Countdown To The SuperBowl


Photography by Arwa Tahir and Jessenia Herrera

Anup Gurung, Writer

Wildcard Weekend

This year’s NFL Wildcard featured six entertaining matchups which would determine the games for the NFL’s Divisional round. Both the Packers and Chiefs were given byes as a result of their number 1 seeding in the conference. The games in action show why this round is called the Wildcard.

Colts (11-5) vs Bills (13-3)

The Colts entered Buffalo and were met with a hungry Bills team. It would be the first time the Bills entered the playoffs with a home-field advantage since 1996, and they are no stranger to defeat, having lost their 6 previous playoff games. Despite this history, Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs squeaked out a close win against Indianapolis. On the other side, the Colts were first to be eliminated from the playoffs, and their veteran quarterback, Phillip Rivers, would call his retirement shortly after. The Bills win 27-24.

Rams (10-6) vs Seahawks (12-4)

This NFC West playoff matchup proved that the Rams are still one of the top competitors in the NFL. Although the Seahawks have quarterback Russell Wilson, potential MVP, and future Hall of Famer, the Rams’ defense proved to be too much as they overwhelmed the Seahawks to give up 2 turnovers and 5 sacks. The Rams get it done, but without injuring their best players Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp. The Rams win 30-20.

Buccaneers (11-5) vs Washington (7-9)

Washington is fighting on their last legs. They have rotated through 4 quarterbacks this season, one cut off the team, two injured, and their last having only 1 professional game played prior to Sunday. Washington started the latter. Taylor Heinicke was pitted into the playoffs as Washington’s dying hope and was stopped short against Tom Brady, who proved to everybody that he still has gas in the tank. Brady made quick work of Washington’s defense which ended in a resounding victory for Tampa Bay. Hats off to Heinicke, not much can put up 23 points in the playoffs as a 4th string quarterback. The Buccaneers win 31-23.

Ravens (11-5) vs Titans (11-5)

One of the more underrated games today, accompanied by an interesting storyline. When will 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson secure his first playoff win? Can he out muscle Derrick Henry of the Titans and advance? Jackson has heard enough. He has always been praised for his ability to pass and run. So, when the Titans had intercepted Jackson, he made them pay. Jackson shuffled his way for 100+ yards passing and rushing, along with a rushing touchdown which proved enough for his first postseason victory. The Ravens win 20-13.

Bears (8-8) vs Saints (12-4)

The Bears are one of those teams that you don’t expect to get this far. Looking at their quarterback situation and coaching staff, you can’t help but wonder how they were able to face the Saints in the playoffs. Of course, they served no match for the deadly duo of Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara, who lit up the Bears defense with 3 touchdowns in total. It was a sad sight for Bears fans, but hey, you got to the playoffs with Trubisky, that alone is pretty tough. The Saints win 21-9.

Browns (11-5) vs Steelers (12-4)

Quite possibly the most entertaining matchup of the Wildcard round, one that did live up to its hype. The Browns tore up the Steelers to 35-10 at the end of the first half. But whatever halftime speech the Steelers heard must’ve helped, as Ben Roethlisberger threw for 4 touchdowns which helped rally the Steelers into striking distance. The Browns seemed to have no answer until running back Nick Chubb caught a 40-yard touchdown pass to seal the game shut. The Browns win (48-37).


Divisional Round

8 teams remain, all fighting to make it to next week. There is no room for error, win this week and your team is only 1 more game away from the Super Bowl. This feeling is what could be presumed inside of the minds of the players that took to the field this week. No team will go down without a fight.

Rams vs Packers

This game was filled with superstar matchups. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams led a number 1 offense in the Packers against the number 1 defense featuring Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. For the first quarter, both sides went at it. In the first quarter, the Rams defense held the red-hot Packers to 3 points and managed to secure 3 points themselves. However, on the very first play of the first half, running back Aaron Jones ripped the defense for a 60-yard rushing touchdown. It seems that Lambeau Field hasn’t done the Rams any favors with its near-freezing weather; temperatures the Packers are used to, but new and uncomfortable for the fair-weathered Rams. This score put the game at 16-3 for the Packers and effectively out of reach for Goff and the Rams. The Packers win 32-18.

Browns vs Chiefs

These two teams come into this game with different attitudes. The Browns, although very solid, want to improve their quarterback, Baker Mayfield, into an elite talent, and the playoffs are a good teaching ground to do so. On the other hand, quarterback Patrick Mahomes leads a Chiefs team wanting to become back-to-back champions for the first time since Tom Brady in 2004-2005. The Chiefs are in win-now mode, and they can’t be stopped. On paper, the Chiefs heavily outmatch the Browns. The Chiefs have star players all over the team. They boast the NFL’s 2018 MVP, Patrick Mahomes, arguably the best tight end in the league, Travis Kelce, and the fastest player in the league, Tyreek Hill. And that’s just the offense. The game seemed to be out of reach until Mahomes, unfortunately, suffered a concussion and was removed from the game. In came the backup Chad Henne, with a comfortable lead of 19-3. As a result, the Browns were able to rally back, however, it would be too little too late. The Chiefs managed to hold off Baker Mayfield but paid the price by jeopardizing Mahomes’ health. The Chiefs win 22-17.

Ravens vs Bills

Lamar Jackson secured his first playoff victory last week, however, it seems that the pressure of the Divisional Playoffs still seemed too much for the young quarterback. In a battle of strong defenses, neither offense could actually get going. The Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen had thrown for 1 touchdown, but it was the 101-yard interception-touchdown by Taron Johnson that helped the Bills escape with the win. The Bills look like a scary team. An offense led by Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs has few flaws, and the defense is proving to be an X-Factor in helping the team reach the Super Bowl. Now they face the Kansas City Chiefs in a battle between young, superstar, quarterbacks. The Bills win 17-3.

Buccaneers vs Saints.

The main storyline for this game would be the matchup between future Hall of Famers. Tom Brady versus Drew Brees. Both quarterbacks are up there in age, but they’re still itching to fight for another trophy to add to their collection. Ultimately, this game would prove why everyone remarks Tom Brady as the greatest of all time. Brady threw for 2 touchdowns which proved enough to ground the Saints, who suffered from the Buccaneers defense, forcing Brees to throw 3 interceptions. Brees’ strength was a question among many Saints fans. Would Brees be strong enough to keep up with Brady? Brees may be unable to fight much longer, but Brady proves to be ageless. The entire NFL watches Brees stare back at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for one last time, many of which believe that he’s ready to hang up the cleats and say goodbye. Whereas Brady, defying time itself, advances to the Conference Championship round to face another all-time great, Aaron Rodgers. The Buccaneers win 30-20.


Conference Championship

The final four. These two games determine who will play in the Super Bowl, and who will be sent home despite such a long run. Both games played will be down to the wire, as players must give all they got.

Buccaneers vs Packers

Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers match up in a game that will help cement one’s legacy over the other. The Packers are playing at home on a snow day, but that doesn’t mean Brady will be slowed down. Brady dominates in the playoffs, but Aaron Rodgers is ready to prove himself and chase after another ring. As many had predicted, Brady and Rodgers went at it, and although he had 3 interceptions, Tom Brady held a lead for the majority of the game. The Buccaneers would seem to have the game sealed, but nobody must count out Aaron Rodgers, who is notorious for game-winning drives and plays. However, the Packers fell short, as a questionable field slowed their momentum, vanishing all hopes of a comeback and a shot at the Super Bowl trophy. Rodgers was unsuccessful at outgunning Brady even with a number 1 offense at his disposal. The Buccaneers win 31-26.

Bills vs Chiefs

Two young, bright quarterbacks duke it out in a game where defense is hard to come by. Buffalo held a 9-0 lead in the first quarter, but Mahomes worked his magic and piled up 21 points in the next 15 minutes. The Chiefs’ offense is unfair. Receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce combined for 290 yards and 2 touchdowns. Whereas the Chiefs’ rushing attack piled on 2 more touchdowns. Josh Allen threw for 2 touchdowns as well, but it was insignificant compared to the attack Mahomes had led out. The Chiefs win 38-24.

The Super Bowl is set. Brady versus Mahomes. The greatest of all-time versus the face of the future. Both teams must play at their best, as no team can rely on either defense or offense alone. Will Brady’s experience and knowledge help him carve up the Chiefs or will Mahomes’ arm strength and skill overwhelm the Buccaneers? It’s a battle between the best quarterbacks in the NFL and a game you don’t want to miss.


Super Bowl

The time has finally arrived in the NFL. The game declares the best football team in the league. Both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs have fought their way to this position, withstanding a season full of ups and downs, all gearing up for the most important game of their lives.

Let’s take a look at both teams.

The Buccaneers are led by Tom Brady, who has proven to be ageless, always finding a way to astonish the competition at every level. No challenge is hard for him. He may not be the strongest or the fastest, but his experience, throwing accuracy, and competitiveness are more than enough to prove why he’s the greatest. He enters with a Buccaneers team that is known to be physical. Receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin with tight end Rob Gronkowski make up one of the NFL’s toughest offensive cores. On the defensive side, the Buccaneers are anchored by star linebacker Lavonte David, who effectively stops any ball carrier in his path. The Buccaneers entered the NFL playoffs as the best all-around team, boasting star players on both sides of the football. The Chiefs march back into the Super Bowl, in efforts to claim a back-to-back victory and cement themselves as the best team for years to come. Patrick Mahomes leads as a quarterback and the best improviser in the league today. Mahomes throws with incredible accuracy and arm strength, and if that weren’t enough, he’s fully capable of escaping tackles and completing passes in the most desperate of situations. Alongside Mahomes is the fastest player in the NFL, Tyreek Hill, and the best tight end in the league, Travis Kelce, who despite his size, runs and has footwork parallel to those of a speedy wide receiver. The Chiefs, however, don’t have a dependent defense. This has been a big flaw of the Chiefs for a few years, so much that the majority of games would end in an offensive shootout. That doesn’t mean that their defense is non-existent. Tyran Mathieu has proven to be a top-five safety in the league, known for his universal coverage and elite awareness. However, 1 man cannot anchor the defense, and that would prove to be the Chiefs’ Achilles heel.

The big game started off with both sides holding their own. Neither offense could get going; Chiefs receivers had a hard time holding on to the ball and the Bucs played a conservative first quarter. Up until the second quarter did the game start to take off, and it was ugly. The Chiefs defense was exposed by Brady as the Bucs tacked up 21 points. The defense’s undisciplined play and weakness gave up tons of points left to be answered. Mahomes and the offense had their troubles too. He found himself scrambling around the field, avoiding defenders and forcing passes since his offensive line couldn’t keep up. It was 21-6 at the half and the Bucs found themselves to be smooth sailing. The game would end up being an embarrassing loss for the Chiefs. It felt as if Mahomes were the only one on the team wanting to win. He had frequently put his body on the line just for his teammates to drop passes or blow coverage against the Bucs’ receivers. What was the best offense in the league had failed to produce a single touchdown in a disappointing effort on the biggest stage? As for the Buccaneers, Tom Brady acquired his seventh Super Bowl championship and fifth Super Bowl MVP. This game proved to many that Brady has cemented himself as the greatest of all time. In the end, nobody can stop Brady, and he doesn’t show signs of slowing down himself.