Saints News Network weekly contributor, William Carver, previews the 2021 NFL Super Wild Card Sunday's slate of football games - Ravens vs. Titans, Bears vs. Saints, and Browns vs. Steelers.
2021 NFL Super Wild Card Weekend Preview - Sunday Games
Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans, Sunday @ 12:05 PM CST
Sunday’s first game will be a divisional rematch between the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans last year.
Last year the Ravens were the division winner, and the Titans were the wild card team. They switched places this year, and the Titans will host a home playoff game.
Last year’s contest was one-sided. Tennessee won 28-17 behind Derrick Henry's legs, who ran for 30 rushes with 195 yards. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson threw for 31 for 59 with 365 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions and ran for 143 yards on 20 attempts. Jackson was the offense, but it wasn’t enough.
Fast forward to this season in week 11. The two combatants had the same result when the Titans won 30-24 with a heavy ground game. Henry rushed for 28 carries with 133 yards and one touchdown.
The Wild Card game will also be the first playoff contest with fans in attendance. So Tennessee may have a limited home-field advantage.
The Titans seem to know what it takes to stop the Ravens. Expect the same on Sunday as the Titans look to advance to another divisional round playoffs.
Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints, Sunday @ 3:40 PM CST
The Chicago Bears travel down to take on the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
These teams will be the second game of the year. New Orleans won the first game, 26-23 in Chicago. Saints kicker Wil Lutz booted the 35-yard game-winning field goal in overtime with 1:40 left to play.
The Bears finished with an 8-8 record and backed into the playoffs after losing in the season's finale to the Green Bay Packers.
Chicago will be relying on quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to lead them against one of the league's best defenses. The Saints defense has allowed only 21.1 points per game, good enough for 5th in the NFL.
The Saints activated Alvin Kamara from the reserve/COVID-19 list and will play in the game. He missed the Carolina game and hasn’t played since his six-touchdown performance on Christmas Day versus the Vikings.
They have played each other in 32 games, including the playoffs. New Orleans leads the overall series 17-15.
The last time they played each other in the playoffs was in 2007. The Bears beat the Saints 39-14 in the NFC Championship before losing in the Super Bowl to the Indianapolis Colts.
Despite Sean Payton’s ambitions of getting 50,000 fans to quarantine for their playoff game, they will have to settle with 3,500.
Fans or not, the Saints should dominate and win this game and get ready to host the Tampa Bay Buccanneers in next week's NFC Divisional round.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday @ 7:15 PM CST
The AFC North sent three teams to the playoffs this year. Two will face off one week after their season finale.
The Cleveland Browns travel to Pennsylvania for a Sunday night backyard brawl with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Last week the Browns did win that game 24-22. The Steelers didn’t start Ben Roethlisberger last week and will give the Brown's a new look this Sunday.
This AFC North war is an old rivalry that spans over 138 games. Currently, the Steelers are leading the overall series 77-60-1. Surprisingly, they have only played twice in the playoffs, with Pittsburgh winning both games.
The Browns are in a tough spot with some of the team's coaches and staff members under quarantine due to Covid-19 exposures. Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski will not be coaching the team on Sunday.
This Cleveland team has looked better than in the recent past. Their quarterback, Baker Mayfield, shows the maturity and where he has lacked in the past. Combine that with the ground game of Nick Chubb, and the Browns should give the Steelers problems.
Normally, I would’ve picked the Steelers, but after starting 10-0, they lost their next three games. They were on the verge of collapse. They were able to correct some issues and eventually winning the division but not with controversy.
Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was dancing on opposing team's logos before kickoff this season for his social media followers. His videos didn’t sit well with other teams and eventually gave the Steelers' opponents extra motivation to beat them.
Cleveland’s Covid-19 issues make this contest a tough choice. Smith-Schuster, recently told the media that the Browns were essentially ‘nameless gray faces’ and ‘the Browns is the Browns.'
Not sure if that will put the Browns over the edge, but I do know things normally do not go well for the team who talk the most before kickoff.
The Browns haven't beaten the Steelers at Heinz Field since 2003.
I believe the Browns win a close one and end the Steelers' year at home.