1. It is not unusual for a rookie to lose his first playoff game. That is what happened to Lamar Jackson last year when he struggled in his playoff debut against San Diego. Now he’s back in the playoffs against the Titans as the season MVP and the top seed. He says he is using last year’s showing as motivation. He says he is treating every game like the Super Bowl because a loss means he’s doesn’t make it to the big game. Now the spotlight is on Jackson to take the next step.
2. The Patrick Mahomes-Deshaun Watson playoff duel was likely destined to happen after they were both snubbed on the first round in 2017 when the Bears took Mitch Trubisky and both were picked by AFC teams. And it likely won’t their last playoff duel. The winner likely faces Lamar Jackson in the AFC title game.
3. Ryan Tannehill’s job against the Patriots was not to make any mistakes as the Titans protected a one-point lead in the second half. But that won’t be enough against the Ravens. They can’t win just running Derrick Henry. Tannehill has to make plays and put points on the board to keep up with Lamar Jackson to give the give the Titans have a shot at an upset.
4. Kirk Cousins showed last week he could win a big game and win in the playoffs. But that just leads to another big game against the 49ers. The pressure will be on him to have another big game. And the game brings back memories of two memorable playoff games the two teams had in 1987 and 1988. The Vikings won the first in an upset when, according to the book Blindside, the 49ers didn’t have a left tackle to block Chris Doleman in a game that featured Bill Walsh pulling Joe Montana for Steve Young. The next year, the 49ers did block Doleman and won.
5. Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson will duel in a battle of two quarterbacks who have won Super Bowls when the Seahawks play at Green Bay. Both are in quest of that elusive second one. One of them will advance to the NFC title game.
6. Jimmy Garoppolo once backed up Tom Brady. Now Brady is out of the playoffs and Jimmy G. has a shot at advancing to the NFC title game when he duels Kirk Cousins.