Lo! The NFL divisional playoff round draws hither

Lo! The NFL divisional playoff round draws hither

undefined
Illustration: Eric Barrow (Getty Images)

This crazy, six-game slate on Wild Card Weekend lived up to the hype, delivering history and upsets and exciting games, wire to wire. We now have a Divisional Round in the NFL Playoffs that includes the Buffalo Bills and the Cleveland Browns. Crazy, right?

There will be four games this coming weekend, with the first seed from each conference making their playoff appearances. Let’s look at these matchups in detail.

Advertisement

2 / 7

Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers

Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers

undefined
Illustration: Eric Barrow (Getty Images)

The first game of the weekend will see the sixth-seeded Los Angeles Rams, coming off their upset victory against the (my) Seattle Seahawks in Seattle. It was the first playoff game the Pete Carroll-led Seahawks have lost at home. The Rams proved that their defense is their calling card, generating constant pressure and turnovers in their dominant game. While the game ended 30-20, it was far more lopsided than the score appears. Russell Wilson was limited to only 174 passing yards. Jalen Ramsey is playing corner at an elite level, and if he can limit Davante Adams, there aren’t many other options in the Packers passing attack. The Rams have the type of team that Packers fans should be incredibly nervous about.

Advertisement

3 / 7

Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills

Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills

undefined
Illustration: Eric Barrow (Getty Images)

What a fun battle this will be. The Bills are high-flying, playing opportunistic defense and lights out offense with ascendant superstar Josh Allen at quarterback and stud Stefon Diggs at wide receiver. They played with fire last weekend, however. The Colts kept it close with a good run game, and lost by only 3. The Bills are a great story, but the Ravens defense held Ryan Tannehill to only 165 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. They also ran for 236 total yards against them. If the Ravens show up and plays their game, I think they beat the Bills in this one.

Advertisement

4 / 7

Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs

Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs

undefined
Illustration: Eric Barrow (Getty Images)

Holy shit, the Browns are in the Divisional Round, and they got there by getting past their longtime big brother, the Steelers. That game was nuts. The Browns got out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter, and never looked back. Baker Mayfield is playing great, their running game is elite, and they forced Ben Roethlisberger into four interceptions. As nearly infallible as Patrick Mahomes has been, we’ve seen the Chiefs lose (or be in close games) when he turns it over. The Browns will need nearly a perfect game from their defense, but I truly believe they could keep this interesting. That said, my money is still on the Chiefs to re-emerge as the AFC power they are.

Advertisement

5 / 7

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints

Illustration for article titled Lo! The NFL divisional playoff round draws hither
Illustration: Eric Barrow (Getty Images)

We get a true treat on Sunday night, with a battle between two of the all-time greats. Drew Brees and Tom Brady will square off for the third time. Both teams possess elite rushing defenses - the two best in the NFL this year. This game is going to come down to the quarterbacks and the defenses, and who will get the better of who. The Saints beat the Buccaneers in both of the prior matchups this season - the first, 34-23, and the second, a drubbing of 38-3. Beating any team three times in one season is an incredibly tall task. Beating Tom Brady three times in a season has never happened, ever. Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas is rounding into form, while Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans has a long-standing battle with Saints corner Marshon Lattimore. There are so many incredibly, fascinating plot lines to follow in this game, and saving the best for last was an incredible decision by the league schedule makers.

Advertisement

6 / 7

My prediction 

My prediction 

Illustration for article titled Lo! The NFL divisional playoff round draws hither
Graphic:

AFC Championship Game: Chiefs vs. Ravens

NFC Championship Game: Buccaneers vs. Rams

Advertisement

7 / 7