This weekend the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs is stacked with four more great matchups. Our NFL Nation journalists pick us up the key to every game, a bold prediction for every matchup, and the final score.
Additionally, ESPN provides statistics and information to know for each game, and the Football Power Index (FPI) goes inside the numbers with a matchup rating (on a scale of 1 to 100) and a game projection. ESPN Chalk’s Dave Bearman hands over to the Nuggets, and Matt Bowen also cites an important matchup. It’s all here to help you prepare for a packed weekend of NFL playoff football.
Jump to a matchup:
CLE-KC | TB-No
Saturday, 4:35 pm | Fox
Matchup Rating: 82.8 | Spread: GB-6.5 (45.5)
What to watch: The Packers were No. 1 in the NFL in scoring. Ram was the No. 1 scoring defenseman. The Packers finished first in both Block Win Rate and Run Block Win Rate near ESPN. Ram’s defensive pairing of Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd combined to create 90 pressures, the most of any pass-passing pair. Throw in All-Pro Green Bay receiver Davant Adams against All-Pro LA cornerbacks, and this is the final battle of power versus power. – Rob Demowski
Bold prediction: 75 and sun-frozen to the tundra, Rama’s defense is not afraid of cold temperatures. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers may have thrown only 89 picks in 6,587 passes in his career, but Ram’s defense is in a decisive roll. Look out for one of the Ram’s cornerbacks to pick Rodgers and return it for his sixth defensive touchdown of the season. – Lindsey Thierry
Statue to know: The Packers Rodgers and Adams added 76.7% of attempts this season, the second-highest rate with 150 QB-WR doubles attempts in the last 20 seasons. But will Ramsay even work on the other side of the condemnation line? According to NFL Next Gen Staats, Pro Bowl receivers have caught 37% of the passes, when Ramsey was the highest defender this season. This is the lowest allowed by any defensive back. Ramsay also ranks in the lowest completion percentage (minus 9.3%) in the lowest completion percentage according to NFL Next General Stats.
Injury: Rums | Packer
Bowen’s matchup key: Rookie Rams looked like a veteran in a wild-card win over the Seahawks, overtaking Cam Acres. Now look for trainers Sean McVay to mix his personnel with one- and two-tight-end sets, using inside / outside zones and gap plans to open clean lanes for Akers. Read more.
Betting nuggets: Over each of Green Bay’s last five playoff games has been hit. While 11 of Los Angeles’ final 13 regular-season games were under redeemed tickets, Ram’s wild-card upset win totaled. Read more.
Therese Pick: Rams 23, Packers 20
Demovsky’s selection: Packers 24, Rams 20
FPI Prediction: GB, 65.1% (averaging 5.1 points)
Must read the matchup: Floyd’s first-round round-raiser to be revived by Rams … good (cold) and bad (Donald) for the Packers against Ram … Donald on rib injury: ‘Feel Real Good’ … Packers Rodgers has 6,587 interceptions in just 89 passes – and he hates every one of them … Wolfford ruled, Goff to start
Dan Orlovsky cited offensive defense for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to protect the Ram.
Saturday, 8:15 pm NBC
Matchup Rating: 94.3 | Spread: BUF -2.5 (50)
What to watch: The Ravens slammed their opponents on 41% of their opponent dropbacks this season compared to any other NFL team – but Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen makes up for it. He faced more attacks during the regular season than any other quarterback. And he did harm against them. Facing a blitz, he led the NFL in passing touchdowns with 17 (and had two more last week in the wild-card round), second in QBR (93.4) and fourth in dropbacks at 7.4. . – Marcel Louis-Jacques
Bold prediction: Ravens Lamar Jackson would become the first quarterback to run 100 yards in consecutive playoff games. He produced just the sixth 100-yard rushing game from quarterback in the playoffs in last weekend’s wild-card round when he was 136 at Tennessee. The Bills have not allowed a quarterback to gain more than 61 yards rushing over the past two seasons, with Kylar Murray, Cam Newton and even Jackson in 40 rushing yards at Buffalo 13 months ago. – Jamison Hensley
Statue to know: Bills receiver Stephen Diggs posted 128 receiving yards in last week’s win. The only players in Billes franchise history with two 100-yard games in single placements are Hall of Famers James Lofton (1990) and Andre Reid (1992). Diggs led the entire NFL in receiving yards this season with 1,535 yards.
Injury: Ravens | Bills
Bowen’s matchupThis week saw more cover 3 from the Bills, noting that Baltimore would have to get receiver Marquise Brown on defining concepts that allow Jackson to avoid mid-field attacks or go off the field to play shots. Read more.
Betting nuggets: The Ravens have covered seven straight games. The only team with a long streak this season? The Bills, from Vicks 9–17 (Eight Straits). Read more.
Hensley’s Pick: Ravens 24, Bills 23
Louis-Jacques Pick: Bills 24, Ravens 21
FPI Prediction: Child, 51.4% (average 0.5 points)
Must read the matchup: From Logo Stomp to Beer Chug: Ravens Peters has an unexpected passion … Daboll goes beyond X and O to revive Bill’s crime and his career … Silence his critics: Ravenous Jackson’s MVS Award Hai, Biles Allen. ahead? … Allen’s rise on display in the first playoff win with the Bills … compared to the Bills again to host limited fans for the division-round.
Sunday, 3:05 PM | CBS
Matchup Rating: 62.4 | Spread: KC-10 (57.5)
What to watch: The Chiefs have fought a season-long battle to fail, forcing opponents to kick more field goals and score fewer touchdowns when they are in the red zone. He allowed TDs on 77% of opponents’ trips inside 20, the worst in the league. This game would be a good time to fix the problem. The Browns are efficient offensively inside the 20s, scoring touchdowns 74% of the time. It was the third best in the NFL. – Adam Tcher
Bold prediction: Seeing their 2016 college shootout, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and and Brown QB Baker Mayfield would combine for seven touch passes. But Mahomes got the last ball this time and fielded Casey with a winning campaign in the next round. – Jake Trotter
Statue to know: Running back Nick Chubb, Brown has scored TDs in seven straight games, the longest streak by a Brown player since 1970 (Bo Scott also went seven straight). The Browns are 10-3 when Chubb plays this season, scoring a sizzling TD in 12 of those 13 games, rushing for 163 yards per game on average and 4.8 yards rushing as a team. Without a burp? Cleveland is just 2-2 with 95.5 rising yards per game, 3.9 yards per rush and zero scores on the ground.
Injury: Browse Chiefs
Bowen’s matchup key: With a zone-heavy approach, out of two-deep shells, the Browns can “top” the seams and “vertical” the heads. This would force Mahomes to throw under the windows and play deep ball. Read more.
Dan Orlovsky advised the Brons to play explosively and focus on defense to give the Chiefs a chance to defeat them.
Betting nuggets: The “Andy Reed By Bye” narrative gets a lot of attention, and he has a good 8–3 record out of the Biz (regular season or playoff) with the Chiefs. But he is just 6-5 against the spread in those games, with the Under 6-4-1. Read more.
Trotter Pick: Chiefs 35, Brown 34
Teacher’s Pick: Chiefs 27, Brown 22
FPI Prediction: Casey, 81.3% (averaging 11.7 points)
Must read the matchup: Ghostbuster Mayfield exorcises the playoff monsters, convincing the Brons … Smoked Sausage, Black Pearl, Ferrari Wright: How the Chiefs creatively name their wild plays … The 2016 epic tale of Mayfield and Mahomes. .. As regards Hunt, Chiefs. Seven different backs lead them in the running … Kingsbury gives the majors a chance for ‘Mahomes and Brown’ Mayfield when others pass
Sunday, 6:40 PM | Fox
Matchup Rating: 97.0 | Spread: NO -3 (52)
What to watch: You may have heard that the game will feature a pair of future Hall of Fame quarterbacks named Tom Brady and Drew Tree. This is their first playoff meet, and it may be their last as the Breeze are considering retirement after the season. Brady is trying to reach a staggered championship game for the 14th time, while Breeze is seeking his fourth appearance. They are also flanked by both top-six strongholds. And while New Orleans dominated the regular-season series (winning 34–23 and 38–3), the Bucs have been one of football’s hottest teams during the current five-game win streak. – Mike Triple
Bold prediction: Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown would score two touchdowns. He has been a difference-maker on offense, lining up all over the field and actually picking it up since the Bucks last faced the Saints – when Brown still had just three drills with the team under his belt Were. Brown has scored in four straight games, including last week’s win. – Jenna Line
Statue to know: According to NFL Next Jane Status data, New Orleans cornerback Marshawn Lattimore has an edge over Bucs receiver Mike Evans in 72 of his last three games. Evans had zero receptions on six goals from those plays. But Tampa Bay has options even if Evans is bottled again. Tait and Rob Gronkowski have 12 receiving TDs in the playoffs, tied for the second-most time with John Stallworth (Jerry Rice, 22). And receivers Brown and Chris Godwin each have five players receiving TD catches since Week 14 (including the playoffs), with Stephen Diggs and Davant Adams tied for the most in the NFL in that period.
Injury: Buccaneers | Saints
Bowen’s matchup key: Pressure is a large part of the identity of Tampa Bay Defense. I think we will see sim pressure from Tampa, which will speed up the process for trees. Todd Bowles’ defense had a blitz rate of 37.5% in the Week 9 matchup against the Saints. Read more.
Betting nuggets: Cover the Saints? If so, it’s worth noting that the Under eight are 1–1 in the last eight New Orleans covers. Read more.
Dominic Foxworth broke the Buccaneers’ keys to defeat the Saints, emphasizing the importance of Rob Gronkowski.
Laine’s Pick: Saints 27, Buccaneers 24
Triple pick: Saints 26, Buccaneers 23
FPI Prediction: No, 53.6% (averaging 1.2 points)
Must read the matchup: Brady’s Bucs made a better team since the last time they faced the Saints … The latest round in the Brades-Brady rivalry may be the most consequential … Brady’s Tampa timeline: Events that book their first year Defines as … a beautiful mind: Saints’ Kamra stops’ two steps ahead ‘