It’s hard to genuinely feel happy for an opponent.  

It’s not in our nature, especially as Americans. If I could summarize our nation’s ethos in one word, it would be: winning. General George Patton said as much in a speech to the Third Army in 1944. 

“Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost, and laughed.” 

But this past Sunday night, Patton would have been rolling over in his grave. Because when my Rams lost 24-23 to the Lions in the super wild card round, while I felt disappointed, I felt good for Jared Goff. I truly did. 

I was the biggest Goff apologist after the Rams took him with the No. 1 overall pick in 2016. I bristled when critics said he was a bust in his rookie year. I took great pleasure when Sean McVay arrived and the pair put on an offensive display that eventually led to a Super Bowl appearance.  

I continued to stick up for him when things started sputtering over the next couple seasons. I never stopped rooting for him after L.A. traded him to Detroit in 2021. I followed his career and wished him well. When the Rams won the Super Bowl with Matthew Stafford, I thought of him and hoped it didn’t sting him too bad. 

But as fate would have it, the Lions built a talented roster around Goff and their paths would eventually cross with Goff’s former squad in the postseason. And in his big moment for ultimate retribution, the former top pick didn’t shrink. He threw for 277 yards, completed better than 80 percent of his throws and had a QB rating of 121.8. 

Kudos to you, Jared. You deserve this. And kudos to Detroit, too. Ford Field was hot for that game and years of frustration and emotion spilled out when the clock hit 0:00. 

I also had to roll my eyes at my Rams brethren. Not the team, but the fans. Yes, L.A. had some untimely injuries. Yes, maybe the refs missed a couple potential penalties. But here’s the thing: The Rams had multiple chances to win the game and they fell short, taking field goals instead of touchdowns in the red zone.  

And in the playoffs, you can’t expect the referees to bail you out. I want them to keep their flags in their pockets except in the most extreme situations. And nothing that happened on Sunday night qualified as extreme.  

What’s even funnier is Rams fans complaining that Lions fans were being too harsh with their mockery. Well, what do you expect? They’ve never had any success at all, so they can be forgiven for being overly exuberant. No harm, no foul. 

Unless the Lions beat the Rams again next season. Then I’ll really get mad. OK, moving on! 


The games stunk: I just spent some time talking about the Rams-Lions game, which was really the only watchable contest from the super wild card round. Every other one was a blowout, which was disappointing because the last few years have given us some bangers. 

Be gone: I said last week that I was done with the Eagles. Seems like the rest of the league was as well. It’s one thing to lose on the road, it’s another to get embarrassed against a Tampa team that had to rally to even get into the postseason. Now people are asking if head coach Nick Sirianni should be shown the door. That might be a bit harsh, especially after he had Philly in the Super Bowl last season. But he’s officially on notice. If they stumble out of the gate in the fall, look out. 

Coaching carousel: Things are active. Bill Belichick and Jim Harbaugh have met with Falcons ownership, Jerod Mayo is now the Patriots head coach and Mike Tomlin walked out of a press conference when asked about his future in Pittsburgh. It’s still too early to really predict where the chips will land, but the next few weeks will be very interesting. 

It could be worse: Sure, I’m bummed the Rams season is over. But man, at least they’re not the Cowboys. That loss against Green Bay? Ooof. But who knows, maybe they’ll get Bill Belichick out of it. That could end up being a very watchable disaster. 

Texans at Ravens, Saturday 4:30 p.m. ET 

This is the round when Cinderella stories usually end. Houston raised eyebrows everywhere not by beating the Browns, but by blowing them out. The Texans took apart the league’s top-ranked defense with ease, but things are going to be different this week. 

That’s because Baltimore has a defense that led the league in sacks and turnovers. And while Texans QB C.J. Stroud has gone six straight games without throwing an interception, he’s not going to have comfortable pockets and will most likely have to make a lot of throws on the move.  

And while we’re singing the Ravens’ praises, let’s not forget that their offense led the league in rushing and has the likely MVP in Lamar Jackson under center. We could make this more complicated, but there’s no need. Baltimore has had a week off to rest and saw tight end Mark Andews come off injured reserve and return to the practice field. If he’s able to play in this game, that’s even more reason to put money on them. 

And the betting sharps agree. There’s a reason why they’re favored by 9.5 points in this game.  

Winner: Ravens 

Packers at 49ers, Saturday 5:15 p.m. ET 

Speaking of Cinderella stories, Jordan Love is now everyone’s darling. He’s an easy guy to root for, especially since his Green Bay predecessor has been showing his ass in public lately. But the playoffs are no fairy tale place, especially when it comes to facing the NFC’s top seed on the road. 

San Francisco was third in the league in rushing yards. And one thing the Packers don’t do well is stop the run, finishing 28th in the league in that category. So it’s pretty easy to envision how this game will go. 

The 49ers will pound the rock. Then they’ll pound the rock. Then they’ll do that some more. After that, they’ll be able to get some easy throws to tight end George Kittle in the middle of the field when the linebackers start to cheat forward and then play-action Green Bay to death with some deep throws to Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. 

Love will get his chances. So will Aaron Jones, who scored three rushing touchdowns in the Packers’ wild card win. But they’re going up against a Niners defense that is rested and getting some key pieces back in the lineup. 

San Francisco is favored by 9.5. That sounds about right. 

Winner: 49ers 

Buccaneers at Lions, Sunday 3 p.m. ET 

One thing that stood out from Detroit’s win last week was its fast start. With the crowd on their side, the Lions running game was dominant and they scored touchdowns on their first three possessions. But the Rams made adjustments and they were limited to just three points in the second half. 

That’s one thing Tampa Bay must do. The Bucs will need to have a strong jaw and weather the early flurry of shots and then mount their counter-offensive. That could be possible because their defense has been playing well and has been strong against the run over their last eight games.  

That’s possible, but maybe not likely. The Lions have a deadly backfield combination in David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs. And with an offensive line ranked among the better units in the league, Jared Goff should have time to find receiving targets like Amon-Ra St. Brown and Sam LaPorta, who looked great despite suffering a knee injury in Week 18 that everyone feared could keep him out of the lineup. 

We’ve got another big betting line here. The Lions are favored by 6.5. I think the Bucs cover, but that’s it. 

Winner: Lions 

Chiefs at Bills, 6:30 p.m. ET 

Well, well, well. I predicted before the season started that these two teams would meet in the AFC championship game. I was off by a week. 

I made fun of Patrick Mahomes last week for saying that the Chiefs could turn it on in the playoffs and in his defense, Kansas City did that against the Dolphins. But after 14 straight playoff games at home, the Chiefs are going to have to win on the road. 

I don’t think they will do that. While this isn’t a scientific prediction at all, Buffalo will have all the momentum here. They’re at home against an opponent they’ve been aching to send packing ever since that fateful loss in Kansas City two years ago. Offensively, Josh Allen’s exploits have been well documented.

The key to this game is how Buffalo shows up defensively. They were a top 10 unit against the pass this season and while their run defense hasn’t been great, Kansas City hasn’t run the ball particularly well either. 

I can see this game being close in the fourth quarter, but Buffalo will pull away and finally vanquish the monster. 

Winner: Bills 

Enjoy the games! 

Sid Saraf
Sid Saraf

NFL Analyst

Currently a Mobile Editor at Yahoo, Saraf spent 5.5 years (Oct. 2010 – Feb. 2016) working for FOX Sports as an NFL Editor and Writer. Prior to that, Saraf worked for CBS Interactive for 4.5 years (May 2006 – Oct. 2010) as a Staff Editor.