The divisional round of the 2020 NFL playoffs was dramatic. The past two regular-season MVPs were both forced out of their respective games with concussions. One of the greatest quarterbacks in league history threw what was likely his final pass as a pro, sealing his team's fate with an interception in the process. Another coach seemed to indicate that his highly paid quarterback wasn't guaranteed a starting job in 2021. You don't even need to look past the most important position in sports to see how stressful this weekend was for the eight playoff teams.
The playoffs are down to four teams now, and each of the teams that finished its season with losses this weekend will be spending the next few days thinking about its mistakes. No team is perfect, but those teams each had a problem spot or structural issue the opposition was able to exploit.
Let's detail what went wrong for those four teams and how they'll try to address those concerns. We'll start with Sunday night's game and work our way backward:
Flaw: Inability to make plays downfield
The Buccaneers came into Sunday's game against the Saints with a goal and a game plan. The goal was to flip the turnover margin after posting a minus-4 mark across two regular-season losses to New Orleans. One of the ways they were hoping to get there was by daring Drew Brees and his receivers to get past them for big plays.
As you know, the Bucs achieved their goal. Tom Brady & Co. didn't turn the ball over and forced a Saints team into four giveaways, including three interceptions from Brees. Tampa turned its first three takeaways into touchdowns and used the fourth to run out the clock. Teams that lose the turnover battle by four in the playoffs were 1-58 before Sunday, and after a Saints team that turned the ball over just 10 times throughout the entire 2019 regular season coughed the ball up four times, they're now 1-59.