NFL Divisional Round Predictions


Liam Bradford, Sports Editor

After a jam-packed wild card weekend that sent six teams home for the season, the NFL divisional round is upon us. 

There will be two games on each day this weekend. Saturday’s games include a 1:30 PM PT matchup between the Tennessee Titans(12-5) and visiting Cincinnati Bengals(11-7, 1-0) at Nissan Stadium; As well as a 5:15 PM PT matchup between the Green Bay Packers(13-4) and visiting San Francisco 49ers(11-7, 1-0) at Lambeau Field. 

On Sunday, the Los Angeles Rams(13-5, 1-0) will head East to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers(14-4, 1-0) at 12 PM PT at Raymond James Stadium. The weekend’s final game will feature the Kansas City Chiefs(13-5, 1-0) playing host to the Buffalo Bills(12-6, 1-0) at 3:30 PM PT at Arrowhead Stadium. 

The first-seed Titans are expected to see the return of superstar Derrick Henry, who is referred to by most, including myself, as the best running back in the NFL. I think that Saturday’s first game between Henry’s Titans and Joe Burrow’s fourth-seed Bengals will be the best game of the postseason so far. 

Although the Bengals are the hottest team in the league right now with an absolutely explosive offense, I think that with the return of Henry, the Titans will be able to pull off the home win, 36-35. The battle between Joe Mixon/Ja’Marr Chase and Derrick Henry/AJ Brown will be one for the ages. However, after earning a bye week, Tennessee is particularly well-rested, and I believe their defense will come up big down the stretch. 

The second matchup on Saturday between the sixth-seed 49ers and the first-seed Packers will feature two very well-rounded teams with top ten potential on both sides of the ball. The Green Bay Packers offense features the best wide receiver in the league, Davante Adams, and a top-three QB, Aaron Rodgers. 

The underdog 49er’s offense is highlighted by superstars Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, as well as a stellar offensive line. Running back Elijah Mitchell has been playing exceptionally well lately and was one of the main reasons San Francisco came out on top in the wild card round against the Dallas Cowboys. However, since question marks surround each of the 49er’s best two defenders in Nick Bosa and Fred Warner, who are each dealing with injuries, I believe that the Packers will win 30-24. 

Sunday’s first game features the two-seed Bucs against the three-seed Rams. Tampa Bay is short quite a few players, while the Rams are coming off a dominant victory over division rivals, Arizona. Tom Brady against Von Miller, Aaron Donald, and Jalen Ramsey will be a battle for the ages in a game that I believe features the two best teams in the NFC. 

The Bucs and Rams have already met this season with the Rams getting the better of Brady’s team, however it is nearly impossible to pick against Tom Brady in the playoffs. My heart tells me to choose the Rams. However, my gut can never pick against playoff Brady. My final prediction for this game is a 33-27 overtime win for LA. 

Similar to the Rams vs. Bucs game, the final matchup of the divisional round will feature the two best teams in the conference, between the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs. Two young stud quarterbacks will go head to head for the second time this season, between Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes. Each team has excellent supporting casts around them. 

For the Chiefs, aside from Mahomes, their standout players are wide receiver Tyreek Hill, tight end Travis Kelce, and free safety Tyrann Mathieu. For the red hot Bills, aside from Allen, their standout players are wide receiver Stefon Diggs, tight end Dawson Knox, defensive back Tre’Davious White, and free safety Micah Hyde. I believe that after four intense quarters of competitive football, Mahomes and the Chiefs will come out on top, 38-34, to send Kansas City to their fourth consecutive AFC championship game.