Divisional round of NFL playoffs calls for expertise, ambition

Buccaneers, Chiefs, Packers, Ravens predicted to move on to Conference Chamionship


courtesy of Patrick Smith/Getty Images/TNS

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) walks off the field alongside head coach Bruce Arians after a 31-23 victory against the Washington Football Team in the NFC Wild Card Playoffs at FedExField in Landover, Maryland, on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021.

Kevin Vera

On to Divisional weekend. In Wildcard weekend the second, fifth and sixth seeds won from both the AFC and NFC. Looking back, the best game was the Browns versus the Steelers. It was extremely impressive how they came out and scored 14 points in the first five minutes of the game. Cleveland went out and made a statement. They showed to the football world that the days of the Browns being the Browns are finally over.

However, the Washington Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke cannot go unmentioned. The man played with all heart and truly gave WFT a chance. Heinicke showed that he deserves that chance he’s been fighting to stay in the NFL.

So after several great games this past weekend, Super Bowl LV is just around the corner and eight teams are still left with a fighting chance. We finally get the see if the number one seeds can stay atop of their conferences.

Saturday, January 16

Los Angeles Rams (#6) versus Green Bay Packers (#1)

I don’t think the Rams are sitting in a good position ahead of playing the probable MVP and the Packers. John Wolford is still day-to-day after the scary hit during the Seattle game. When Wolford was taken out, Jared Goff then came in and was not throwing the football well. You could clearly see that his right thumb was still not 100%. Not only is the quarterback situation still up in the air, but Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp are also day-to-day as well. Although Coach Sean McVay says he expects them to be fine for Saturday, it’s still something to keep an eye on. It is exciting to know that we will see the Packers offense against the Rams defense. Watching Davante Adams against Jalen Ramsey will be such a fun matchup to watch. With the Green Bay weather and the uncertainty of the starting quarterback, it’s probable that this weekend will be the last game for the Rams of the season.

Prediction: Packers 31-26

Baltimore Ravens (#5) versus Buffalo Bills (#2)

So the elephant is finally out of the room. Lamar Jackson can play in the playoffs and got his first win. The Ravens got a tough fought win against the Titans and it is going to be the same this time against the Bills. Look yes, the Bills have had a great year and Josh Allen just had a phenomenal MVP type season but it’s all coming to an end. In the Wildcard round, the Bills looked to be in a little bit of trouble in the first half against Rivers and the Colts. The Colts played well and only lost the lead with 14 seconds left in the first half. Then the Colts were on the verge of coming back at the end of the game. I believe if Buffalo needs to start off hot if they want to win this game. If the Ravens start off hot and let Lamar Jackson run all day, which I think will happen, then it’s going to be the first time since 2012 that we will see the Ravens in the AFC championship game.

Prediction: Ravens 33-28

Sunday, January 17

Cleveland Browns (#6) versus Kansas City Chiefs (#1)

Currently, the Browns are feeling great about themselves and have hope that they can upset the reigning Super Bowl champs. The biggest question for this game will be how well will Kansas City defend Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt? Cleveland’s running game is great, ranking third in the league and having two running backs that can easily run the ball and still be efficient receivers. Against Pittsburgh, Chubb had 76 rushing yards and 69 receiving while Hunt had 48 rushing yards and 13 receiving. The Chiefs need to hold these two back as much as possible to have an easy day at arrowhead. Kansas City will be Kansas City and score points so it’s going to be fun to see how well the Chiefs defense will play. Honestly, this game is going to be a shootout. Baker Mayfield has great confidence going into this game so it’s going to be a fun battle against Patrick Mahomes. Cleveland is a great team and finally getting over their old ways but with Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill all rested the Super Bowl 54 champs will be just fine doing what they do best, scoring points and making it to their third consecutive AFC championship game.

Prediction: Chiefs 45-38

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (#5) versus New Orleans Saints (#2)

Tom Brady against Drew Brees. Two of the best go head to head to see who’s got the most left in the tank. In the Wildcard round, both quarterbacks had good days getting a bunch of passing yards. Brady finished with 381 and Brees with 265. But here the real stars of the games are going to be the running backs and receivers for both teams. After a great Wildcard weekend for Leonard Fournette and Mike Evans they will shine against the fourth-ranked defense. Even though the Saints have a very underrated defense I think Brady will work his magic. Both teams had to grind a little bit to win in Wildcard weekend and it’s going to be the same here. In a close game, Brady wins to make his first NFC championship game appearance and sadly there’s a good chance it will be the last game of the New Orleans icon, Drew Brees.

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-23