Five quick takes looking ahead to the NFL divisional playoff round this weekend:
1. The New Orleans Saints have the clearest path to the Super Bowl title. They are an indoor team with home field advantage in the NFC and the Super Bowl will be played indoors in Atlanta. And they beat their first foe, Philadelphia, by a 48-7 margin. But the one thing they have to worry about is the Nick Foles factor. A backup with four playoff wins on his resume as an underdog the last two years, Foles seems to have playoff magic. The Saints want to make sure he doesn’t pull one more rabbit out of the hat.
2. This is Tom Brady’s time of year. But he has looked more like an old Tom Brady this year than the Tom Brady of old. He seems to be a game manager now. But it is the playoffs when he faces the Chargers at home and he is still favored.
3. The Chargers don’t mind playing on the road because they don’t have much of a home field edge. And the storyline of this their visit to Foxboro is Gus Bradley’s defense vs. Brady. Bradley’s seven defensive back scheme handcuffed rookie Lamar Jackson, but the task against Brady is more difficult. Bradley has to find a way to put heat on him with his front four.
4. Teams are all looking for the next Sean McVay but McVay has one hole in his resume. The Rams lost their first round playoff game last year. A loss to the Cowboys in the first round this year would take some of the glitter off his resume. It is a big game for McVay’s reputation.
5. The Chiefs should have the edge at home vs. the Colts. But both the Chiefs and coach Andy Reid have a history of stubbing their toe in the playoffs. Kansas City and Reid have to prove this year is different and the Colts are playing with house money after a 1-5 start.