The 2022 NFL Playoffs continue with this weekend’s Divisional Round. Last week’s Wild Card round featured a couple of close games and more than a few blowouts. Hopefully the Divisional Round gives us far more entertaining games. Let’s take a look at all of the games this Divisional Playoff weekend!
Last week I went 5-1
I told you so: Rams over Cardinals.
What do I know: Cowboys over 49ers?
AFC - #4 Cincinnati Bengals at #1 Tennessee Titans
Saturday, January 22nd - 3:35pm CST - CBS
The top-seeded Titans come into this game with not only homefield advantage and an extra week of rest, but with the return of arguably the very best running back in the NFL in Derrick Henry. A pretty tough task lies ahead for Cincinnati, who won a very close game against Las Vegas last week. The Titans are a very good team, as their seeding proves, but they aren't built to win shootouts like their opponent is. They’ve got to hope Henry is in midseason form and doesn't have rust stemming from his midseason injury. It’s a huge ask against a dangerous opponent. If Joe Burrow is allowed time to get to his targets, it could be a long day for Tennessee. The Titans defense is a good unit, but not a great one, and they may have their hands full in this matchup. Cincinnati finally won their first playoff game in a very, very long time, now they will win this first road playoff game in franchise history, thanks to their exceptional quarterback. Cincinnati wins 28-20.
NFC - #6 San Francisco 49ers at #1 Green Bay Packers
Saturday, January 22nd - 7:15pm CST - FOX
Last week, the 49ers proved the notion to be true that they were the one team in the NFC playoff field nobody wanted to matchup with, and except the Rams, nobody wants to face the Niners less than Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers is 0-3 all-time in playoff games against San Francisco, in fact the Packers franchise hasn't beaten the 49ers in the playoffs in 20 years. The thing is the Packers are a quite average football team that happens to have an exceptional quarterback and a top-five receiver. As exceptional as Rodgers is, his struggles in the playoffs seem to be of the mental variety, and if he isn’t playing on that transcendent level, his average team can't make up the difference. There is a coaching deficiency as well. Just like Kyle Shanahan almost always has the upper hand on contemporaries like Sean McVay, he also has the upper hand against Matt LaFluer, outcoaching him nearly every time they meet. While, yes, Green Bay won their regular season matchup, they blew a 17-0 lead late in the first half, needing a 51-yard field goal as time expired to regain the lead and win the game. Green Bay may be as good now as they were then but San Francisco is quite a bit better than that matchup. This one will be close, but the Niners get the win over Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs, again. San Francisco wins 28-25.
NFC - #4 Los Angeles Rams at #2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday, January 23rd - 2:00pm CST - NBC
Much like Green Bay with San Francisco, Los Angeles is a nightmare matchup for Tampa. Over the past two seasons, Tom Brady’s Bucs are 0-2 against the Rams, and this time around Brady may be without both of his best offensive lineman. Even with Wirfs and Jensen at 100%, trying to slow down Aaron Donald would be near impossible, but without one or both, the task may be hopeless. With Brady under constant duress from Donald and Von Miller, his outside targets will be in short supply with Mike Evans getting blanketed by Jalen Ramsey. This will put the weight of the Bucs’ offensive production on Rob Gronkowski. On the other side, while Tampa’s front seven may be one of the best in football, the Rams have the receivers to attack their suspect secondary. Matthew Stafford needs to play more like he did against Arizona rather than the way he did against San Francisco, and he will. Backed by a great defensive performance against a team whose offensive injuries and exhausting season will finally catch up with them, the Rams get the win against an opponent tailor-made for them right now. Los Angeles wins 31-24.
AFC - #3 Buffalo Bills at #2 Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, January 23rd - 5:30pm CST - CBS
Buffalo had an uneven season, but caught fire late and now seem to be playing at their best. Kansas City was written off earlier in the season, but of course they turned things around thanks to their transcendent quarterback Patrick Mahomes, making the Chiefs the best team in the NFL since the beginning of November. Many will point to Buffalo’s win in Kansas City in October as a sign of things to come, but the Chiefs aren't that slumping unit they were during that early season stretch. These are the playoffs, and as good as Josh Allen has been, Mahomes is better, and he doesn't lose in the playoffs (except to Tom Brady, like so many others). Buffalo comes into this game with the NFL’s top-ranked defense, but the surprise of this game will be Kansas City’s defense being the better of the two units in this game, by forcing key turnovers and making the big stops against Josh Allen’s offense when they absolutely need them. In last year’s AFC Championship Game, the Chiefs overcame an early deficit to the Bills at home before securing the victory. They will do that again here. The Chiefs have played in the last three AFC Championship Games, and they will make their fourth-consecutive trip with a close win here. Kansas City wins 28-26.
We move one week closer to arguably the most exciting day in sports, NFL Conference Championship Sunday. Which of these teams will represent the NFL’s final four? We’ll just have to wait and see. Leave us your picks, comments, and insight below!