Preview: Experience versus youth set to be Divisional Round narrative

Two Quarterbacks over the age of 40 face off against each other in the NFC, while the AFC average age of QB’s is 24.

Wildcard weekend lived up to its promise and expectation of high octane, high drama football. The Rams pulled off a victory against the Seahawks despite playing a QB with only one functional thumb. The Buccaneers saw off Washington despite a spirited effort from fourth-string rookie Tyler Heinicke and the Cleveland Browns shocked the world, defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in an upset win for their first playoff win in over 18 years.

The results of last week’s first-ever Super Wildcard Weekend have set up some equally mouth-watering fixtures for the Divisional Round weekend. Four games spread out over the course of the weekend will determine who plays in the Championship games a week from now.

The Jared Goff led LA Rams will travel to the number one seed Green Bay Packers to face off against Aaron Rodgers and co. The Packers enjoyed a bye week while the Rams came through Seattle with some minor injuries to contend with. This game will be a well-rounded, back and forth affair with both offenses possessing a quick-strike ability which means they can never be counted out of games until the clock hits triple zero.

The Rams defensive front, going up against a patchwork Packers line will prove to be an entertaining and crucial matchup. Perhaps, however, the most speculated and talked about matchup in advance of this game will be played on the outside. Davante Adams, the Packers star wide receiver, will be facing off against the Rams lockdown corner Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey has been making a habit of shutting down number one receivers all over the league but many are expecting the challenge against Adams to prove tougher than most.

In what is a huge weekend for the 2018 draft class, two of its more successful members go head to head this weekend. Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson will be looking to advance their sides to the AFC Championship Game in what will be personal career bests in terms of playoff runs. Both of these offenses unique and have their own true identity stamp.

The Ravens run first, read-option philosophy has come back to life in the last month or so and Lamar Jackson looks to be finding his MVP level form again. Stefon Diggs and Josh Allen are the Bills offense – their chemistry and ingenuity as a duo allow them to score from all areas of the field. Expect this game to be high scoring, end to end nonstop action with the winner being the team that bends but doesn’t break on defense.

Cleveland – home of the Dog Pound. A franchise that has rose from the ashes of perpetual losing and mediocre purgatory. The great success story of the 2021 season – regardless of the outcome this weekend. Baker Mayfield, who was the first overall pick in the aforementioned 2018 draft, leads his Browns into the teeth of the storm in Arrowhead to face the Chiefs. Last season’s winners taking on the long time losers of the league will provide the perfect cocktail for entertaining football. The Chiefs are expected to win this game but the spirit and the belief of the Browns can never be underestimated.

The final game of the week is an NFC South Divisional Round showdown. Tom Brady and Drew Brees, two of the greatest to ever play the game, going head to head for the right to play in the NFC Championship game. With a combined career total of over 100 miles of passing yardage, expect nothing less as this game could very well turn into an aerial bombardment. The Saints swept the Bucs in the regular season, including a 38-3 beat down in the Superdome. This game promises to be closer and has the potential to be the game of the year if both sides are playing at a 100 percent level.

We are two games out from the Super Bowl, the season is drawing to a finish and football is nearly shelved again until September. These next few weeks of games ought to be the most entertaining yet and we as fans should appreciate them while they are here. COVID threatened to take football from us completely but the league persevered and now we are on the cusp of the grandest show of them all.


Michael Lavery writes on behalf of the Irish NFL Show who are in partnership with Pundit Arena. Tune into their Sunday, Monday and Thursday shows every week on Facebook.