We’ve reached the 2020 NFL playoffs, and there are six games to break down. Here’s all you need to know about each of the upcoming matchups.
Best mismatch for Colts: Run, run and run again. Jonathan Taylor is having a great rookie year, rushing for 741 yards and seven touchdowns over the regular season’s final six games. Buffalo ranks a pedestrian T-22nd in giving up 4.6 yards per rush.
If Indy is going to win, Taylor needs to help the Colts maintain possession while limiting Buffalo’s chances to strike.
Best mismatch for Bills: Go deep. Indianapolis has a good defense, but it gives up air yardage. The Colts have allowed 2,546 such yards, ranking seventh-worst in the league this season. Josh Allen has a huge arm and the weapons to take advantage in Isaiah McKenzie, Stefon Diggs and John Brown.
If Buffalo can get a two-score (or more) lead, the Bills can then worry less about Indianapolis’ ground attack.
Stat to know: Buffalo has outscored its last six opponents by a 229-110 margin.
Best mismatch for Rams: Take away the pass. Russell Wilson is a future Hall of Famer, but after a white-hot start, he’s tailed off. Seattle ranks 13th in yards per attempt (7.5) and Wilson has only 14 touchdown passes in his last nine games.
Los Angeles ranks best in air yards and yards per attempt (6.2) against. Additionally, Jalen Ramsey has proven able to take D.K. Metcalf out of a game.
Best mismatch for Seahawks: Create havoc. Whether Jared Goff or John Wolford starts under center for Los Angeles, the Seahawks must get pressure. After starting slow, Seattle’s defense stepped up and amassed 46 sacks to rank seventh in the league.
Considering Goff’s struggles with pressure and Wolford’s inexperience, look for the trio of Jamal Adams, Jarran Reed and Carlos Dunlap — who combined for 21 sacks in 2020 — to cause problems.
Stat to know: Los Angeles allows the fewest yards per drive (24.6).
Best mismatch for Buccaneers: No running. Tampa Bay checks in first in yards allowed per carry (3.6) while Washington’s offense is 28th (4.0) in the same metric. If the Buccaneers can choke off the run, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles can blitz with impunity.
Best mismatch for Football Team: Pressure, pressure, pressure. Washington ranks T-4th in pressure rate (25.6%) and sixth in sacks (47). If the Football Team is going to pull an upset, it starts and ends with their five former first-round picks hitting Tom Brady early and often.
Stat to know: The Buccaneers blitz 39 percent of snaps, fifth-most in football.
Best mismatch for Ravens: Stay on the field. Baltimore ranks fourth in third-down offense (48.8%) while Tennessee is easily the worst on third down defensively (51.9%). If the Titans allow Lamar Jackson and the running backs to churn out long drives, Tennessee’s prolific offense is in trouble.
Best mismatch for Titans: Pound the rock. Baltimore ranks T-22nd against the run on yards per carry (4.6). In Week 17, Derrick Henry became the eighth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. Sometimes it’s simple. Let Henry roll and have Ryan Tannehill hit on play-action to A.J. Brown and Corey Davis.
Stat to know: Tennessee has the third-worst red zone defense (69.2%) in the NFL.
Best mismatch for Bears: Aging wonder. Drew Brees is a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, but he’s not playing like one. Since returning from rib and lung injuries in Week 15, he’s been poor with two games of less than 7.0 yards per attempt and another with two interceptions.
Chicago’s defense needs to pressure Brees with edge rushers Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd, forcing some interceptable passes.
Best mismatch for Saints: Stop right there. New Orleans’ defense is T-4th in yards per play against (5.0). The Saints will face the 26th-ranked offense in that regard as Chicago averages 5.1 yards per play.
The Bears desperately need David Montgomery to allow Mitchell Trubisky to stay on schedule with short throws against the ferocious pass rush of Cam Jordan and Trey Hendrickson.
Stat to know: The Saints have rushed for a league-high 30 touchdowns.
Best mismatch for Browns: Stay on schedule. Cleveland is third in rushing yardage and fifth in yards per carry (4.8). To beat Pittsburgh, which ranks T-12th defensively in the metric (4.3), Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb must control the game and give Baker Mayfield play-action shots.
Best mismatch for Steelers: COVID. Let’s keep it real. Cleveland head coach Kevin Stefanski will miss Sunday’s game along with guard Joel Bitonio and others. It’s a massive pair of blows for the Browns, who are making their first playoff appearance since 2002.
Stat to know: Pittsburgh ranks 32nd in yards per completion (9.6).