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Super Wildcard Round Open Thread

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One of the few good things about this miserable period is two playoff triple-headers. We talked a lot about the games on the podcast, but to briefly recapitulate/finalize:

BUFFALO (-6.5) over Indianapolis I have already acknowledged being dead wrong about Josh Allen, but I didn’t think I would be “Josh Allen is a legitimate MVP candidate” wrong. The Bills are one of the most impressive organizations in North American pro sports right now.

SEATTLE (-3) over Los Angeles Between how well LA’s defense matches up against Seattle, Russell’s very shaky second half, and Pete’s tendency to treat double-digit leads like they would give him anaphylactic shock, I wouldn’t give more than 3 points despite the Rams starting a rando whose main selling point is that at least he isn’t the guy the Eagles have been paying $2 million a year to hold a tablet although he has no NFL attributes whatsoever. But that’s where the line ended up, so.

TOMPA BAY (-7.5) over the Dan Snyders To beat Tom Brady — speaking of legitimate MVP candidates I didn’t expect in 2020 — you need a great pass rush, and the Football Team has it. But the Bucs also have a real defense, which is a huge problem for Washington since with all due respect to Smith’s remarkable story and solid career they don’t have any QB Doug Pederson wouldn’t be happy to tank with.

One thing that came up in the pod was whether home field advantage was a thing in the age of COVID. As it happens, Nora Princiotti did the research on this:

That new world was one in which few fans were present in NFL stadiums, if any at all, due to COVID-19 safety protocols. In a normal year, Davis would not have been able to hear Rodgers’s hard count over nearly 75,000 screaming Saints fans, and he might have stayed put, potentially helping the New Orleans defense get a stop and giving Drew Brees and the offense a chance to take the lead. It has not, however, been a normal year, and the ability of savvy quarterbacks to manipulate defenses is one byproduct of 2020’s hushed stadiums. It might also be a contributing factor to a larger season-long trend: For the first time in NFL history, home teams finished below .500 this season, going 127-128-1 overall. It’s unclear how much COVID-19 contributed to the diminished success of home teams—there’s more that goes into home-field advantage than crowd noise alone—but the evidence is clear.

Interesting stuff at the link.

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