NFL Divisional Round Predictions
By NFL Correspondent D.Higgins
Last week, I gave my Wild-Card Predictions, going 4-2 in my picks. Read my recap of Wild-Card Weekend here. But for now, let’s get to the Divisional Round!
#4 Bengals @ #1 Titans
Saturday, 1:30pm on CBS
After winning a good fight against the Raiders, Cincinnati is looking to play the upset card in round two. Tennessee is well-rested, but the Bengals are pumped up after their first playoff win in decades. The teams have different attacks on offense–the Bengals are pass-heavy, thanks to QB Joe Burrow; the Titans run the ball very well, fifth best in the NFL at 141.4 rushing yards per game.
On defense, however, Cincinnati is built to defend the run, holding opponents to just 102.5 rushing yards per game, which is the fifth best in the NFL. That, I believe, will be the difference. The Bengals will keep Derrick Henry in check, and force the Titans to continue their sloppy play, as Tennessee committed 103 penalties for 973 yards during the regular season.
Prediction: Bengals 24 – Titans 21
#3 Bills @ #2 Chiefs
Sunday, 3:30pm on CBS
If these teams play the way they did last weekend, this game is going to be high-scoring and high-octane. I think that the winner of this game goes on to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
I underestimated the Bills’ offense in the Wild Card Round, so I’m not going to be fooled again. I think Buffalo gets their revenge over the Chiefs this year and wins this game because they have a superior defense and because QB Josh Allen will continue to limit his mistakes.
Prediction: Bills 38 – Chiefs 28
#6 Niners @ #1 Packers
Saturday, 5:15pm on FOX
The Packers are a strong team with a great offense, but many don’t realize that the 49ers actually averaged more yards per game than Green Bay during the regular season (375.7 to the Packers’ 365.6). The San Francisco defense was also better at preventing yards on defense, allowing just 310 yards/game (third-best in the NFL) while the Green Bay defense allowed 328.2 yards per game, good for 9th in the league.
To no surprise, both teams are in the top 10 in the NFL in nearly every meaningful category. But there is one category that stands out and pushes the Packers over the edge–turnovers. The disciplined Green Bay squad had a plus-13 turnover differential, while San Francisco struggled to a minus-4 turnover differential. I believe that will be the difference in this one.
Prediction: Packers 31 – Niners 24
#4 Rams @ #2 Buccaneers
Sunday, 12pm on NBC
The Rams looked really good in the Wild-Card Round, dismantling the Cardinals and putting their stamp on the playoffs. Their hopes to do exactly what Tampa Bay did last season – play the Super Bowl in their home stadium – comes down to this tough game against QB Tom Brady and the Bucs. Even though the Rams were well-tested with a tough NFC West schedule, I think that Brady will find a way to win, as he seemingly always does.
Yes, the Rams beat the Bucs 34-24 this season, but that was way back in Week Three. Since then, we saw Matthew Stafford struggle with picks, as the Rams’ 18 interceptions was fifth-worst in the NFL. They are going to have to play mistake-free football to win this one in Tampa Bay, but I think the Bucs’ offense is just too much for the Rams.
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