los Angeles Rams (10-6-0)
The strength and star of the Rams’ team is the defense. The squad has only allowed 4.5 yards per play in the league. The Los Angeles Rams pulled off the upset against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, winning 30-20. The Rams had a revolving door of quarterbacks because of injuries. The good news is running back Cam Akers stepped up with 131 yards rushing and a touchdown.
The Packers' offense and defense were too hot to handle for the Rams on a frigid Green Bay afternoon and lost 32-18.