What to Expect from the NFL Divisional Round
Now that (Super) Wild Card Weekend is finally completed, we have a much better idea of who the true Super Bowl contenders are. There are some key match ups in the divisional round this season, and this is when real playoff football begins. A handful of teams had blowout wins during the wild card round, but expect the divisional round to be significantly tighter.
The first match up I have my eye on is the Kansas City Chiefs versus the Buffalo Bills. Both the Chiefs and Bills won by 21+ points during the wild card round, but this game will answer a lot of questions. Are the Bills good enough to take on Patrick Mahomes’ electric offense? Personally, I think they are. This game is going to be scrappy and I expect to see some strong quarterback play from Mahomes and Josh Allen. If the Chiefs can keep their foot on the gas and brush Buffalo off their shoulder, Kansas City is a serious Super Bowl contender.
The other AFC Divisional game is between the 1-seed Tennessee Titans and the Cincinnati Bengals (who just got their first playoff win in over 3 decades). Derrick Henry’s return is still up in the air as I am writing this, and without Henry the Titans could be in trouble. A lot of people (including myself) wouldn’t put the Tians or Bengals in their top 4 Super Bowl contenders for this season’s playoff picture. However, if Henry is able to return to the Titans backfield they are immediately able to compete with teams like the Chiefs, Bills or Buccaneers.
Speaking of the Buccaneers, Tom Brady and company will face off against Matthew Stafford (who is also coming off his first career playoff win) and the Los Angeles Rams. The Bucs and Rams are both coming off big wild card wins, and now we get to watch the best passing offense in the NFL square off with the star-studded Rams defense. These 2 teams are both in the hunt for another Super Bowl appearance, and I have no idea who will advance. Don’t miss this game.
Lastly, we have the Packers versus the 49ers. San Francisco squeezed out a win in a tight game against the Cowboys last weekend. Aaron Rodgers and the 1-seed Packers are coming off a nice rest, and I fully expect them to take care of business against the 49ers. Maybe Jimmy G can surprise us all and knock Rodgers out the playoffs before the NFC Championship game (where Tom Brady would probably do it anyways).
This blog wouldn’t be complete without an updated Super Bowl matchup prediction, so I will take the Buffalo Bills against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (and a score prediction for the hell of it: Buccaneers 38 – Bills 31).