NFL DIVISIONAL ROUND PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS
Cincinnati Bengals @ Tennessee Titans
The Cincinnati Bengals won their first playoff game since 1990 when they beat the Las Vegas Raiders in last week’s wild card game. Now, the Bengals travel to No. 1 seed Tennessee. The Titans are the one team that has gotten overlooked. No one really thinks they will be playing for a Super Bowl title in a few weeks.
The Titans will get RB Derrick Henry back after he missed the final nine games of the season due to a foot injury. Henry was leading the league in rushing at the time and had been the NFL’s leading rusher in each of the previous two seasons. Tennessee still finished fifth the NFL in rushing offense averaging over 141 yards per game.
Cincinnati is 0-7 all-time in road playoff games. The Titans haven’t won a home playoff game since 2003, but don’t forget they have one of the better defenses in the league. Tennessee was fifth against the run and finished eighth in scoring defense this season. At home, the Titans win and advance… TENNESSEE 24, CINCINNATI 20
San Francisco 49ers @ Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers has played three playoff games against San Francisco in his career. He has lost them all. Rodgers would like nothing more than to beat his hometown (he grew up in the Bay area) team. He is enjoying another MVP-type season and led the Packers to five straight wins before a meaningless loss to Detroit in the regular season finale.
The Niners are very good defensively, but they could be without their best pass rusher Nick Bosa. He suffered a concussion in last week’s upset win over Dallas in the wild card round. Linebacker and leading tackler Fred Warner injured an ankle against the Cowboys and, like Bosa, is listed as questionable this week.
Green Bay is favored by six points and the temperature is expected to be in the teens at kickoff. Remember, Rodgers is 69-37-4 against the spread at home at Lambeau Field (regular season and playoffs) during his career. It’s tough to bet against him… SAN FRANCISCO 27, GREEN BAY 31
Los Angeles Rams @ Tampa Bay Bucs
Matthew Stafford got his first playoff win last week as the Rams beat the Cardinals on Monday night. The Rams offense was outstanding in the first half of the season. Not so much in the second half. Since Week 9, Stafford has thrown 11 interceptions, four of which were returned for touchdowns.
The Bucs got an easy win over Philadelphia in last week’s wild card game. The Tampa Bay offense might be the best in the NFL. Tom Brady led the league in passing yards and passing touchdowns. The Bucs running game was among the top five in the NFL.
It’s worth noting that in late-season games – from November on – Stafford has won just four times. That’s in his entire career. Four times the team he quarterbacked won a game in November or later. Brady, on the other hand, has done very well in late-season games as his seven Super Bowl wins can attest. He’s the reigning champ too and don’t forget the Bucs defense is one of the better units in the league… TAMPA BAY 33, LA RAMS 20
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2020/21 Divisional Round Predictions
Los Angeles Rams @ Green Bay Packers
After upsetting Seattle last weekend, the Los Angeles Rams head to Green Bay where the Packers are a touchdown favorite. Green Bay went 7-1 at Lambeau Field this season and hasn’t lost a game since the 34-31 overtime defeat at Indianapolis on November 22.
The Rams defense is outstanding and it showed against Seattle. The Rams held the Seahawks to just 278 total yards and scored on a Darious Williams 42-yard interception return. They will be hard-pressed to stop the NFL’s top-scoring offense. The Packers average 31.8 points per game.
With MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, the Packers are 61-35-4 against the spread and when coming off a bye with 12 to 15 days to prepare, Rodgers is 10-5-1 against the spread. The Rams have the defense to keep this one close, but the Packers offense will be too much… GREEN BAY 34, L.A. RAMS 27
Baltimore Ravens @ Buffalo Bills
Lamar Jackson was simply unstoppable last week in Baltimore’s wild card win over Tennessee. Jackson ran for 136 yards and a touchdown and completed 17-of-24 passes for 179 yards. The Ravens defense was impressive too holding NFL leading rusher Derrick Henry to just 40 rushing yards.
Buffalo got its first playoff win in 25 years last week as QB Josh Allen threw two touchdown passes and ran for a third. The Bills allowed the Colts back in the game with two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Buffalo gave up 472 total yards in the process.
If there is a big difference between the Ravens and Bills, it’s defense. Baltimore finished the regular season seventh in scoring defense allowing just 18.9 points per game. Buffalo allowed 23.4 points a game (16th). The Bills also gave up over 119 rushing yards per game, which could be a problem against the NFL’s most potent rushing attack. Plus, Lamar Jackson plays very well when he’s a road underdog… BALTIMORE 23, BUFFALO 20
Cleveland Browns @ Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs opened as huge 10-point favorite over Cleveland, an upset winner over Pittsburgh last week. It was Cleveland’s first playoff win since 1995 and the franchise’s first road playoff win since the 1969. The Browns overcame the loss of head coach Kevin Stefanski and Pro Bowl guard Joel Bitonio due to COVID-19 last week.
This week’s task will prove more difficult as the Browns take on the defending Super Bowl champions. Kansas City won 10 straight before resting a bunch of starters in a season-ending loss to the Chargers. Surprisingly, the Chiefs last seven wins were by six or fewer points.
Road underdogs fare pretty well against the spread in divisional playoff games – 22-11-1 since 2004 – but this is still the Cleveland Browns on the road against the 14-2 Chiefs who won the Super Bowl last season. Kansas City is 13-2 in its last 15 home games… KANSAS CITY 38, CLEVELAND 17
Tampa Bay Bucaneers @ New Orleans Saints
It’s a matchup of future Hall of Fame quarterbacks again – Tom Brady versus Drew Brees. It’s the Bucs and Saints for the third time this season. New Orleans won both meetings this year winning the season opener 34-23 and then dominating Tampa Bay 38-3 behind four touchdown passes from Brees at midseason.
The Bucs are 12-3 this season against every team not named New Orleans. The Tampa Bay defense is very good, but has given up an average of 36 points to the Saints in the two games this season. The Bucs allowed just 20.4 points a game to all their other opponents.
New Orleans has won three straight and 12 of its last 14 games. The Saints are also 8-1-1 against the spread in their last ten games. Tampa Bay has been successful – 6-0 to be exact – in its last six games on the road. While the Bucs have the talent to beat New Orleans, doing so in the Saints backyard will prove mighty difficult… NEW ORLEANS 33, TAMPA BAY 29