Super Wild Card Weekend sure was wild, and now we are looking ahead at some marquee Divisional Round matchups. The Divisional Round will see the NFL’s number one defense face off against its number one offense. We get to see Drew Brees versus Tom Brady. On the AFC side, there are two teams that have not had playoff success for decades battling for chances to appear in the AFC title game. As we anticipate some great football this weekend, here is a big prediction to watch for in each game.
Bold Prediction #1- The Green Bay Defense Will Outplay the Rams Defense
The Los Angeles Rams ended the season with the NFL’s top scoring defense. In addition, the Rams allowed the least amount of yards per game. However, as I pointed out in a previous article, their defensive stats do not tell the whole story.
In short, the Rams faced the Bills and Buccaneers this season, the NFL’s second and third best scoring offenses. They struggled, allowed an averaged of 29.5 points per game. This week, they face the Packers, the NFL’s number one offense. With Aaron Donald a little banged up, look for the Packers offense to move the ball effectively into the end zone against the Rams.
On the flip side, the Packers’ defense has out performed the Rams defense over the past six regular season games. In that span of time, the Rams allowed 19.2 points per game. The Packers, on the other hand, averaged 18.5 points allowed per game. This included holding the Titans, then the NFL’s top scoring offense, to just 14 points. Add in the fact the Jared Goff has a thumb injury and the cold weather, the story of this game will be the Packers’ defense, not the Rams’ defense.
Bold Prediction #2- The Brady v. Brees Matchup Will not Be a Close Battle
The first playoff matchup between Tom Brady and Drew Brees comes in the latter days of their careers. Indeed, if this matchup had occurred 10 years ago, the anticipation of an “gunfight” between the two future Hall of Famers would be more likely. That is not the case in 2021.
Both teams finished in the top ten in the NFL in terms of points scored per game. The Buccaneers were third at 30.8 and the Saints were fifth at 30.1. In Week One, the Saints won 34-23. Then, in Week Eight, the Saints blew them out 38-3.
Now, some people will use the adage, “It’s hard to beat the same team three times in one season” as a reason why the Buccaneers will play better. That does not add up, though, in the NFL. In these kinds of matchups, the 2-0 team improves to 3-0 67% of them time.
However, the Saints struggled to move the ball last week against the woeful Chicago Bears. Despite having homefield advantage, the Saints will be the ones heading home early this year. The Buccaneers will win in a blowout.
Bold Prediction #3- The Chiefs vs. Browns Will Be a Close Shootout
Even though I predicted the Browns to win last week, I still cannot believe I’m writing a playoff predictions article that includes that franchise. While the Browns and Chiefs finished far apart in points scored per game, both teams were known for shootout games during the regular season.
In terms of yards allowed per game, the two teams were nearly identical. The Chiefs averaged 358.3 yards per game and the Browns allowed 358.4. Of course, the Chiefs’ offense led the NFL in yards per game by a wide margin, but the Browns are no stranger to taking on high-powered offenses and holding their own. Earlier in the regular season, the Browns won a 41-35 shootout against the Titans.
The key in this game, though, will be the experience of the Chiefs who won the Super Bowl last year. While the game will be high-scoring, the Chiefs defense will clamp down when they need late in the game. The Chiefs will advance after a 38-34 victory.
Bold Prediction #4- The Ravens Will Upset the Bills
Coming into this postseason, the story surrounding Lamar Jackson was that he could not win a playoff game. He did that last week as the Ravens defeated the Titans on Super Wild Card Weekend. The Bills are on a roll, though, having won their last seven games, including beating the Colts last week.
Simply put, the Ravens have a far more physical and better defense than the Bills. They finished the year as the seventh best defense in terms of yards allowed per game and second in points allowed per game. The Bills, while having the second-best scoring offense, have not faced a defense like the Ravens’ during the win-streak.
This game will be close, and may not be decided until the final drive. However, the Ravens will come out on top, winning by a field goal or less.