As expected there were some surprises during Wild Card weekend, none bigger than the Green Bay Packers. Jordan Love and the Packers offense rolled over the vaunted Cowboys defense and it was never a contest. Can Green Bay continue its surprising run vs. the 49ers? Find out below as we break down and pick each Divisional round matchup.
Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens -9.5 (4:30 PM EST on ABC/ESPN)
This Houston Texans team continues to impress led by C.J. Stroud. Stroud once again had a near perfect performance against the Cleveland Browns in a blowout win. Going into the game the Browns had the #1 ranked defense in the league but had no answers for the Texans offense. Up next will be a much tougher test in Baltimore with a fresh Ravens team looking to start its Super Bowl run.
The Ravens are stacked on both sides of the ball and quarterback Lamar Jackson is putting up MVP numbers this season. Lamar finally has some legit threats on the outside including stud rookie receiver Zay Flowers. Jackson and the Ravens offense will look to control the clock and keep the Texans offense off the field.
In the end, the Ravens will be too much to handle for Houston putting an end to its Cinderella run. The future is bright for the Texans who have a star head coach and a legit quarterback to build around.
Game Pick: Ravens 31 – Texans 17
Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers -9.5 (8:15 PM EST on FOX)
In the Saturday nightcap, the Packers will look for another upset against the best in the NFC. San Francisco has looked the part of a potential champion all year and show no signs of slowing down. The 49ers will be rested and mostly healthy except for Dre Greenlaw who is questionable for the game.
Green Bay was the most impressive team last weekend and it’s hard not to be in awe with what Jordan Love is doing. Love is running this offense to perfection with great accuracy and pocket movement. The Packers will need another big game from Aaron Jones as balance will be a key against this 49ers defense.
I see the Packers continuing their momentum and hanging with the 49ers for most of the game. San Francisco will pull away late but this will be closer than most expect.
Game Pick: 49ers 27 – Packers 20
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Detroit Lions -6.5 (3:00 PM EST on NBC)
Another surprise result from Wild Card weekend was Tampa Bay dominating the Eagles. I did pick the Bucs to win but was impressed at how well they looked and how bad the Eagles played. The Eagles looked like they already checked out and had issues tackling all night long. Up next for Tampa Bay will be the Lions at home and don’t expect the same tackling issues for the Lions defense.
In Detroit, everything is coming together. Their offense is one of the best in the league led by OC Ben Johnson and on defense, they are night and day better than they were last season. The Lions will need a better 2nd half performance than last week as they barely held on to get by the Rams.
Baker Mayfield looks to have found a home in Tampa Bay and I expect him to sign a long-term deal with the Bucs this offseason. Mayfield and the Bucs will keep it close for the first 3 quarters but Detroit will be too much to handle at home.
Game Pick: Lions 28 – Bucs 17
Kansas City Chiefs @ Buffalo Bills -3 (6:30 PM EST on CBS)
The best game in the Divisional round will be in Buffalo. Josh Allen and the Bills will look to finally get past Patrick Mahomes in the playoffs and they get them at home. This will be Mahomes first road playoff game which just shows how dominant the Chiefs have been lately.
Buffalo has finally found its form and continued its run with a 31 – 17 win against the Steelers last weekend. The Bills have now won 6 straight games and are one of the hottest teams in the league. What has been the winning formula for Buffalo? The ground game. The Bills are relying more on James Cook and running the ball which is putting less on Josh Allen’s shoulders.
This has been a strange year for the Chiefs who for the first time are relying more on their defense. Kansas City’s offense is just not as explosive as years past and it’s clear they miss former OC Eric Bieniemy. The Chiefs will need to break out of their offensive funk to have a chance in Buffalo.
In the end, I see Buffalo moving on as they prove to be too much at home for the Chiefs. This game will be a huge confidence boost for the Bills as they look to continue their run.
Game Pick: Bills 27 – Chiefs 24