NFL Playoffs Divisional Round Preview
By Stephen “Twist” Kearns
We’re another week closer to the Super Bowl and after some crazy Wild Card upsets, it’s time for the Divisional round! Keep reading for our game previews and predictions.
Jacksonville Jaguars #4 at Kansas City Chiefs #1
The Jaguars are heading to Arrow Head, which seems like the norm now in the AFC playoffs. You have to play at least one game (if you’re lucky) in Arrow Head these days thanks to Mahomes and company.
Lawrence might have set a record against the Chargers by being the first player to throw three interceptions in the first quarter of his first playoff start and prior to this he had not thrown a pick in the first quarter in his entire career!
While this Jaguars team seems to give the same energy as the 2018 team that knocked off the Steelers and almost knocked off the Patriots in the AFC Championship game they have one difference, their quarterback is not Blake Bortles! These Jaguars have teeth, although it seems they take one half of football to grow…
The Chiefs already faced the Jaguars in the regular season and handed them a 27-17 loss in Arrow Head and the key to that game was the 5 sacks the Chiefs racked up.
While on paper you are looking at a mismatch, the Chiefs have the #1 passing game and a better ranked defence and offence, however they have a lower ranked rushing attack than the Jaguars. If the Chiefs defence can keep the pressure on Lawrence and stop the Jaguars 14th ranked rushing attack then it’ll be a long game for the Jaguars!
It is the playoffs though and stranger things have happened… we’re looking at you Bills/Dolphins!
Prediction: Jaguars 28 – Chiefs 27
New York Giants #6 at Philadelphia Eagles #1
Daniel Jones went into the Vikings house and walked out making sure the Giants will have to pay him after they did not pick up his 5th year option.
The Giants got their first playoff win since 2011 and Jones joined Lamar Jackson and Steve Young as the only players with 300 pass yards and 70 rush yards in a postseason game.
It was obvious Jones was able to handle the atmosphere and the Skol chants last week however while he has faced the fans in Philly before, that atmosphere is a different pile of battery filled snowballs when it’s the playoffs!
Hurts and the Eagles will be looking to remind the NFC that they have the 2nd rank offence and 3rd rank defence when they face the Giants by putting up big numbers. They swept the Giants in the regular season that included a 48-22 smackdown.
The Giants would need to shut down the scrambling Hurts and make him stay in the pocket if they want a chance at moving on with their 17th ranked rush defence, this is the key to beating the Eagles, keeping Hurts from scrambling.
While the all-time playoff meeting between these two is four times with both sides winning twice, this match up feels stacked in the Eagles favour. Will the Bye Week give the Eagles the edge in prep and rest? It seems so since Hurts has not appeared on the injury report!
Prediction: Giants 24 – Eagles 35
Cincinnati Bengals #3 at Buffalo Bills #2
The game that never happened for obvious reasons will now take place but with a lot more on the line than seeding. This is the game that either brings the Bills one step closer to exorcise the curse of four Super Bowl appearances and zero wins something #BillsMafia desperately wants to happen! Will Damar be in attendance watching the game unfold? This would obviously give the Bills a boost to win it for Damar!
The Bills struggled to put away the Dolphins, and while Allen became the eighth player in postseason history to record three plus games with 300 pass yards and 3 TDs he also has an NFL high sixth game with multiple interceptions. These mistakes will allow your opponents to hang around longer than they should!
While the Bengals are facing a Bills team that is ranked higher in every category except passing (7th vs 8th) this is where the Bengals can be dangerous due to their explosive WR corp.
Burrow recorded his fourth playoff win against the Ravens and prior to this the Bengals franchise as a whole only had 5 playoff wins in 52 seasons prior to his arrival. While they themselves almost fell to the Ravens in the Wildcard round as mentioned they have Burrow under centre who can help guide them to the Super Bowl as he has previously. The question is will Burrow continue the trend with the Bengals, bringing the franchise playoff woes or will they finally also exorcise their Super Bowl drought and win it all.
Only one thing is for sure, we have two teams who have never won the Super Bowl, one of them is going to have to pack up and wait another year while the other continues on, bringing hope to those who have waited so long!
Prediction: Bengals 35 – Bills 38 in OT
Dallas Cowboys #5 at San Francisco 49ers #2
Mr. Irrelevant is Irrelevant no more!
In Purdy’s first playoff appearance he became the first rookie to score four touchdowns in a playoff game. If there was any pressure on the rookie he did not show it once and while he has not faced off against the Cowboy’s, is there any team that can stop the rookie when you look at the weapons on offence? It’s hard to bet against the 49ers this week at home when you have a hot hand like Purdy under centre.
On paper the 49ers lead the Cowboys in all categories (offence, defence, passing & rushing) but that’s on paper and this is playoff football! Anything goes when it comes to teams knocking out favourites, close games and more!
With their win over the Bucs the Cowboys have won their first playoff road game since 1992, breaking the second longest road losing streak in NFL history. While Dak became the fourth player in the Super Bowl era with four passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown in a playoff game.
Dak made sure to put the NFC on notice with his five touchdown performance against Brady’s Buccaneers. While going on the road is always difficult in the playoffs, teams have won it all as a lower seed (2007 Giants, 2005 Steelers, 2000 Ravens) so don’t count out the Cowboys just yet.
After the way the Cowboys played against the Bucs this game has the ability to become a shoot-out so the Cowboys better practise their two point conversions as their kicker is not dependable at the moment.
Both the Cowboys and 49ers are looking to add a sixth Super Bowl title to their collection and join the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots with six total Lombardi trophies.
Prediction: Cowboys 30 – 49ers 28