Is a Super Bowl between the 49ers and Ravens inevitable?

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Team that will be missed most in the playoffs

Seattle Seahawks they are not a good football team. But they are a amusing one. They are capable of scoring in chunks, even with a woeful offensive line. Their defense can’t take anyone down, but they’re also likely to commit a couple crucial turnovers in the half. Scan their record and they’ll come up with impressive(ish) wins against playoff opponents. They probably would have been a one-shot (the team simply had too many holes) but they have the kind of playoff formula (volatile offense; defense that forces turnovers) that could have caused an upset. boss

New Orleans Saints. The watered-down format of the playoffs means it’s unlikely that any team that didn’t make the cut would have been able to make a significant impact. So let’s go with the Saints led by the chaotic Jameis Winston, still the least serious player in the NFL and probably the best bad quarterback of all time. BAG

Atlanta Falcons. Well, at least here in Atlanta, where spirits were high when the home team was leading the NFC South (against all logic). It’s a shame we won’t see Arthur Smith go broke again, this time over reporters’ Jameis Winston-style sneaky attempts to figure out which QB will start from round to round. Alabama

Cincinnati Bengals. Their season appeared to be over when Joe Burrow was injured (again) in November, but a surprisingly enthusiastic and undrafted Jake Browning kept them competitive. Some have wondered if Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins can make any quarterback you choose to mention competitive in the playoffs. It would have been fun to find out. T.L.

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The top seeded team risks being eliminated early

Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys should not lose to the Green Bay Packers. I repeat: the Cowboys should not lose at home to the Green Bay Packers. But hey, these are the Cowboys. And it’s Mike McCarthy in a playoff scenario. We’ve seen this too often before. The Packers are peaking at the right time. Jordan Love is a true superstar. It’s as strong a schematic matchup as Dallas could have hoped for; They should pulverize Joe Barry’s hapless defense. But Green Bay can score in bunches. And if the Dallas bench starts to get restless, if they look in a bad mood, playoff games have a way of revealing the worst about a McCarthy team, even if this has been his best coaching job in years. boss

Dallas Cowboys. Dak Prescott and company have a formidable record at home, but they have done so against weak opposition. Meanwhile, Green Bay’s Jordan Love is arguably the NFL’s best quarterback over the past month with nine touchdowns against zero interceptions, while Aaron Jones has overcome an early-season mistake to rush for more than 110 yards in each of the last three games. BAG

buffalo bills. Pittsburgh has the third-highest turnover differential in the league (+11). Josh Allen threw the second-most picks (18). Don’t be surprised if the math still works out. Alabama

Detroit Lions. Detroit, of course, are not the Lions of a few years ago and should beat the Los Angeles Rams. But Dan Campbell’s decision to play Sam LaPorta in a meaningless final game of the season could backfire. The star tight end is a doubt after injuring his knee in Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Vikings and Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has been excellent this season, could be inspired by a return to town that called home for most of his career. T.L.

Remote chance of winning

Make the Detroit Lions classify as a long shot? Are there really remote possibilities? The field is as open as at any time in recent history. The Bills were in danger of missing the postseason heading into Week 18 and finished with second place in the AFC. The only giants in either conference are the Ravens and Niners. Still: The Lions feel like they’re a year or two away from being a complete team. However, they have a consistency that other contenders lack. They have a fighting defense (although insufficient) capable of generating conclusions. If Jared Goff can play clean, they have the talent to make it to the NFC title game. And from there, who knows? boss

Cleveland Brown. Led by one of the NFL’s stingiest defenses and a 38-year-old father of five at quarterback (with a 10-5 playoff record), the Browns are in the postseason for the second time in 21 years after having scored in the regular season. wins over Super Bowl fashion picks Baltimore and San Francisco. BAG

Cleveland Brown. Alabama

Not just do the Browns They have one of the best defenses in the league, although it has slowed down a bit in the last week, this is also the last time you can root for them before Deshaun Watson comes back and makes them the most toxic team in the NFL again. T.L.

Most important player of this postseason

Josh Allen, quarterback, Buffalo Bills. It’s worth reflecting on the fact that the Buffalo building was melting a month after Sean McDermott’s eccentric motivational tactics were revealed. A few weeks later, despite playing broken football, the Bills look like they have the best chance to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl outside of Baltimore. Everything will depend on Allen. Great quarterbacks can plug holes in other parts of a roster. McDermott has been training madly on the defensive side of the ball for two straight months. On offense, things continue to be up and down, depending on how Allen feels on any given day. If Allen is at his MVP best, playing within himself for stretches and saving the Superman routine for when the team needs it most, Buffalo will be as dangerous as anyone in the league’s most competitive conference. boss

Lamar Jackson, quarterback, Baltimore Ravens. The 27-year-old will be a two-time MVP after his latest regular-season masterpiece, which effectively punches his ticket to the Hall of Fame. But their mediocre playoff record of one win in four games will remain a topic of conversation until Jackson changes the conversation. It is unlikely that he will ever have better opportunities than here and now. BAG

Brock Purdy, quarterback, San Francisco 49ers. There’s no doubt now that he’s the straw that broke the camel’s back, and that the Niners’ title hopes were doomed from the moment he was eliminated from last year’s NFC championship game. There’s no reason San Francisco shouldn’t make it to the Super Bowl with him at the helm this time. Alabama

Lamar Jackson, quarterback, Baltimore Ravens. The presumptive MVP has brilliant weapons around him and a terrifying defense to maintain any lead the Ravens build. If he plays anywhere near his best, the Ravens should make the Super Bowl and stop complaining about Jackson not making the playoffs. T.L.

AFC Championship Game

Crows on bills. boss

Crows over bosses. BAG

Crows over bosses. Alabama

Browns on crows. T.L.

NFC Championship Game

49ers over Lions. boss

49ers over Lions. BAG

49ers over Lions. Alabama

Cowboys over 49ers. T.L.

Your Super Bowl champion will be…

Ravens over 49ers. If you could design a team in a lab tailor-made for this moment in the sport’s evolution, it would be the Ravens. They have created the most creative and impactful defense in the NFL. On offense, they continue to solve any puzzle that comes their way. Their offensive structure is impeccable. When he is forced to play outside of the structure, Jackson has breathed fire on any fool willing to pressure him. The only question with the Ravens all season long has been whether they would be healthy by the time the playoffs rolled around. That’s still a concern, but they’re healthy. enough to continue being at your best. The Niners are formidable. But this should be Baltimore’s year. boss

49ers over Ravens. A rematch of the Super Bowl after 11 years of preparation, only without Colin Kaepernick, without Beyoncé and (hopefully) without a power outage in the stadium that interrupted the game for 34 minutes. This time, San Francisco prevailed behind a balanced offensive attack adorned with skill-position stars (McCaffrey! Kittle! Deebo! Aiyuk!) that has managed to eclipse the voracious defense that has grabbed the headlines throughout its five years of success. . BAG

Ravens over 49ers. It’s the year of the Harbaugh brothers and Jackson’s too. In an MVP performance, he makes every team that had a chance to sign him in free agency look like fools for passing him up. Jackson dusted off the “non-quarterback” label like Steve Young – his most ardent supporter – shaking off the monkey in 1995. Alabama

Jeans on brown. The 49ers and Ravens are clearly the best teams in the NFL, but the two best teams usually aren’t. both reach the Super Bowl in a given year. So let’s say the Browns ride a hot streak from Joe Flacco and some monster performances from Myles Garrett to Las Vegas, where they are defeated by the emergence of Dak Prescott and Mike McCarthy training properly in the playoffs. T.L.

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