Brady: ‘There’s only four teams left – we’re one of them’

Coming into Sunday’s game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans, the talk was about the quarterback battle between two all-time greats in Tom Brady and Drew Brees, but when it was over, the conversation was about the Buccaneers’ defense and running game. 

The Buccaneers’ defense came up with four takeaways, including three interceptions, that led to 21 points, as the Buccaneers defeated the Saints(13-5) on the road 30-20 in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. With the victory, Tampa Bay(13-5) advances to the NFC Championship Game and will travel to Green Bay to face the Packers next Sunday.

The Buccaneers were outscored 72-26 in their two losses to the Saints this season, including a 38-3 beatdown in November. However, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians is not surprised by what happened on Sunday. He thought Tampa was a much better team than they were in November.

“It’s a different football team than that week,” Arians said. “I try to tell everybody that – nobody wants to believe me. This is what we’re capable of playing. Defensively, we’ve had some rough spots at times, but we’ve had some really, really good times. This was one of the best times.”

The running game was huge for Tampa Bay on Sunday. Leonard Fournette(107 total yards, one touchdown, including 63 yards on the ground) and Ronald Jones(63 yards rushing) combined for 126 yards rushing, which is more than they had in two games combined against the Saints in the regular season. Jones was bothered by quad and hand injuries all week, but according to Fournette, he encouraged Jones to fight through the pain.

“I’m telling Ro, excuse my language, but ‘[bleep] the injury,” Fournette said. “We need you, I’m not going to lie to you – we need you.’ I’ve been in these types of games. It’s funny – we have four good running backs – Ro came in fresh; I came in fresh. I said, ‘Man, understand this – you don’t get many chances to make it to the playoffs [and] to have the run that we’re on right now.’ I’m a living example. We (the Jacksonville Jaguars) went from the AFC Championship to the next two years not even making it to the playoffs. So big congrats to Ro for fighting through the injury – a hand and a quad.”

Brady, who went 18-of-33 for 199 yards and three total touchdowns on Sunday and recorded his 32nd postseason victory, which are the most playoff wins by any player in league history, is happy to be one of the final four teams.

“The defense was incredible all game,” Brady said. “The turnovers were huge. Last time we played them, we lost the turnover [margin], minus three. Today was plus four – you’re not going to lose many games when you’re plus four. Just a great effort – they came up huge. Offensively, made some plays when we needed to. The running game was great, the line protected great up front – just a great week of prep. Really proud of our team and everything we put in to get to this point. There’s only four teams left – we’re one of them. It’s tough to get to this point, so we need a big week [and] a great week of practice. We’ve got one of the best teams in the league, obviously, in Green Bay. [They are] the top seed, Aaron [Rodgers] is playing incredible [and] they’ve got a great defense, so it’s going to be a great matchup.”

Tampa Bay did what they needed to do on Sunday, and if they can put together one more big effort next Sunday against the Packers, Brady will have a chance to play for his seventh Super Bowl title, but defeating the Pack, who Tampa Bay beat in the regular season, will be a tougher challenge for this team. Let’s see if they are up for it!

NFL announces schedule for Divisional Round next weekend

With the wild card round almost done, the NFL has announced tonight the schedule of sites, dates, and times for the Divisional Playoffs on January 16-17.

Saturday, January 16:

NFC:    4:35 PM (ET)  Los Angeles Rams (11-6) at Green Bay Packers (13-3) (FOX, FOX Deportes)

AFC:    8:15 PM (ET)  Baltimore Ravens or Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills (14-3) (NBC, Universo)

Sunday, January 17:

AFC:    3:05 PM (ET)  Cleveland Browns or Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) (CBS, CBS All Access, ESPN Deportes)

NFC:    6:40 PM (ET)  Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-5) at New Orleans Saints (13-4) (FOX, FOX Deportes)

Week 16 playoff scenarios in NFL

Two weeks left in the NFL, and at times with COVID-19 out there, many thought the NFL would not get to this point, but they have, and the playoffs are around the corner.

At this point, six out of the 14 playoff spots have been secured. In the AFC, Bills, Steelers, and Chiefs have clinched spots, while in the NFC, the Packers, Saints, and Seahawks have clinched spots. 

Who will join them?

See below the teams that can clinch playoff spots in Week 16:

AFC

CLINCHED:

Buffalo Bills – AFC East division title

Kansas City Chiefs – AFC West division title

Pittsburgh Steelers – playoff berth

CLEVELAND BROWNS (10-4) (at New York Jets (1-13), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, CBS)​

Cleveland clinches playoff berth with:

  1. CLE win + BAL loss or tie OR

  2. CLE win + MIA loss or tie OR

  3. CLE win + IND loss OR

  4. CLE tie + BAL loss OR

  5. CLE tie + MIA loss

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (10-4(at Pittsburgh (11-3), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, CBS)

Indianapolis clinches playoff berth with:

  1. IND win + BAL loss or tie OR

  2. IND win + MIA loss or tie OR

  3. IND tie + BAL loss OR

  4. IND tie + MIA loss

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (13-1) (vs. Atlanta (4-10), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)

Kansas City clinches the first-round bye with:

  1. KC win or tie OR

  2. PIT loss or tie OR

  3. BUF loss or tie OR

  4. KC clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over PIT or BUF AND clinches at least a tie in strength of victory tiebreaker over the other club

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (11-3) (vs. Indianapolis (10-4), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, CBS)

Pittsburgh clinches AFC North division title with:

  1. PIT win OR

  2. CLE loss OR

  3. PIT tie + CLE tie

TENNESSEE TITANS (10-4) (at Green Bay (11-3), Sunday night, 8:20 PM ET, NBC)

Tennessee clinches AFC South division title with:

  1. TEN win + IND loss​

Tennessee clinches playoff berth with:

  1. TEN win OR

  2. MIA loss OR

  3. BAL loss OR

  4. TEN tie + BAL tie

NFC

CLINCHED:

Green Bay Packers – NFC North division title

New Orleans Saints – playoff berth

Seattle Seahawks – playoff berth

ARIZONA CARDINALS (8-6) (vs. San Francisco (5-9), Saturday, 4:30 PM ET, Amazon)

Arizona clinches playoff berth with:

  1. ARI win + CHI loss or tie OR

  2. ARI tie + CHI loss

GREEN BAY PACKERS (11-3) (vs. Tennessee (10-4), Sunday night, 8:20 PM ET, NBC)

Green Bay clinches the first-round bye with:​

  1. GB win + SEA loss or tie OR

  2. GB tie + NO loss or tie + SEA loss or tie, as long as both NO and SEA don’t tie

LOS ANGELES RAMS (9-5) (at Seattle (10-4), Sunday, 4:25 PM ET, FOX)

Los Angeles clinches playoff berth with:

  1. LAR win or tie OR

  2. CHI loss or tie OR

  3. ARI win or tie

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (10-4) (vs. Minnesota (6-8), Friday, 4:30 PM ET, FOX/NFLN/Amazon)

New Orleans clinches NFC South division title with:

  1. NO win OR

  2. TB loss OR

  3. NO tie + TB tie

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (10-4) (vs. Los Angeles Rams (9-5), Sunday, 4:25 PM ET, FOX)

Seattle clinches NFC West division title with:

  1. SEA win

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (9-5) (at Detroit (5-9), Saturday, 1:00 PM ET, NFLN)​

Tampa Bay clinches playoff berth with:

  1. TB win or tie OR

  2. CHI loss or tie

WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (6-8) (vs. Carolina (4-10), Sunday, 4:05 PM ET, CBS)

Washington clinches NFC East division title with:

  1. WAS win + NYG loss or tie OR

  2. WAS tie + NYG loss + PHI-DAL tie

Week 13: Playoff scenarios for Chiefs, Steelers, Saints

As we enter the finals weeks of the 2020 NFL season, teams are jockeying for playoff spots in both conferences. The Chiefs and Steelers could clinch their respective divisions in Week 13, while the Saints could clinch a playoff spot.

Here are the playoff scenarios for the Steelers, Chiefs, and Saints:

AFC

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (10-1) (vs. Denver (4-7), Sunday, 8:20 PM ET, NBC)

Kansas City clinches AFC West division title with:

  1. KC win + LV loss or tie OR

  2. KC tie + LV loss

Kansas City clinches playoff berth with:

  1. KC win OR

  2. KC tie + BAL loss or tie + IND loss OR

  3. KC tie + LV tie + BAL loss or tie + IND tie OR

  4. KC tie + LV tie + MIA loss + IND loss or tie OR

  5. KC tie + LV tie + MIA loss + BAL loss or tie OR

  6. KC tie + MIA loss + BAL loss or tie + IND tie OR

  7. LV loss + BAL loss + IND loss

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (11-0) (vs. Washington (4-7), Monday, 5:00 PM ET, FOX)

Pittsburgh clinches AFC North division title with:

  1. PIT win + CLE loss + PIT clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over CLE​

Pittsburgh clinches playoff berth with:

  1. PIT win or tie OR

  2. LV loss or tie OR

  3. MIA loss or tie OR

  4. IND loss or tie

NFC

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (9-2) (at Atlanta (4-7), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)

New Orleans clinches playoff berth with:

  1. NO win + CHI loss or tie OR

  2. NO tie + CHI loss + MIN loss + SF loss or tie OR

  3. NO tie + CHI loss + MIN loss + ARI loss or tie

NFL Wild Card, Divisional playoff schedule announced

The NFL announced tonight the schedule of sites, dates and times for the National Football League Wild Card Playoffs on January 4-5 and Divisional Playoffs on January 11-12.

NFL WILD CARD PLAYOFFS

Saturday, January 4

AFC:    4:35 PM (ET)  Buffalo at Houston (ESPN, with simulcast on ABC)

AFC:    8:15 PM (ET)  Tennessee at New England (CBS)

Sunday, January 5

NFC:    1:05 PM (ET)  Minnesota at New Orleans (FOX)

NFC:    4:40 PM (ET)  Seattle at Philadelphia (NBC)

NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

Saturday, January 11

NFC:    4:35 PM (ET)  Philadelphia/Seattle/Minnesota at San Francisco (NBC)

AFC:    8:15 PM (ET)  Houston/Buffalo/Tennessee at Baltimore (CBS)

Sunday, January 12

AFC:    3:05 PM (ET)  New England/Houston/Buffalo at Kansas City (CBS)

NFC:    6:40 PM (ET)  New Orleans/Philadelphia/Seattle at Green Bay (FOX)

In the Divisional Playoffs, the division champion with the best record in each conference will host the lowest-seeded Wild Card survivor. Once teams are seeded for the playoffs, positions do not change:

American Football Conference

National Football Conference

1.

Baltimore (14-2), AFC North champion

1.

San Francisco (13-3), NFC West champion

2.

Kansas City (12-4), AFC West champion

2.

Green Bay (13-3), NFC North champion

3.

New England (12-4), AFC East champion

3.

New Orleans (13-3), NFC South champion

4.

Houston (10-6), AFC South champion

4.

Philadelphia (9-7), NFC East champion

5.

Buffalo (10-6)

5.

Seattle (11-5)

6.

Tennessee (9-7)

6.

Minnesota (10-6)

The AFC (CBS, 3:05 PM ET) and NFC (FOX, 6:40 PM ET) Championship Games will be played on Sunday, January 19.

The 2020 Pro Bowl (ESPN, with simulcast on ABC, 3:00 PM ET) will be played on Sunday, January 26, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida, and Super Bowl LIV will take place on Sunday, February 2 (FOX, 6:30 PM ET), at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

Bridgewater: ‘I’m definitely getting comfortable just with all the guys’

When Saints QB Drew Brees injured his thumb in Week 2 against the Rams, many thought New Orleans would struggle without their 12-time Pro Bowler. But, fortunately for the Saints, the defense has stepped up, special teams have stepped up, and so has their backup QB, Teddy Bridgewater.

Bridgewater, 26, is 4-0 as a starter since replacing Brees, and each week he keeps getting better. In Week 5, Bridgewater threw four touchdowns passes against Tampa Bay. On Sunday, Bridgewater was solid as the Saints were able to go on the road to defeat the Jaguars 13-6.

Against Jacksonville, the six-year veteran completed 24 of 36 passes for 240 yards and one touchdown, and more importantly, the Saints are 5-1.

“We had a couple struggles early in the game, but great teams always try to find a way to win each football game, and that’s what we were able to do today,” Bridgewater said on Sunday. “Specialists did a great job with changing the field position, defense did a great job of, you know, keeping those guys from crossing the 50, and we came home with the win.

“Like I said, great teams find a way to win football games. We knew that there was going to be a fight coming out this way, with different elements and things like that, but it feels to get back on the plane and heading back to New Orleans with a win.”

Bridgewater, who signed a one-year, $7.25 million deal with New Orleans in the offseason, is the highest-paid backup QB in football, and as the weeks go by, Bridgewater feels he is getting more and more comfortable with his teammates.

“Yeah, I’m definitely getting comfortable just with all the guys,” Bridgewater said. “Of course, we scored a little today, mainly me with some accuracy things. But overall man, these guys, we work extremely hard throughout the week just trying to continue to build that chemistry. Today, Jared(Cook) had a solid day for us, and Mike(Thomas), even Mike, had some catches. It’s good to just continue to get those guys involved, and they help this team win football games.”

In five games this season, Bridgewater has thrown for 1,089 yards with seven touchdowns and only two interceptions. Bridgewater is doing his job, and hopefully, for Saints fans, he can continue to hold down the fort until Brees returns.

 

NFL: Pass interference is now reviewable

After what we saw in last season’s NFC Championship Game, you knew what happened today was inevitable. The NFL has now made pass interference a reviewable play.

According to the NFL, any pass interference (offensive or defensive), called or not called, can be reviewed by replay. Coaches will still be allowed two challenges, and just like in previous years, if both challenges are successful, teams will get a third challenge.

Last season, in the NFC Championship Game, the Saints’ Drew Brees tried to connect with Tommylee Lewis, but before Lewis could make the reception, he was hit by the Rams’ Nickell Robey-Coleman, which appeared to be a blatant pass interference call, but no flags were thrown. This no-call caused a huge uproar and is the main reason pass interference is now a reviewable play.

Here are the following plays that can be reviewed:

ARTICLE 5. REVIEWABLE PLAYS. The Replay System will cover the following play situations:

      (a) Plays involving possession.

      (b) Plays involving touching of either the ball or the ground.

      (c) Plays governed by the goal line.

      (d) Plays governed by the boundary lines.

      (e) Plays governed by the line of scrimmage.

      (f) Plays governed by the line to gain.

      (g) Number of players on the field at the snap, even when a foul is not called.

      (h) Game administration:

            (1) Penalty enforcement.

            (2) Proper down.

            (3) Spot of a foul.

            (4) Status of the game clock.

      (i) Disqualification of a player.

      (j) Pass interference, called or not called (offensive or defensive) (See Rule 8, Section 5, Articles 1-4).

HOF Roaf on Super Bowl 53: ‘I think we gotta put an asterisk next to that one’

For some, Super Bowl 53 was not very exciting, in fact, some people were bored by what they watched in Atlanta. In a game that saw the Rams have more punts(9) than points, the Patriots would defeat Los Angeles 13-3 in the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in NFL history.

While all eyes were on the big game in Atlanta, many fans in New Orleans refused to watch because they felt jobbed by the NFL after a missed pass interference call late in the NFC title game against the Rams, and according to nola.com, last year’s Super Bowl earned a rating of 53 in New Orleans, while Super Bowl 53 earned a 26.2 rating in the “Big Easy,” which is a clear indication that Saints fans were not interested in watching.

Hall of Famer Willie Roaf, who started his career with the Saints and played nine seasons in New Orleans, thinks the Saints not playing in Super Bowl 53 took away from the game.

“I think it lost its luster,” Roaf told Paul Gant and the Go4it podcast. “I think a lot of people feel the way I feel that they don’t count it as a Super Bowl because the Saints should have been there, and the way that game was played, even made that more apparent they(Rams) shouldn’t have been there. The Rams had a great year; they stepped it up in the playoffs, but a lot of people feel the same way I feel. They’re really not thinking of counting that(Super Bowl), especially in New Orleans. You go anywhere in New Orleans, and they are not counting that as the Super Bowl. They’re not; they think the Saints got screwed out of it.”

Because the Saints were not there, Roaf believes that people should put an asterisk next to the Patriots’ victory in Super Bowl 53.

“I think we gotta put an asterisk next to that one,” Roaf added. “That’s six, but the way they won that, I think there is an asterisk next to that Super Bowl.”

Missed calls happen in the NFL, but we still have to give the Patriots their proper respect for winning Super Bowl 53. Maybe the Saints beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, but no matter how anyone feels, the Patriots are the world champs, and there is nothing we can do about it.

Listen to the interview below with Roaf at 16:50 as he talks Super Bowl 53:

 

Payton: League officials confirm missed pass interference call(VIDEO)

The New Orleans Saints will remember this NFC title game against the Rams for a long time. With the game tied at 20 late in the fourth quarter, the Saints had the ball deep in Rams’ territory. In maybe the biggest play of the game, Brees would try to connect with Tommylee Lewis, but before Lewis could make the reception, he was hit by the Rams’ Nickell Robey-Coleman, which appeared to be an obvious pass interference call, but no flags were thrown.

Ultimately, the Saints would lose to the Rams in OT 26-23. With the victory, the Rams advance to Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta.

After the game, Payton confirmed that he talked to the league office, who confirmed that pass interference should have been called.

Take a listen: