What to Watch for in Sunday’s N.F.L. Games

What to Watch for in Sunday’s N.F.L. Games

Sunday’s slate of N.F.L. playoff game titles capabilities the reigning Tremendous Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Kansas Metropolis, the A.F.C.’s most dominant crew in recent yrs. But in a year in which no one particular definitely pulled away as the N.F.L.’s greatest staff, this postseason could be just as unpredictable as the standard period.

The Inexperienced Bay Packers (the top N.F.C. seed) and the Tennessee Titans (the best A.F.C. seed) have a bye 7 days. But 12 other groups will experience off this weekend.

Down below is a glance at Sunday’s matchups.

All occasions are Jap.

1 p.m., Fox

The No. 2 Buccaneers (13-4) enter Sunday afternoon’s matchup at Raymond James Stadium as favorites versus the No. 7-seeded Eagles (9-8).

Tampa Bay has the experience and the weapons that could just take it far in the playoffs, but its roster enters the postseason brimming with accidents. Huge receiver Chris Godwin won’t return this year soon after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in opposition to the Saints in December. The Buccaneers launched receiver Antonio Brown amid conflict involving him and the workforce about a lingering harm from October. Mike Evans, who is 1 of quarterback Tom Brady’s top rated acquiring targets, is dealing with a lingering hamstring concern.

On defense, linebacker Shaquil Barrett, defensive again Jamel Dean, cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting and edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul have all skipped time. Linebacker Lavonte David and operating again Leonard Fournette ended up the two selected to return from the team’s wounded reserve listing and are envisioned to be recreation-time conclusions.

With injuries putting a dent in the Buccaneers’ roster, a great deal has been questioned of the 44-yr-outdated Brady, who threw for the most yards ever in his vocation this period. He led the league in passing (5,316), attempts (719) and touchdowns (43).

The Eagles enter the activity fairly healthier with a person of the ideal speeding attacks among the this weekend’s teams.

Soon after a 2-5 get started to the period, Mentor Nick Sirianni shifted to a operate-to start with offensive program that includes running back Miles Sanders. Philadelphia concluded the season with the league’s greatest rushing regular (159.7 yards for each activity). Groups also had to account for quarterback Jalen Hurts as a runner. He led the Eagles with 784 speeding yards all through the typical time.

Sanders missed the ultimate two games of the season with a hand harm but is predicted to perform on Sunday.

When Brady previous met the Eagles in the postseason — in the Tremendous Bowl for the 2017 season — Philadelphia, led by quarterback Nick Foles, bested Brady’s Patriots, 41-33.

4:30 p.m., CBS

The 49ers (10-7) were 2-4 on Oct. 24, powering the Cardinals and the Rams in a challenging N.F.C. West division. The Cowboys (12-5) were being 5-1 by then, sitting comfortably in the N.F.C. East.

San Francisco’s poor start out to the time was in element the consequence of a brutal program. Its first 6 games involved matchups in opposition to the Seahawks, the Packers, the Cardinals and the Colts. Two of those teams are in the postseason (Indianapolis skipped the playoffs following a 7 days 18 blunder towards Jacksonville). The 49ers performed themselves back into playoff competition, though. They gained 6 of their very last 8 video games and arrived back again from a 17-issue deficit to defeat the Rams previous 7 days to clinch the No. 6 seed in the N.F.C.

Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco’s quarterback, battled numerous accidents all time. A short while ago, he tore a ligament and chipped a bone in his throwing thumb, which sidelined him in 7 days 17, but he’s expected to commence Sunday.

The 49ers have a physical protection that defends the two the operate and the move properly, and they have a bevy of threats on offense. But the centerpiece of San Francisco’s offense is Deebo Samuel, who can bully teams when he’s split out extensive and when he’s in the backfield. Samuel was 2nd in the league in getting yards right after the capture and recorded about 1,400 acquiring yards (a staff superior) and more than 300 dashing yards.

When Dallas’s offense was on the same web site this period, it was one of the N.F.L.’s most fearsome units. Quarterback Dak Prescott accomplished around 80 p.c of his passes in two of the Cowboys’ initially 3 video games. In their period opener, he threw for about 400 yards and three touchdowns towards Tampa Bay. But the Cowboys’ dynamic offensive assault has vacillated involving excellent and mediocre this period.

Miscommunication among Prescott and his receivers has stifled Dallas’s offensive rhythm. Opposing defenses have in essence removed explosive performs. And a knee personal injury from Oct has confined operating back Ezekiel Elliott.

Dallas never ever gave up its spot as the prime staff in the N.F.C. East, even so. Its protection has the front-runner for the league’s Defensive Rookie of the Yr Award in linebacker Micah Parsons, and the league’s interception leader in cornerback Trevon Diggs. (The Cowboys do battle against the run and will confront a single of the league’s greatest managing groups.)

8:15 p.m., NBC

Pittsburgh (9-7-1) acquired a playoff spot with the Colts’ puzzling decline to the Jaguars and the Chargers’ extra time loss to the Raiders in Week 18. The Steelers’ present? A vacation to Arrowhead Stadium to facial area a Kansas Town crew that defeat them by 26 details in the frequent season.

Kansas Town (12-5) clinched the No. 2 seed and the A.F.C. West but may perhaps have 1 of the weakest defensive models in the postseason. Following a disastrous start to the season, Kansas City’s protection seemed to repair service by itself during an eight-game profitable streak — it gave up just 9 points in just about every of a few straight games — but the group has struggled to halt superior offenses.

The Steelers, with a banged-up veteran quarterback and an embattled offensive line, may perhaps not current the most terrifying offensive problem for Kansas Metropolis. But they could advantage from the return of their No. 1 receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was back again in practice this 7 days right after becoming put on the hurt reserve record in Oct with a shoulder injuries. Pittsburgh has a 21-day window to activate him to its roster.

Najee Harris, the Steelers’ rookie running back who experienced 1,200 speeding yards this year, is questionable for Sunday’s sport with an elbow injuries.

Kansas City expects to have receiver Tyreek Hill, who is working with a heel harm. And operating backs Darrel Williams (toe) and Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder) really should return as well.

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is 2- against the Steelers with 9 touchdown passes and no interceptions. He experienced around 200 passing yards and a few touchdowns in 7 days 16 without having one of his major targets, tight close Travis Kelce, who missed the recreation soon after failing to clear the league’s Covid-19 protocols.

Pittsburgh’s energy is its capability to get to the quarterback, thanks in substantial component to T.J. Watt, arguably the ideal move rusher in the league. The Steelers’ skill to crank out strain and disrupt Mahomes could be the vital to averting a postseason embarrassment for a workforce that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger claimed isn’t “supposed to be below.”

“We really do not have a probability,” Roethlisberger told reporters this 7 days. “So let’s go in and participate in and have enjoyable.”