Ravens, Chiefs vying for Patriots’ crown | NFL | Journal Gazette

Ravens, Chiefs vying for Patriots' crown | NFL | Journal Gazette

Tom Brady and the defending champion New England Patriots don’t get their traditional bye week to relaxation, loosen up and recharge.

Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens earned the AFC’s prime seed for the primary time for the reason that present playoff format was adopted in 1990.

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs earned the No. 2 seed, a vacation present from the Patriots, whose beautiful 27-24 loss to Miami at dwelling final weekend despatched New England into the wild-card spherical for the primary time in a decade.

The Brady-led Patriots have by no means reached the Tremendous Bowl whereas taking part in within the wild-card spherical. The Patriots play host to the Tennessee Titans on Saturday and the Buffalo Payments go to the Houston Texans to kick off wild-card weekend.

1. Baltimore Ravens (14-2)

AP Professional32 Rating: No. 1.

Final Lombardi: Tremendous Bowl 47, 34-31 over San Francisco on Feb.1, 2013.

Yea: The Ravens have been nearly unstoppable on offense and exceedingly stingy on protection, a mixture has produced 12 straight victories. Not solely did Jackson set an NFL single-season report for yards dashing by a QB, however he additionally threw 36 TD passes. Baltimore is 19-Three with Jackson as a starter throughout the common season, together with 13-2 this 12 months.

Nay: Baltimore prefers any opponent aside from the Chiefs, who’ve overwhelmed Jackson and the Ravens twice prior to now two seasons. Ok.C. prevailed in OT final 12 months when Mahomes threw for 377 yards, and 28-20 on Sept. 22. Baltimore also needs to be cautious of Buffalo, which restricted Jackson to 40 yards dashing and 145 yards by the air in a 24-17 Ravens triumph on Dec. 8. 

2. Kansas Metropolis Chiefs (12-4)

AP Professional32 Rating: No. 4.

Final Lombardi: Tremendous Bowl 4, 23-7 over Minnesota on Jan. 11, 1970.

Yea: The Chiefs’ largest power the previous couple of years has been their offense, led by reigning league MVP Mahomes and with a gaggle of high-powered playmakers together with TE Travis Kelce, WRs Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins and RB Damien Williams. However their rising protection could also be much more essential to postseason success.

Nay: The Chiefs’ largest weak point is their secondary, the place the lack of security Juan Thornhill to a season-ending ACL tear towards the Chargers leaves a giant void within the again finish.

3. New England Patriots (12-4)

AP Professional32 Rating: No. 7.

Final Lombardi: Tremendous Bowl 53, 13-Three over Los Angeles Rams on Feb. 3, 2019.

Yea: One of many surprises of the 2019 season was how inconsistent the Patriots have been on offense as Brady relied closely on veteran Julian Edelman whereas making an attempt to work with a gaggle of younger receivers. However New England nonetheless has a shot to make it again to its fourth consecutive Tremendous Bowl due to a protection that allowed a league-low 14.1 factors per sport. CB Stephon Gilmore leads a protection that had 38 takeaways and makes New England a really robust out.

Nay: Brady topped 4,000 yards passing for the 11th time, however the six-time champion confirmed indicators of slowing down at age 42. The Patriots scored on simply half of their crimson zone alternatives, which was 26th within the NFL, and Brady’s 60.8% completion price was his lowest since 2013. In contrast to in years previous, New England is not outfitted for a shootout within the playoffs.

4. Houston Texans (10-6)

AP Professional32 Rating: No. 10.

No Lombardis.

Yea: The Texans are solely nearly as good as QB Deshaun Watson. He is proven a penchant for arising large in huge video games however wasn’t nice in his playoff debut final 12 months. Watson threw 26 TD passes this season.

Nay: Houston’s secondary has struggled all season and the Texans rank 29th within the NFL by giving up 267.2 yards passing a sport. Houston has did not develop a constant move rush, which has added to the woes within the secondary. Nonetheless, this might enhance within the postseason with the anticipated return of star J.J. Watt from a torn chest muscle.

5. Buffalo Payments (10-6)

AP Professional32 Rating: No. 9.

No Lombardis.

Yea: The Payments are at their greatest when second-year QB Josh Allen does not drive throws. Allen is 10-1 general when making an attempt 29 or fewer passes and 8-2 when not committing a turnover in a sport he begins and finishes.

Nay: Though Allen has 5 wins this season with the Payments tied or trailing within the fourth quarter, he is additionally struggled in crunch time. Buffalo’s losses to the Ravens and Patriots have been determined within the closing two minutes, with Allen misfiring passes on fourth down within the crimson zone.

6. Tennessee Titans (9-7)

AP Professional32 Rating: No. 12.

No Lombardis.

Yea: The Titans are harmful if Professional Bowl RB Derrick Henry retains operating just like the NFL dashing chief with 1,540 yards in 15 video games. Henry is why Tennessee’s play-action menace is so efficient, and QB Ryan Tannehill has proven pinpoint accuracy, main the NFL in each passer ranking at 117.5 and 9.59 yards per move try. That is how Tennessee has averaged 30.Four factors in Tannehill’s 10 begins.

Nay: The Titans began out holding opponents to 20 or fewer factors in every of their first seven video games and ended up doing that in 10 video games general. However the secondary misplaced CB Malcolm Butler to a damaged wrist on Nov. 3, and CB Adoree’ Jackson has missed a month with an injured foot. If a sport comes right down to a discipline aim, the Titans are on their fourth totally different kicker, Greg Joseph. who’s good on additional factors however hasn’t tried a discipline aim in two video games.

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