Busting myths for the 14 playoff teams: Does Brady have enough playmakers? Are the Bills too one-dimensional?

  • Joined ESPN in 2011
  • New Jersey native and author of two published novels

You think you know some stuff about the NFL, and then they play the games and you find out you were wrong about a ton of it.

Just look at Sunday, the final regular-season day of the 2021 season. The Colts looked like a shoo-in for the playoffs. All they had to do was win at lowly Jacksonville. The Jaguars had nothing to play for and had looked lifeless for months. The Jaguars beat the Colts 26-11.

The Steelers had some of the worst-looking losses in the league in November and December, and Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement tour had already begun. Surprise! They made the playoffs! Yes, really!

The Rams were 45-0 with Sean McVay as their coach when leading at halftime. They blew a 17-3 halftime lead to the 49ers and needed Arizona to lose to Seattle in order to clinch the NFC West.

Now, some of the stuff in that last paragraph does fit some old narratives. Matthew Stafford’s late interception feeds into the idea that he can’t get it done in the clutch. Arizona’s late-season fade feeds into the idea that Arizona can’t finish. The Patriots always seem to lose in Miami late in the season, and they did just that.

But honestly, as much happens every week in this league that you can’t predict as you can. You think you know a lot about the NFL’s 14 playoff teams, I bet. But a lot of what you know about them is actually wrong.

For the final week of the season, we are ditching overreactions and going instead with myth-busters. Here’s what you think you know about the playoff field, and why you might not want to be so sure.

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