Looking ahead to the Divisional Round

  • Post Author
    by Sports director
  • Post Date
    Thu Jan 19 2023

By: Alex Yu

Courtesy of CBSSports

This past Super Wildcard Weekend sure was a good one. We watched a historic comeback, Mr. Irrelevant score four touchdowns, and Brett Maher somehow miss four extra points. These great games have now helped set up a nice slate of matchups to look forward to. In this article, I will go over ever game, providing my prediction for each one as well. Here are my power rankings of the eight remaining teams as they stand right now as well.

1. Kansas City Chiefs

2. San Francisco 49ers

3. Cincinnati Bengals

4. Philadelphia Eagles

5. Buffalo Bills

6. Dallas Cowboys

7. New York Giants

8. Jacksonville Jaguars

(4) Jacksonville Jaguars @ (1) Kansas City Chiefs – Jan 21, 4:30 pm ET

Both teams will be going into this one red hot. The Chiefs have won 10 of their last 11, and the Jaguars have won six in a row, including a 27-point comeback in the wildcard round against the Chargers. The two teams previously played on November 13th, with a final score of 27-17 favoring Kansas City. They opened quickly with a 20-0 lead, but Jacksonville was able to scratch back to only make it only a ten-point loss. Since then both teams, especially the Jaguars, have greatly improved. I think this game could easily go just like the last one between these teams. Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars will have to limit their mistakes to a minimum, as they will not be able to keep up with the prolific Chiefs offense if they get down early again. Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Andy Reid will not let up in the second half like the Chargers (and now former Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi) did last week. It is important to note both teams' below average passing defenses, so expect a high scoring contest. Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars marching into Arrowhead and winning appears unlikely but would also seem very 2021 Bengals-esque. I still can't see them outlasting the Chiefs though. Either way, one record will be broken. Either Trevor Lawrence will lose on a Saturday for the first time in his life, or Patrick Mahomes won't host the AFC championship for the first time in his career.

Final score prediction: KC 34, JAX 28

(6) New York Giants @ (1) Philadelphia Eagles – Jan 21, 8:15 pm ET

This might secretly be the most interesting matchup of the four. They've played twice already with the Eagles winning both, but only one featured both starting quarterbacks. The Eagles won 22-16 in Week 18 against Davis Webb, along with many Giants starters on defense being rested. They crushed the Giants back in Week 14 however, with Jalen Hurts, Miles Sanders, and nearly the entire Philadelphia offense having their way with a then struggling Giants defense. I think this game may be different, however. The Giants are coming off arguably their biggest win since the 2011 Super Bowl and have huge momentum with Daniel Jones playing excellent football and an improved defense. The Eagles have had the bye to get rested, but Jalen Hurts is still not fully healthy. They still have the advantage over New York at nearly every position though. The Giants offensive line will have their hands full, going up against a familiar defense that has four players over 10 sacks, and three players with at least 3 interceptions. Since the playoffs expanded to 7 teams per conference, we've seen the NFC one-seed go down in the divisional round and conference championship, proving how a bye may not be as important as people make it out to be. One final fact, the Giants are an astounding 6-0 against #1 seeds in the playoffs since 1990. I still see the Eagles coming out on top, but it will come down to a last second kick.

Final score prediction: PHI 24, NYG 21

(3) Cincinnati Bengals @ (2) Buffalo Bills – Jan 22, 3 pm ET

A rematch of a game cut short. On January 2nd, Bills safety Damar Hamlin tackled Bengals receiver Tee Higgins in the first quarter. It is believed that Hamlin suffered what is called commotio cordis. This happened when he was struck above the heart at the exact wrong point of his heartbeat. His heart stopped on the field, and the Bills athletic trainers were able to bring him back. This game will be emotional for both teams, as they came together just over two weeks ago for Damar Hamlin. Both teams are going into this game after winning close games against teams facing quarterback troubles. The Bills won by just three points against the Miami Dolphins last week and gave up 31 points despite allowing a mere 231 total yards. The Bengals were tied with the Baltimore Ravens before Sam Hubbard returned a fumble 98 yards for a touchdown after a failed QB sneak by Baltimore backup Tyler Huntley. Despite having subpar performances, Buffalo and Cincinnati remain some of the best and most complete teams in the league. They each have a top 5 quarterback, a dynamic receiving core, and an opportunistic defense. This game will likely come down to which team makes fewer mistakes. That's why I'm going with the 5-point underdog Bengals. Buffalo has turned the ball over 27 times this season, compared to Cincinnati's 18. It is also important to note that this will be the 6th playoff game ever featuring both teams on 8+ game win streaks.

Final score prediction: CIN 34, BUF 30

(5) Dallas Cowboys @ (2) San Francisco 49ers – Jan 22, 6:30 pm ET

I'm sure Cowboys fans are excited for this one. Dallas is eager for revenge, as last year they were defeated by San Francisco in the wildcard round 23-17, after some questionable play calling and clock management in the fourth quarter. Dak Prescott ran for 17 yards in bounds, and 8 seconds was not enough time on the clock to spike the ball for an opportunity to win. San Francisco is going into this game winning 11 games in a row after starting 3-4, and is led by an unlikely hero, QB Brock Purdy. Purdy was drafted last overall in last year's draft and has played excellent under the Kyle Shanahan system ever since Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance both went down with season ending injuries. The 49ers boast the undisputed best defense in the NFL and have a plethora of pieces on offense as well. Dak Prescott will have to perform similarly to his outing against Tampa Bay this past weekend for the Cowboys to advance. He had one of the worst games of his 7-year career in Week 18, and then one of his best in the wildcard round. Dallas is also no pushover on defense, as they have forced 33 turnovers this season, which is the best in the NFL. They will have to get after Brock Purdy as well, otherwise he'll be able to pick their defense apart with the likes of Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk. I see the 49ers controlling this game all the way through, with the final score being closer than the game will seem.

Final score prediction: SF 27, DAL 21