NFL Divisional Round Predictions

Baltimore Ravens defeat Houston Texans 

If you’re a Texans fan, then you might be pleased to see that I have picked against you guys again considering how wrong I was about the previous game. Let me start off by giving the Texans their flowers. While I wasn’t overly shocked that the Texans were able to beat the Cleveland Browns in the Wild Card round, the manner in which it happened was jaw dropping. I expected a bit of a let down for the Texans after being crowned division champions a week prior. If that did happen, no one would blame such a young team for losing to a Browns team that is widely respected. 

Instead, the Texans looked like anything but a young team. Led by their rookie quarterback CJ Stroud, who has played like anything but a rookie this season. Stroud was sensational against the Browns. He completed 16 of 21 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns. As for the game against  the Ravens. I expect the Ravens to come out ready to play and seize the moment. The Ravens have never had a better chance of getting to the Super Bowl in the Lamar Jackson era. While Stroud was able to have success against the Browns’ defense, it was at home. I don’t expect him to have that type of success on the road. I also don’t envision the Texans’ defense being able to stop the soon to be MVP. 

San Francisco 49ers defeat Green Bay Packers 

Speaking of a young team and quarterback playing like absolute worldbeaters in the Wild Card round, I introduce you to the Packers. Despite how awful the Dallas Cowboys were, Matt LaFleur and the Packers deserve so much credit for what they pulled off. To go on the road as the seven seed, and completely dominate was extremely impressive. Jordan Love in his first playoff game, completed 16 of 21 passes, for 272 yards and three touchdowns. 

Heading into their matchup with the 49ers, I don’t expect the Packers to be scared. However, unlike the Cowboys, the 49ers are a serious team. Kyle Shanahan won’t allow his team to come out unfocused. Shanahan will also be the one to completely humiliate the opposing defensive coordinator. I expect a comfortable 49ers win. 

Detroit Lions defeat Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

I’m calling this game the “Wholesome Bowl”. Just incredible feel good stories on both teams. For the Lions, they got their first playoff win in 32 years against the Los Angeles Rams. After having their best season in decades, it would have been cruel to Lions fans had they lost to Matthew Stafford. Their new hero, Jared Goff, came through and played well with the weight of the world on his shoulders. As for the Bucs, they demolished the Philadelphia Eagles 32-9. Despite the Eagles being in freefall for weeks, the Bucs were underdogs heading into the game. The Eagles’ terrible defense had no answers for Baker Mayfield and the Bucs’ offense. 

In the matchup between the Lions and Bucs, I expect the Lions to feed off of that electric home crowd and clinch their spot in the NFC Championship game. While the Lions’ secondary can be diced up, I think they will be able to generate some pressure on Mayfield and cause some mistakes. 

Kansas City Chiefs defeat Buffalo Bills 

In the marquee matchup of the divisional round, it will be chapter three of the postseason story between these two teams. The Chiefs are coming off of a dominant 26-7 win over the Miami Dolphins in one of the coldest playoff games ever. The Bills are coming off of a 31-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

​​These two teams seem poised for another instant classic. The last playoff matchup between the Chiefs and the Bills was one of the wild games in recent memory. It was two years ago in the divisional matchup, and the Chiefs won 42-36 in overtime. That game and every other playoff game that hasn’t been a Super Bowl, has been played at Arrowhead in the Patrick Mahomes’ era. This time the game will be in Buffalo. 

I see the Chiefs winning this one mainly because I trust Mahomes more than I trust Josh Allen. I also trust Andy Reid far more than I trust Sean McDermott. Despite the Chiefs having a weak receiving group, the Bills’ defense has shown that they can be had when it matters most. Besides, the Chiefs are the current Super Bowl champions, so it will be no big deal if they lose. The Bills have so much pressure on them to finally get over the hump. If they can’t beat the Chiefs in a year when they will likely not have a worse receiving core for Mahomes ever again, when will they?   

Header Photo: The Chiefs travel to Buffalo to take on the Bills in what will be a rematch of the epic Divisional Round matchup between these two teams in the 2021-22 season. It is also Patrick Mahomes’ first road playoff game. (Ed Zurga/The Associated Press)

Write to Mohamed Warsame at mohamed.warsame@mnsu.edu

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