NFL Divisional Round Preview
Rams @ Packers
This game is filled with some amazing one on one matchups. The most notable two players we will be seeing going head to head is Davante Adams and Jalen Ramsey. These two players were the best at their position this season and are both in their primes. Adams and Ramsey have only played each other once in their career and it was in 2016 when Ramsey was a rookie and Adams hadn't broken out yet. Ramsey is physical at the line and he's a technician with his hips. However, Adams has a PhD in route running and is a master at gaining separation. This matchup should be heated and could go either way.
Offensively, the Rams have been extremely inconsistent and are filled with injuries. Cooper Kupp didn't practice all week, and is questionable for the game while both Jared Goff and Andrew Whitworth will play through injury. The Packers have been a top three scoring offense all season and if the Packers put up 30+ points, the Rams won't be able to respond. With that being said, the Rams had the number one defense in 2020 and Aaron Donald is playing. The Rams defense is the best in the league in the second half and the Packers offense is the best in the league in the first half. The Rams need to keep Rodgers from getting hot in the first half. Rams Defensive Coordinator, Brandon Staley is the best with second half adjustments, so if they don't fall behind early, their offense should be able to keep up with Green Bay's. The Rams need to run the football with Cam Akers. Akers has quietly had an awesome rookie season and he gets better with the more carries he has. The teams who have the best chance at beating Aaron Rodgers are the ones who can get pressure with four man fronts. The Rams have a shot to upset the number one seed, but the key is staying discipline defensively and running the ball on offense.
The Packers can't come out slow. Matt LaFleur isn't a great coach after the bye week. Earlier this season, the Packers lost to the Buccaneers by 28 after the bye week. The Packers were almost put on upset alert by the Jaguars after having a long week following a Thursday Night game. The Packers need to come out fast with Aaron Jones toting the rock and with Rodgers getting the ball out of his hands quickly.The Packers need to play their game and do what they've been doing all season. LaFleur can't switch things up just because he's in the playoffs. LaFleur is one of the best coaches in the NFL, and he should be able to adjust to the playoffs just fine. This is the Packers game to lose. The only way they lose is if they try and get pretty and don't play their brand of football.
Davante Adams' Final Stat Line: 6 receptions, 101 yards, 1 touchdown
Player of the Game: Za'Darius Smith EDGE Rusher Packers
Final Score: Rams 24 Packers 31
Ravens @ Bills
This game features two of the hottest teams in football. The Ravens are rolling right now, they're playing with vengeance and they're out for blood. It seems like the only team hotter than the Ravens is the Bills. The Bills are playing championship football. They dominate all four quarters and are clicking on all three phases of the game: offense, defense, and special teams. Everybody is here to watch Lamar Jackson versus Josh Allen, the two best quarterbacks from the 2018 draft class. Both quarterbacks are franchise guys. They are guys who can make plays with both their arms and their legs. This game has the potential to be really, really incredible.
In order for the Ravens to upset the Bills, they need to attack the edges of this defense. The Ravens need to play power football, especially if the Bills are giving it to them. With that being said I expect Bills DC, Leslie Frazier to stack the box. So that means Lamar Jackson is going to have to win this game with his arm. He isn't going to be able to throw to Tre'Davious White's side, which means that guys like Mark Andrews and Willie Snead will have to step up. The Ravens need to find creative ways to get JK Dobbins the ball in space. Dobbins is hard to bring down in a one on one tackle and he has seven straight games with a touchdown. Greg Roman has struggled to adapt to defenses that load the box, so he needs to find a way to step up and bring creative play calls. Defensively, the Ravens can't put Marcus Peters on Stefon Diggs. Diggs is the master of double moves which Peters struggles with. The Ravens should be assigning Marlon Humphrey with the task of locking down Diggs. The Ravens need to be creative in order to upset the Bills.
I'm excited to see how Brian Daboll calls plays against Wink Martindale. The Bills should spread the field out and create one on one matchups for Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley. Both receivers dominate against man coverage which is what the Ravens do. An exciting matchup will be when Josh Allen chooses to run the football. Will the Ravens linebackers be willing to meet him in the hole? Patrick Queen is going to come with it all and the collision is going to be epic. The Ravens just had an extremely physical matchup against Derrick Henry, so they will be ready for what Allen brings with his legs. The Bills have an advantage on the outside. While the Ravens have two elite corners, they don't have the right guy to stop Diggs. Marcus Peters has the speed to run with him, but he bites too hard on double moves. Marlon Humphrey is a top 5 corner, but his game is physicality. Humphrey won't be able to run with Diggs and Allen should be able to connect with him downfield. The Bills should have a day and dominate the Ravens today.
Player of the Game: Josh Allen QB Bills
Final Score: Ravens 17 Bills 34
Browns @ Chiefs
There is no better coach coming off of a bye week than Andy Reid. Reid paired up with Mahomes, seems like an unbeatable duo, but there is a formula to upsetting Kansas City. The Browns need to come out fast. It's been three weeks since the Chiefs' starters last played and the Browns are coming off of their first playoff victory in 26 seasons. The Browns are red hot right now and need to take advantage of the momentum that they have. Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb need the ball in their hands. By running the football, the Browns will keep the Chiefs on the sideline. Defensively, the Browns can't let Tyreek Hill get over the top of the defense. Browns FS, Andrew Sendejo, is one of the worst safeties in the NFL which makes Tyreek Hill absolutely terrifying as a deep threat. Browns defensive coordinator, Joe Woods, needs to get creative when sending blitzes. Myles Garrett can naturally generate pressure, but without Olivier Vernon, another pass rusher needs to step up for Cleveland. In order for Cleveland to upset the Chiefs, their offense needs to start the game on fire and the Browns need to create pressure creatively.
The Chiefs need to win this game with promise. All season long, they've been letting teams hang around and it will eventually come back to bite them. Travis Kelce is a walking mismatch. There isn't a linebacker or safety on the Browns roster who will be able to guard him. He is going to have a historic performance on Sunday. Kelce is the ultimate red zone threat and if you double team him, that will give Tyreek Hill a chance for a monster game. The Browns are a really favorable matchup for the Chiefs, but Kansas City could come out slow after having practically three weeks without playing a game. Defensively, the Chiefs need to get outside pressure on the Baker Mayfield. Steve Spagnuolo needs to send Tyrann Mathieu on blitzes to force Mayfield to step up in the pocket. The Chiefs need to keep their foot on the gas in order to beat the Browns. They can't look ahead towards the AFC Championship or else it will bite them in the butt. Andy Reid is so good off of bye weeks, I expect the Chiefs to come out swinging and win in a high scoring game.
Player of the Game: Travis Kelce TE Chiefs
Final Score: Browns 26 Chiefs 37
Buccaneers @ Saints
It is really hard to beat a team three times in a season, let alone the greatest player of all time (Tom Brady) three times in a season, but that is exactly what the Saints might do this week. The Saints have dominated the Buccaneers both times they played this season and the Bucs genuinely struggled to stop Taylor Heinicke last week. This is going to be the Michael Thomas breakout week. He hasn't had a vintage performance all year, but each week he gets more healthy and now has a chance to dominate against the Bucs defense. The Saints absolutely embarrassed the Buccaneers last time they played and now New Orleans has their number one receiver back. As long as the Saints don't turn the football over and play relatively clean football, they should win this game.
While the Buccaneers haven't had their way against the Saints this season, there is a recipe for an upset. That recipe starts on the defensive side of the football. Shaq Barrett, Ndamokung Suh, and Jason Pierre-Paul need to get pressure without having to bring additional blitzers. Todd Bowles needs to double team Michael Thomas and the Buccaneers to gang tackle Alvin Kamara. The Buccaneers to sell out on the run and force Drew Brees to throw the ball downfield. Offensively, Tom Brady needs to throw the ball to Antonio Brown. Brown has been playing like his old self the past few weeks and if he is in the slot, there is nobody that will be able to stop him. The Buccaneers need to air the football out on this Saints defense. It will be a challenge, but if anyone could do it, it will be Brady.
I expect this the Buccaneers to play much better than the previous two times they faced off against the Saints. I think the Buccaneers find ways to force Brees to throw the ball downfield and intercept him. The Buccaneers offense will click in a win or go home game and they will upset the New Orleans Saints in what will be Drew Brees' final game.
Player of the Game: Antonio Brown WR Buccaneers
Final Score: Buccaneers 31 Saints 29