From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
With the turn of the calendar to 2021, it’s time to take a peek inside the mailbag.
Question: The NFL regular season was very irregular to say the least with COVID-19 jumbling up the schedule. How do you see the playoffs shaking up?
Answer: A couple of weeks ago I wrote a small segment on the Super Bowl Pick-Six, choosing the six best teams that would have the most legitimate chance to win the big game in Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 7.
After what I had witnessed, I’m going to call it the Super Bowl Fabulous Four, with the other 10 playoff teams following in line.
The four teams who are currently rolling are the Bills, Ravens, Packers and Buccaneers. They are the hottest clubs and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bills-Ravens meet in the AFC title game, and the Packers-Bucs face off in the NFC championship game.
However, don’t dismiss the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs and the Saints, who from top to bottom have the most athletic, deepest roster in the entire league. Neither squad played superbly down the stretch and one of both of them could stumble in the postseason.
These six teams — Colts, Titans, Steelers, Seahawks, Rams and the Washington Football Team — are each capable of winning at least one playoff game and some of those maybe win two. But I don’t see any of the six as a serious Super Bowl contender. Their playoff success may hinge on their ability to hide certain flaws.
Then, we look at the Browns and the Bears.
The Browns snapped a 18-year playoff drought, but unfortunately for them, they have to do a quick turnaround and play the Steelers again over seven days. Pittsburgh won’t be resting starters this week after four of their top six starters sat out this past Sunday’s loss to the Browns. The Bears are the NFL’s biggest enigma in 2020 — losing six straight games during the midseason, only the lowly Jaguars and Jets had longer skids this season — but they backed into the playoffs when the Cardinals fell to the Rams. Chicago will be a heavy underdog at New Orleans.
Here are my six-game predictions for super wild-card weekend (home team in CAPS): BILLS 28, Colts 17; Ravens 33, TITANS 26; STEELERS 24, Browns 13; SAINTS 37, Bears 14; SEAHAWKS 20, Rams 16; Bucs 24, WASHINGTON 17.
n Richie Rich’s Top 10 rankings in the NFL (Final): 1. Bills; 2. Packers; 3. Chiefs; 4. Saints; 5. Seahawks; 6. Bucs; 7. Steelers; 8. Titans; 9. Rams; 10. Colts.
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at email@example.com