It’s always enjoyable when the NFL playoffs feature results that no one sees coming. Football fans had a good taste of the last week as the Browns defeated the Steelers 48-37 and the Rams defeated the Seahawks 30-20. These unexpected results add a layer of excitement to the postseason. Anything can happen so buckle up and get ready!
NFC Divisional Round
Green Bay Packers vs. Los Angeles Rams Today, 4:35 p.m. Eastern time, Lambeau Field, Fox
The Rams won in a thrilling game in the wild card round against the Seattle Seahawks. The Rams defense gave Russell Wilson, D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Chris Carson a tough time. Will they have a repeat performance against one of the best passers in the league, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (4,299 passing yards ranks 7th, 48 passing touchdowns rank 1st, five interceptions thrown ranks 1st, 84.3 quarterback rating ranks 1st)? Will the Rams slow down Packers receiver DeVante Adams and running back Aaron Jones (1,104 rushing yards ranks 4th, 5.5 yards per carry ranks 5th)?
Prediction: Packers 38 Rams 24
AFC Divisional Round
Buffalo Bills vs. Baltimore Ravens Today 8:15 p.m. Eastern Time, New Era Stadium, NBC
The Bills offense continues to fire on all cylinders. This unit looks flat out unstoppable. If there’s a defense that can slow this offense down, it’s the Baltimore Ravens. After a great performance against Derrick Henry and the Titans, the Ravens are confident they can stop anyone. The Titans scored just 13 points against Baltimore.
Buffalo has one of the best passing games in the NFL and will definitely test the Ravens defense. Baltimore must find a way to slow down Josh Allen (4,544 passing yards ranks 5th, 37 touchdowns rank 5th, 81.7 quarterback rating ranks 3rd) and Stephon Diggs (127 receptions rank 1st, 1,535 receiving yards ranks 1st, eight receiving touchdowns ranks 15th)
Will quarterback Lamar Jackson bring the Ravens one step closer to the super bowl?
Prediction: Ravens 28 Bills 27
AFC Divisional Round
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cleveland Browns, Sunday 3:05 p.m. Eastern Time, Arrowhead Stadium, CBS and NFL Network
The defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City comes into the divisional round well rested after the first-round bye. However, they won’t have receiver Sammy Watkins and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is questionable. Veteran running back Le’Veon Bell may get the start. Right Tackle Mitchell Schwartz will be out as well according to Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid.
Despite not having two key players available, the Chiefs offense led by Patrick Mahomes (4,740 passing yards ranks 1st, 38 passing touchdowns rank 4th, six interceptions thrown tied for 5th, 82.9 quarterback rating), should still score a lot of points with their elite passing game. Receiver Tyreek Hill (1,276 receiving yards ranks 8th, 15 receiving touchdowns ranks 2nd) and Tight End Travis Kelce should get a lot of opportunities for big plays down the field.
Cleveland is getting key players back this week as Left Guard Joel Bitonio, Right Tackle Jack Conklin, Tight End David Njoku, and Corner Back Denzel Ward are ready to return. The Browns rushing offense ranked third in the NFL in the regular season while the Chiefs run defense ranked 21st in the NFL. The Chiefs have the opposite strength with their passing game. Kansas City finished the regular season as the top passing offense in the NFL while the Browns pass defense was 22nd in the league.
Baker Mayfield performed admirably last week despite not having Bitonio on the field. Conklin left the game early due to a pulled hamstring. The Browns offensive line did not allow a single sack despite going against the league’s top pass-rushing unit.
Chances are this is going to be a really high scoring game. There could be more points scored by both teams than last week’s contest between the Browns and Steelers.
Prediction: Browns 49 Chiefs 45
NFC Divisional Round
New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday 6:15 p.m. Eastern Time Mercedes Benz Superdome, Fox
Every football fan dreams of watching Tom Brady face off against Drew Brees. This could be the last time we see both of these quarterbacks play against each other so make sure to record this game! Two high-powered offenses will have a battle of will in this divisional rivalry. Will the six-time Super Bowl champion lead Tampa Bay one step closer to the final showdown in Tampa Bay? Will Brees get receiver Michael Thomas involved early? Is the Buccaneers elite defense going to slow down Alvin Kamara, Brees, and Thomas? This is another game that will showcase the offenses.
Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans is one of the league leaders in receiving touchdowns. The Saints offense must slow him down along with Antonio Brown, Robert Gronkowski, and Chris Godwin if he plays. Godwin and Evans are on the injury report so that is worth keeping an eye on.
Prediction: Saints 41 Buccaneers 38