SC's Divisional Round Predictions
Source: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Wildcard weekend is officially behind us, and the divisional round is upon us. The Bills and Browns won their first playoff series in decades, Tom Brady padded his playoff stats and the Rams snapped the Seahawks home playoff winning streak. So who continues their pursuit to the Superbowl and who has to wait till next season? Here are my predictions.
Green Bay Packers vs Los Angeles Rams
It's a battle of number ones, as the number one offence takes on the number one defence. The Rams pulled off the victory with two banged up QB's last week, but it was their defence that pulled off the heroics. The Rams gave up less than 200 passing yards and had Wilson under wraps. Goff is expected to start but will do so banged up, and Aaron Donald will also be less than 100 percent.
The Packers defence has had their ups and downs. Most notably their run defence has been the Achilles heel to the team. They have given up an average of 4.5 yards per carry this season. The Rams are 10th in rushing this season, and Cam Akers has been playing some solid football lately, look for them to test the Packers front four.
The Rams will also have to deal with Aaron Rodgers. The two-time MVP has been on fire this season and will be the biggest factor in both the Packers and Rams success. With 48 TDs at the age of 37, ARod is still a bad man, and if he’s on his game the Rams could be in for a long day.
Prediction: Green Bay Packers, 28-14
Baltimore Ravens vs Buffalo Bills
Last week, the Ravens defence made some big plays and hardly allowed the Titans offence to gain any momentum. On third downs they stopped the Titans 8 times out of 12 tries. Lamar Jackson didn't have the wow game that many would have thought to beat the Titans, but he did have some moments of greatness. He’s still struggling in the passing game, but his scrambling is the x-factor.
As for the Bills, they had their hands full with the Colts. Buffalo’s defence gave up close to 500 yards, and almost squandered a 24-10 4th quarter lead. They bent, but didn’t break and got their first playoff win in 25 years.
Josh Allen had himself a solid start. Over 300 yards passing, two TDs, and looked confident even when things weren’t going his way. Even more so, the duo of Allen and Diggs proved once again that they are legit. Diggs gobbled up 100 yards receiving. Surely, he’ll be at the top of the Ravens watchlist.
Even though I'm still not a believer in the Ravens or Lamar Jackson, their defence has become the team's identity. With that said, I believe Buffalo's offence, and the weather forecast will be too much for Jackson and his Ravens to overcome.
Prediction: Buffalo Bills, 31-20
Cleveland Browns vs Kansas City Chiefs
The Browns have been the butt of jokes for over two decades, but that narrative changed last Sunday. Cleveland sent a message to the football world as they fended off their rival Steelers. Their two headed monster in Chubb and Hunt was effective against the Steelers tentative defence. Hunt rushed for three TDs and Chubb had 76 rushing yards and the Browns running game should be the forefront once again this week.
With all that positivity, it has to be said they did give up almost 40 points, and it should also be said that the Chiefs offence is much more dangerous than that of the Steelers. With names like Hill, Kelce, and Mahomes to deal with, they’ll have to be much sharper.
Speaking of which, Mahomes has had another amazing season. He’s won 17 of his last 18 starts since last year's playoffs and Kansas City's offence has averaged almost 30 points a game, and has garnered the most yards this season. That's bad news for the Browns, who gave up over 500 yards to the Steelers. I’d look forward to another monster day from this offence.
The Browns defence gave up the 8th most passing touchdowns this season, and we all know what the Chiefs love to do. Despite Baker settling into his role and the Browns riding the momentum, their defence has major flaws that will more than likely be exploited by the best QB in football.
Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs, 38-17
New Orleans Saints vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers came in looking to make a statement against Washington but the story of the game ended up being the Football Teams 4th string QB. Mind you, the score would have been much different if the Bucs actually managed to catch some balls, but they did what needed to be done and walked away with the win.
The Saints walked away with an easy win last week against a lifeless Bears team, but obviously the Bucs pose much more of a threat. With that said, this could possibly be their last game with Drew Brees under centre. The good news for the Saints is they’ve had Tampa’s number all season. In both meetings, the Saints outscored Tampa 72-26. Their last meeting had the Saints winning by a 35 point margin.
New Orleans’ defence, led by Cameron Jordan and Trey Hendrickson, have become sake machines. As a team they are near the top of the rankings and their secondary is tied for most interceptions with 18. It should be said that almost a third of those picks came from the arm of Brady himself. They’ll need to keep up that intensity to avoid another heartbreaking end to their season.
The Saints defence proved to be too much against the Bucs this season, but New Orleans have become synonymous with choking these past few years and I don't see that changing. Brady has been much better in the second half of the season, and of course is the best playoff QB the game has ever seen.
Prediction: Tampa Bay Bucs, 28-24