1st-round teams long shots to win it all
Any and all of the eight teams playing in the NFL wild-card round of the playoffs this weekend are real longshots at winning the Super Bowl.
Each winner will have to hit the road next weekend, and in all likelihood the following weekend, just to make it to Minneapolis on the first Sunday in February.
Then they’ll have to face the best of what the other conference offers in Super Bowl LII (52 for those used to that numeric system).
Nevertheless, one team stands out to me as possibly being able to do it — the New Orleans Saints.
With the way this season has gone, there’s a good chance I’ll fall flat on my face if and when the Saints lose in the final game of this weekend early Sunday night.
Despite the long odds, there have been multiple wild-card teams that have won it all, so this isn’t a weekend to simply overlook.
The one that comes to my mind is the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, who were a No. 4 seed (there were three divisions and three wild cards then) and went all the way with a young Ray Lewis-led defense.
What I remember most about that team was that for their five games in October, they never scored a touchdown, not by its offense, its defense nor its special teams. Why is that memorable? Because they won two of those five games with scores of 12-0 and 15-10.
So do pay attention to these games, which are spread around the four major over-the-air networks:
Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs, AFC, 4:30 p.m. today, ABC and ESPN — The Titans got in the playoffs last week after beating Jacksonville, which had nothing to play for after locking up the AFC South but having no chance at a first-round bye.
Following a midseason swoon, the Chiefs are rounding back into the form that made them the last team in the league to lose a game this season.
If for no other reason than being on the road, I’m not in love with these Titans, especially without top running back DeMarco Murray out. Chiefs, 24-17.
Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams, NFC, 8:15 p.m. today, NBC — The Falcons are another road team I don’t particularly like simply because they’re away from home.
But I don’t trust the Rams with their untested playoff squad, starting with 31-year-old head coach Sean McVay. Not to say they don’t have a bright future, but they need this year under their belts to make them a better playoff team in the future. Especially if they get a win today and play at least two games in these playoffs.
Today, the Rams can carry the day with a superior performance. Rams, 26-23.
Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars, AFC, 1 p.m. Sunday, CBS — Buffalo broke the longest playoff drought in pro sports only because the Ravens couldn’t keep a mediocre Cincinnati Bengals team out of the end zone late in last Sunday’s game.
With LeSean “Shady” McCoy probably out, any chance the Bills had to break the seemingly impenetrable Jacksonville defense now seem like zilch. Jaguars, 19-10.
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints, 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Fox — Seems like the best matchup of the weekend, I suppose for no other reason than these are already division rivals, so they’re playing for the third time this season.
New Orleans won the first two matchups, a bad sign as they say how hard it is to be at a team three times in the same season. But do you trust Cam Newton at quarterback for Carolina? I don’t. Saints, 20-16.
Last week — 8-8, 50 percent. Regular season — 162-94, 63 percent.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.