There are some great matchups this weekend for the NFL Divisional Playoffs. We have a few surprise teams that made it to this round so kudos to the underdogs that advanced to the next round. Chief among the surprises would have to be the Jacksonville Jaguars. This team had virtually no chance after being down 27-0. Trevor Lawrence is the only quarterback to lead his team to a playoff win after throwing four interceptions. He will need that confidence again when the Jaguars face the top team in the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs.
Kansas City Chiefs (14-3) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-8)
Quarterback Lawrence did the “impossible” in leading the Jaguars to an improbable victory over the Los Angeles Chargers in the wild-card round, despite a 27-0 deficit. The odds of that were as close to zero percent as a team could get. Yet, in the end, that meant absolutely nothing. The playoffs are simply that much more different and teams tend to have their best performances in these win-or-go-home scenarios.
The Jaguars’ defense features several young players who have yet to gel together. This group needs more time but could become a solid, perhaps elite unit after several years of experience.
On the other side, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is getting things together with his offense. Things could’ve been rough without Tyreek Hill but the Chiefs put together one of the most interesting offenses in the NFL. Part of the offensive success depended on Mahomes’ ability to develop rapport with former Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. It didn’t happen the first few weeks but eventually, these two got on the same page and it was great to see.
Mahomes has two very fast receivers to throw to with Marquez Valdez-Scantling and rookie Skye Moore out of Central Michigan. There’s also the reliable tight end Travis Kelce who is a red zone threat. The running game now features two impact running backs, Isaiah Pacheco and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
The Jaguars come into this game with lots of confidence after their improbable win over Los Angeles but this test is different. Overcoming the Chiefs and their loud crowd will be no small task.
Chiefs 52 Jaguars 38
Buffalo Bills (14-3) vs Cincinnati Bengals (13-4)
The last time these two faced each other in Cincinnati and tragedy almost struck Bills Safety, Damar Hamlin. In a horrific scene we’ll never forget, Hamlin, collapsed on the field and lost consciousness for approximately 10 minutes, and stopped breathing. Hamlin recovered and could eventually play again despite the risks. The game was canceled though and it was a no contest as neither team was a given a win or loss.
However, these two teams are ready for their epic game. Although it’s easy to say the Bills will prevail at home, they’re going against a dominant offense with Quarterback Joe Burrow, receiver Ja’Marr Chase, Receiver Tee Higgins, and running back Joe Mixon. This offense is going against the number one defense in the NFL though. The Bills have the top total defense in the NFL.
Buffalo features a great offense of their own with Josh Allen, Stephon Diggs, and Gabriel Davis. Buffalo needs to get the running game on track though. The Bills are known for passing the ball but need to develop a balanced offense.
The Bengals are ready to defend their AFC Championship and return to the Super Bowl. Expect Cincinnati to have an “unfinished business” mentality.
Bengals 45 Bills 38
New York Giants (10-7-1) vs Philadelphia Eagles (14-3)
The Giants are the team that is difficult to ever count out. This team won against a superior Vikings team that won 13 games. At some point, it’s time to toss records aside. However, the Eagles look like the team that could go to the Super Bowl. For all the talk that Jalen Hurts wasn’t going to ball out at all, that talk went away quickly. Hurts erased all doubt. Of course, the Eagles brilliant draft night trade with the Tennessee Titans worked perfectly. Receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith are having their ways in Philadelphia.
On the other side, running back Saquon Barkley looks to lead the Giants to the AFC Championship. This game feels different with Barkley out there. It seems like the Giants have a decent chance to win but the odds will be too great.
Eagles 31 Giants 28
San Francisco 49ers (14-4) vs Dallas Cowboys (13-5)
The Cowboys sent the GOAT Tom Brady home with the loss lady week in the wild-card round. Dallas seems ready to add another big win and advance to the NFC Championship. The 49ers have the league’s second-best defense though so this dynamic offense with Dak Prescott, Cee Dee Lamb, and Ezekiel Elliott face a tough task.
On the other side, “Mr. Irrelevant” Quarterback Brock Purdy is more than relevant. He’s passing for more than 250 yards consistently. He deserves some respect and praise for what he accomplished in place of Jimmy Garrapolo who was injured.
Purdy has a golden opportunity to lead his team to NFC Championship. He has a very good rapport with receiver Deebo Samuel and running back Christian McCaffrey.
Expect the 49ers defense to play boldly after playing well enough against Seahawks team record holder Geno Smith.
49ers 28 Cowboys 24
Welcome to the NFL divisional playoffs.