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NFL 2021 Playoffs Debrief & Super Bowl Prediction

(Image credit Katie Stratman/USA Today Sports)

Written by: Nicholas Mullick

Well, it is official as we now know who will be playing in Superbowl 56. The 2022 NFL playoffs have had some excellent matchups and it stinks that some teams did not advance further. Now before we get into the Super Bowl matchup let's dive into the teams that were eliminated during the NFL Playoffs.

Las Vegas Raiders

Well, this was to be expected. Despite the Dark Season, they had earlier the Bengals were just the more talented team. Despite the terrible officiating, this was a great game of football where one team had to win. Unfortunately, that team turned out to be the Las Vegas Raiders. Let's be real though just making the playoffs is extremely impressive and I have a ton of respect for the players. Especially shout out to interim head coach Rich Bisaccia did a fantastic job with coaching this team and in my opinion, should be the permanent head coach of this team no question.

Apparently, Rich Bisaccia will not be retained to coach the Raiders next season which is surprising to me. He should be able to land another job in the NFL no question. So, I wonder who the Raiders will hire as head coach? Wait, Josh McDaniels, you brought in him to coach?

New England Patriots

It was not a surprise that New England did not advance further in the playoffs but this game against the Buffalo Bills proved that there is still plenty of work for the Patriots to do in their rebuild. Especially on defense as they desperately need help on the secondary. In fact, rumors came out that Devin McCourty has considered retirement. Even if he stays McCourty is not the long-term answer.

Philadelphia Eagles

A predictable turnout for the Philadelphia Eagles as they were outmatched by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I just wish that the game was closer than it was. This showed that there is plenty of work left to go in building this defense. But the future is bright as the Eagles were not expected to make the playoffs this season, have three first-round picks to utilize in the 2022 NFL Draft, and 22.4 million dollars in the salary cap to sign players in free agency.

Dallas Cowboys

I always get annoyed with the Dallas Cowboys almost every single year. Not because of their fanbase but it is because this team always has the talent to have a deep playoff but they always fall short. Plus it is always due to coaching. Jason Garrett was not an awful coach but he should have been fired many years ago and somehow this team downgraded at coach. Yes, I know Mike McCarthey has won a Super Bowl and I can’t take that away from him. But it is easy to win a Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers at QB and ever since that Super Bowl, he declined as a coach. His tenure with the Cowboys has been a disaster especially with the awful time management, playcalling, and player management. I don’t see the Cowboys winning a Super Bowl or having a deep playoff push with McCarthey as their head coach. If it was not for his gigantic contract I would not have been shocked if the Cowboys decided to part ways with McCarthy. As for the team, I got to ask: Can the Cowboys give Dak Prescott a good offensive line? Or Give the Defense more help on secondary?

Pittsburgh Steelers

Nobody expected this team to do anything in the Playoffs. Unsurprisingly they were a team that did not advance in the playoffs. Honestly, they should not have even made the playoffs this year but thanks to the Indianapolis Colts incompetence in week 18, the Chargers falling apart in the second half of the season and the Baltimore Ravens derailed by injuries. Plus the Steelers made some incompetent moves in the offseason and during the season. Luckily Mike Tomlin is their head coach and got them through it (Yes I will admit I was wrong about Tomlin). But there are some good things that are coming out now as QB Ben Roethlisberger is retiring two years too late (He was one of the big problems with the Steelers the past few years) and defensive coordinator Keith Butler will not return next season as he will be retiring as well. Remember when years ago Keith Butler thought an injured Tyler Eifert would be dominant. The problem was Eifert was on Injured reserve at the time after suffering a brutal ankle injury. However, it is looking like GM Kevin Colbert is also retiring once the 2022 NFL Draft is over. Even though he made some incompetent moves during the offseason it is going to be a big loss for the Steelers and will be hard for them to replace. They should hire a high-ranking person for this position but knowing how this organization is run it is likely that they will promote somebody from within to replace.

Arizona Cardinals

What a complete disappointment. This team went from a potential Super Bowl contender to losing 6 of their last 10 in the playoffs, and to one and done in the wildcard round of the playoffs. Injuries killed this team especially but I also have to say despite Arizona making the playoffs this season Kliff Kingsbury is absolutely on the hot seat for next season. Especially as he constantly finishes slowly throughout his entire coaching career. Plus I am surprised Vance Joseph is still the defensive coordinator too due to how bad the defense performed as well. Next year is a make-or-break one where they need a deep playoff push.

Tennessee Titans

This was a heartbreaker for the Titans as many were expecting another deep playoff push for the Titans. Yes, the Titans were dealing with injuries, and that hurt but I am very concerned regarding one player. That player is Ryan Tannehill as he got exposed heavily in this game. I would say it may be time to move on from him but looking at his contract and Yikes it would self-destruct their salary cap by just moving from him. Also, the play calling for the Titans is abysmal as well and I am shocked offensive coordinator Todd Downing is still here.

Green Bay Packers

I am going to make this quick because I made an article that dedicates it to the Packers elimination. Like I kept saying Green Bay this was your last chance to get a Super Bowl win with Aaron Rodgers at QB. With the Packers entering cap hell and with a lot of star players entering free agency I won't be shocked to see the Packers blowing it up. There is no other option besides that as I don't see Green Bay winning with the current core that they have.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This team did not quit as they were coming back from a 27-3. They tried but it was not enough as they lost 30-7. This team was desperately missing OL Tristen Wirfs as the Bucs looked overwhelmed and couldn’t stop the Rams outstanding pass rush. Plus the secondary was abysmal throughout the season. Maybe the Buccaneers will have another shot next season making the playoffs.

So it is official as QB Tom Brady has confirmed that he will be retiring from the NFL after 22 years in the league. As a Jets/Jaguars fan I was jumping for joy as I was never a fan of him growing up. But I have to admit despite my dislike for him I can’t deny how great he was in the NFL. Especially how unlikely his career would have been as he was drafted in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL Draft. The fact he turned it into one of the best careers in NFL history is just amazing. Tom had more Super Bowl rings than every NFL Team's history. Brady has 7 and the Steelers and Patriots. Despite the cheating scandals especially Deflategate where he still does not come across well and is a dark part of his career in the NFL. He was an excellent talent and like I said I still was never a fan of him due to being a Jags/Jets fan but I am going to miss Tom Brady in the NFL. Enjoy Retirement Tom, you had a fantastic career and it is well deserved. I hope you have further success with your businesses and with your family. See you in Canton in 2027.

Buffalo Bills

I also had the Bills as a team playing in the Super Bowl this season. Games against the Kansas City Chiefs are why. Unfortunately, it was a tough loss for the Bills here as they had one of the greatest playoff games I have ever seen against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Bills don’t have a lot of weaknesses but if they had CB Tre’Davious White healthy for this game the Bills would have made the AFC Championship game and potentially the Superbowl. The Bills are close but one thing's for sure they need depth on the secondary, some interior offensive line help and my goodness can the Bills get a consistent running back. Yes, Devin Singletary got better in the second half of the season but he was very inconsistent this season. Plus Matt Brieda stinks, and I wonder if Zack Moss will still be on the roster with the number of times he is a healthy scratch and has been ineffective in games. But I would not stress out about the Buffalo Bills yet as they will be back. I trust the executive and coaching team.

Kansas City Chiefs

Well, that was an absolute disaster of an ending. The Kansas City Chiefs had the game won with a 21-3 lead and even won the coin toss against the Cincinnati Bengals in overtime. What happened well the Chiefs had an old tradition play out where they went Full Reid and blew their opportunity. The offense was way too cocky with the play calling and execution. The Chiefs defense was abysmal and they needed to upgrade it during the offseason. They had this game but did not finish it which sucks but the better team won with the Bengals. I wonder what they do during the offseason and yes Patrick Mahomes needs to take care of the distraction that is surrounding him with his family.

San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers are a tricky team to discuss. As they have moments of brilliance where they look like one of the best teams in the league that should be playing in a Super Bowl. But they also have moments where they choke away opportunities as they did here. I hate to say it but Kyle Shannahan may be a good coach but he has a growing reputation as a massive choker. He has been a major contributor to why the 49ers have struggled with success at points. No, he should not be fired yet but if he does not break this reputation then it would not surprise me if the 49ers decided to move on from him. Jimmy G proved that he could be a strong starter but I wonder how the 49ers will move on from him. Especially as Trey Lance is coming soon and if properly developed he could be a dangerous weapon to have. Next year is a Super Bowl or bust for the 49ers.

Now that we have gone through which teams have been eliminated let's now get to who will be in Super Bowl 56.

Cincinnati Bengals

If you were to tell me in Week 1 of the 2021 regular season that the Cincinnati Bengals would a) make a deep push in the playoffs and b) be representing the AFC in the Super Bowl I would have not believed you. But my goodness they did it. They may have made questionable moves during the offseason but they have absolutely turned out to be wise moves. The most notable one was in the 1st round of the 2021 NFL Draft when they selected WR Ja’Marr Chase. I will admit I was the one that was not a fan of this pick at all as the Bengals o-line was abysmal and I thought they were legit going to destroy Joe Burrow's legs again. Even though there were concerns about his drops in the preseason, it is safe to say that he got over those issues. Chase was no question the best offensive rookie that was taken in this draft class. When he is on the field he is legit the best player on the Bengals offense. It's not just him that is a great threat as a receiver but Tee Higgins is getting better and better every time I see him play. Tyler Boyd as well has plenty left in the tank. CJ Uzomah despite the injury he has is a threat along with Drew Sample. The running back core is excellent with Joe Mixon in the backfield along with Samaje Perine. Let's not forget about the excellent Joe Burrow. My goodness, he is one of the best QBs throwing the football today. The Bengals have a franchise QB in him and I wonder how last season could have turned out if he was healthy.

Don’t forget about the Bengals defense as it looked better. Especially with the acquisition of DE/EDGE Trey Hendrickson. Many thought he was just a player that had Cameron Jordan make look good in New Orleans as a One Year Wonder. I was not one of those guys but he proved them wrong as my goodness he is a fantastic player for the team. Even Sam Hubbard has been excellent as a pass rusher. Logan Wilson and Markus Golden have been an excellent linebackers core and are leaders on this defense. Secondary while a bit shaky, has some excellent tools. Safety Jessie Bates is one of them and I say this now Just pay him now before the Super Bowl begins because Bates has been an excellent piece to this secondary. Heck, even Eli Apple looks mediocre with Chidobe Awuzie and Trae Waynes in the secondary doing their job.

Evan McPherson is a sleeper as he has been clutch for the Bengals and has been excellent on special teams. He has been one of the best parts of this Bengals team. One thing is for sure though Zac Taylor has absolutely saved his job for next season as the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals.

But in order to win the Superbowl and bring the Lombardi Trophy to Cincinnati, there is one team they need to get past.

Los Angeles Rams

They’re back. The Los Angeles Rams make their return and will be representing the NFC in the Superbowl. This was not surprising as many had predicted that the Los Angeles Rams would be making the Superbowl this year. Especially as the team upgraded at quarterback trading Jared Goff and two 1st round picks to the Detroit Lions to get Matthew Stafford. It is amazing to see Stafford with a competent coach, o-line, and running back. He looks like a much different player. Imagine if Detroit actually gave this to him during his younger years in his career. What could have been? But the Rams o-line is excellent along with Andrew Whitworth who ironically placed with the Cincinnati Bengals and my goodness for a guy his age he is an excellent blindside blocker. The Rams have a good running core with Darrell Henderson jr and Cam Akers (No I have no idea how he quickly came back from a Torn Achilles). Stafford has his receivers in Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson and ring chaser Odell Beckham Jr. We will see if Tyler Higbee will be available on Sunday but he should be good to go.

Their defense is just amazing with the talent they have. Like Aaron Donald who is the best defensive lineman that I have ever seen. Along with both A’Shawn Robinson, this d-line is scary. Look at the pass rushers too as Von Miller and Leonard Floyd are emerging as their true selves again ever since they joined the team. The secondary is still scarry with Jalen Ramsay as their number 1 shutdown corner. I only wish the Jacksonville Jaguars still had him on their defense. I can’t forget about Johnny Hekker and Matt Gay as they both have been excellent on special teams as well. But Sean McVay continues to prove that he is one of the best young coaches ever in the NFL today, maybe in history. Name me a coach his age that has been this great as a coach.

Two teams, a fresh matchup nobody saw coming and another Superbowl is here. Let's move on to my prediction.

My Superbowl Prediction

This is a Super Bowl that I am very hyped to see. I think this is going to be a matchup that will be a close one. On paper, the Rams are the better team as they have a ton of talent on defense, offense, QB, and have the usual ring chasers on the team. But I can’t rule out how magical the Bengals have been on this run. To be honest I really would love to see either of these teams win. I am going to go with the Los Angeles Rams in this matchup as I feel they are too talented and have the better coach. I think the score will be 35-32 Rams. I as always am excited for when the Super Bowl hits (Well excluding Superbowl 53 and that is a story for another time) and I wish both teams luck in this matchup.

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