Whether it be fan, player or anybody in-between, if you're in any capacity invested in the Pittsburgh Steelers, you'll likely shy away from watching football going forward. That's understandable, given the nature of how Pittsburgh's season came to a screeching halt in front of a primetime audience.
While the Steelers will begin to evaluate the inner-workings of their football team and figure out what changes need to be made, the NFL looks forward to another action-packed weekend of playoff football.
Up next: The divisional round, and what a slate of interesting matchups in both conferences. We see both number one seeds Green Bay and Kansas City fresh off their bye weeks, round three of Drew Brees-Tom Brady and a match-up pitting Josh Allen/Lamar Jackson against each other.
Another week, another chance for the staff of AllSteelers to swing for the fences in our predictions. After the wildcard round, here's how the staff currently stand:
1. Noah Strackbein (5-1)
T2.Cody Flavell (4-2)
T2.Conner Deitrich (4-2)
T2. Donnie Druin (4-2)
Staff predictions for the divisional round:
#6 Los Angeles Rams at #1 Green Bay Packers
Time: 4:35 pm ET
Spread: Packers -6.5
Donnie Druin- The Rams fought hard for their wildcard victory over Seattle, yet a daunting match-up in Green Bay with some guy named Aaron Rodgers isn't boding well for L.A., regardless if Jared Goff starts or not. The Packers are equipped with weapons to either enter a track meet or grind out a tough victory, but the same can't be said for the Rams. Aaron Donald should make his presence felt like usual, but I'm of the belief that Green Bay not only has the more talented team, but better coaching as well. I'd take Green Bay every day that ends in Y.
Noah Strackbein- The question isn't whether or not the Packers will win, it's whether or not you want to take the 14+ point boost FanDuel is giving fans for Green Bay. The Rams did everything they could to walk away victorious against a Seahawks team that was as hit or miss as anyone this season. That's not the case with the Packers, who will win this one with ease.
Cody Flavell- Packers 28, Rams 10. The Packers win big in this one. The Rams can’t move the ball all that well despite scoring 30 last week. Aaron Rodgers is clearly a better option than Jared Goff and that should be a decisive factor in this one. While the Rams defense presents one of the best units in football, Rodgers and Co. seem primed to make a Super Bowl run and won’t be stopped by the Rams to get there.
Connor Deitrich- This has the potential to be a good game, but you have to go with Green Bay here. Los Angeles has the kind of team that can give the Packers problems. They have a great defensive front that can pressure Aaron Rodgers, a lockdown corner to cover Devante Adams, and a solid running game, which is Green Bay's kryptonite. But Green Bay had the best offense in the league this year, they will get theirs. I don't think I trust Jared Goff to put up enough points.
#5 Baltimore Ravens at #2 Buffalo Bills
Time: 8:15 pm ET
Spread: Bills -2
Donnie Druin- This game should be the first of many postseason battles between Lamar and Allen, and boy does this promise to be a good one. Both offenses are exciting, while both defenses have stepped up in various ways throughout the season. Similar to my prediction last week for Baltimore, I think this is a game where it comes down to the final possession. Either team could win this game given their recent form, but I'll take Buffalo at home given Allen's play as a passer compared to Jackson's, and a slight edge to Buffalo's defense over Baltimore's.
Noah Strackbein- As much as I believe Lamar Jackson and company can pull off an upset on any given week, the Bills are the second-best team in football right now (behind the Packers). Josh Allen is giving Patrick Mahomes a run for his money as the AFC's top QB, and he'll put on another show this weekend. Bills take this one but it could be close.
Cody Flavell- Bills 28, Ravens 24. Lamar Jackson shedded the winless label in the playoffs and looked fairly good doing it. That being said, I am not betting against the Bills right now. They are red hot and I picked them to oppose Green Bay in the Super Bowl. Josh Allen is using his weapons to maximize the offense and Stefon Diggs is making a case for Offensive Player of the Year. The Bills will cover and win to attain a spot in the AFC Championship game.
Connor Deitrich- Flip a coin for this one. To me, this is the most intriguing matchup that we could have gotten in the AFC playoffs. An elite rushing attack against one of the best passing offenses in the league. Stefon Diggs matching up with Humphrey and Peters, the Bills athletic and physical defensive front trying to contain Lamar Jackson and JK Dobbins. Who knows? I'll take the Ravens.
#6 Cleveland Browns at #1 Kansas City Chiefs
Time: 3:05 pm ET
Spread: Chiefs -10
Donnie Druin- A big congrats to Cleveland: They did the impossible and knocked off their bigger brother in ugly fashion. Up next are *checks notes* the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. The Browns is no longer the Browns, but I'm of the belief that the magic may have run out in Heinz Field. I don't foresee the Chiefs imploding like the Steelers did, and that's a very bad sign for any team facing Patrick Mahomes and friends. The Chiefs are favorites to win, and I'm on their side this week. You had a good run, Cleveland. Cheers.
Noah Strackbein- In the words of Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool, the Browns are going to get clapped. Cleveland did everything they needed to this postseason. They shut down the Steelers, proved to the NFL that they can win and ended the "is Baker the guy" talk. Now, they'll gracefully fall to the Chiefs, and by gracefully I mean by more than 10 points.
Cody Flavell- Chiefs 35, Browns 24. Cleveland won their first playoff game in almost two decades against the Steelers. They will be coming into this riding with a lot of momentum. Kansas City watched all of last week’s action from home so they will be well rested. If the Browns run the ball well early, the Chiefs could be on upset alert. But in all reality, the Browns aren’t quite equipped to overcome what the Chiefs will throw at them. I am taking the Chiefs quite confidently.
Connor Deitrich- The Browns could potentially give the Chiefs problems here, but Kansas City is the easy pick. Cleveland's strong run game and ability to control the trenches on both sides of the ball can keep them in the game. However, Cleveland's secondary will have circles ran around them all game. Cleveland will need to score a lot of points to win this game, and Kansas City's offense won't hand them easy scoring opportunities the way Pittsburgh did.
#5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at #2 New Orleans Saints
Time: 6:40 pm ET
Spread: Saints -3
Donnie Druin- Another divisional matchup between the Saints/Bucs should provide fireworks to end a fantastic weekend of football. While the Saints have emerged victorious over Tampa Bay in both match-ups, I'm not so convinced the Buccaneers aren't capable of winning this game. Drew Brees has looked shaky down the stretch of the season, and Tampa Bay (for my money) has the slightest edge on defense. I think I might have talked myself into picking Tampa Bay. I'll take the Buccaneers.
Noah Strackbein- When you think of this game the first thing that comes to mind is Drew Brees vs. Tom Brady. The second thing is how on any given week, either of these teams can be the league's best or worst participant. But in the postseason, you don't bet against the GOAT. Bucs take this one in what could be the most exciting matchup of the weekend.
Cody Flavell- Buccaneers 27, Saints 26. Tom Brady is motivated to prove he can still do this at a high level. A win here likely guarantees a matchup with Rodgers in the NFC Championship game. Talk about a legacy defining moment in your 40’s. Drew Brees likely will retire after the Saints bow out of the playoffs and his last NFL memory will be losing to Brady in the playoffs.
Connor Deitrich- This is a great game. New Orleans got the best of Tampa Bay twice this year, but this Tampa Bay team is better. I'll still go with the Saints though. Tampa Bay's secondary has looked very bad of late. Drew Brees might not be what he used to be, but he's still very dependable to hit open receivers on 15-20 yard routes. Michael Thomas and company should get plenty of separation in this game. The Bucs have an explosive enough offense to make this a shootout, but New Orleans will do just enough on defense to get it done.