NFL Playoffs Divisional Round Preview

NFL Playoffs Divisional Round Preview

After an action-packed wildcard weekend, we’re down to the elite eight in the NFL playoffs. The Vikings, Chargers, Buccaneers, Ravens, Dolphins, and Seahawks have been eliminated. It’s now time to look ahead to the divisional round. Here are my predictions for who will make it to the conference championship games.


Jacksonville Jaguars @ Kansas City Chiefs:

The Jaguars couldn’t have started off their wildcard matchup with the Chargers any worse. Trevor Lawrence completed just four of his first 16 passes for 30 yards and four interceptions as Los Angeles jumped out to a 27-0 lead. However, the Chargers took their foot off the gas in the second half, and the Jags stormed back to win 31-30. The Chiefs are well rested as they are coming off a bye, thanks to earning the #1 seed. The Jags have vastly outplayed their expectations this year, but I still don’t think they are ready to play with the big boys yet. They will play hard and keep it close, but I don’t think their offense is consistent or explosive enough to keep up with a perennial powerhouse like Kansas City.

Prediction: Chiefs 34, Jaguars 24

Cincinnati Bengals @ Buffalo Bills:

Both of these teams had a tougher time than expected in the wildcard round. The Bengals scored a go ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 98-yard fumble return and held on to beat the Ravens 24-17. Josh Allen and the Bills were very sloppy, turning the ball over three times in a 34-31 win over the Dolphins. The defense was put in tough positions on multiple occasions as the offensive turnovers gave Miami short fields. Allen will have to tone down the aggressiveness if Buffalo hopes to win this game. Cincinnati has a great defense that will surely take advantage of any mistakes Allen makes, but I don’t know if I trust their offense right now. With three starting offensive linemen out with injuries, Joe Burrow was under constant pressure against the Ravens. He will likely face a similar challenge in this one. While Buffalo’s pass rush is not elite, it is certainly good enough to overmatch an offensive line filled with backups. I think this will put a cap on Cincinnati’s ability to make explosive plays through the air because Burrow probably won’t have enough time to let his receivers get deep down the field. They may also have difficulty establishing the run. Given this, I think the Bills have more room for error and have an easier path to win this one. I wouldn’t be shocked if Allen made some costly mistakes, and Cincinnati snuck out a close win, but that is not what I am expecting.

Prediction: Bills 30, Bengals 23


New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles:

The Giants upset the Vikings 31-24 in the wildcard round. It was an outcome that was pretty easy to predict, but I believed in the Vikings a little too much. New York’s offense is legit, with Saquon Barkley at the top of his game and Daniel Jones improving every week. They have even found a reliable #1 receiver in Isaiah Hodgins, who has come out of nowhere after being claimed off waivers in November. The defense is no world beater, but their pass rush and secondary are both solid. However, the Eagles have an extremely talented roster across the board. The Giants may have the slightly better coaching, but the talent gap between these teams is too much to overlook for me.

Prediction: Eagles 27, Giants 20

Dallas Cowboys @ San Francisco 49ers:

The Cowboys were very impressive in their wildcard round thrashing of the Buccaneers. Dak Prescott was spectacular, and the pass rush on defense was relentless. However, the Bucs made a lot of sloppy mistakes that helped the Cowboys. The 49ers are extremely well coached and disciplined, so the Cowboys shouldn’t expect many easy breaks in this one. The Niners were sluggish out of the gate in their wildcard round matchup with the Seahawks, but they dominated the second half on route to a 41-23 win. I think their superior coaching and roster talent will be too much for the Cowboys to overcome in this one. Moreover, if the game were to come down to a game winning field goal or extra point, San Francisco has the clear advantage. Cowboys kicker Brett Maher has a big leg, but he missed four of his five extra point tries against the Buccaneers. On the other hand, 49ers kicker Robbie Gould has never missed in the postseason.

Prediction: 49ers 27, Cowboys 23