NFL Game Picks: Divisional Round

Story posted January 20, 2022 in Sports, CommRadio by Matthew McLaughlin

Super Wild Card Weekend was interesting, to say the least. The Cincinnati Bengals won a playoff game for the first time in 31 years and the Buffalo Bills smashed the New England Patriots in one of the most impressive wins in franchise history.

The No. 1 seed in the AFC may get its best player back and the NFC is in PURE ANARCHY.

Who will reach the doorstep of the Super Bowl after this weekend’s games? Time to find out.

No. 4 Cincinnati Bengals (10-7) vs. No. 1 Tennessee Titans (12-5)

This week, running back Derrick Henry returned to contact practice which is a scary sign for a Bengals squad going in with three defensive tackles on the injury report.

However, the Titans aren’t invincible and if this game goes to a shootout, it’ll come down to Joe Burrow versus Ryan Tannehill and after his playoff debut, Burrow has solidified himself as a franchise-altering quarterback.

While the Bengals don’t have the same depth, they have Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase who will come up big on the brightest stage of their young NFL careers.

Prediction: Bengals 34, Titans 27

No. 3 Buffalo Bills (11-6) vs. No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs (12-5)

The Chiefs didn’t miss a step against the Steelers, scorching Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s defense for six touchdowns and 478 total yards. The three-headed monster of Travis Kelce, who threw his first touchdown pass, Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill is working to perfection.

So what could the Bills exploit to escape Kansas City with a win? They must exploit the secondary, which gave up nine plays of more than 40 yards during the regular season.

With Bills quarterback Josh Allen’s quick release and wideout Stefon Diggs’ incredible route running, the Bills are just the team to give Mahomes and co. a fight for the ages.

Prediction: Bills 40, Chiefs 37

No. 6 San Francisco 49ers (10-7) vs. No. 1 Green Bay Packers (13-4)

A fully rested Packers squad will host the 49ers, who escaped AT&T Stadium with a win in the waning seconds. Jimmy Garappolo had a pedestrian performance, completing 16 of 25 pass attempts for 172 yards and an interception, but this is Aaron Rodgers.

While Deebo Samuel has emerged as a legitimate Swiss Army knife for the 49ers, coach Kyle Shanahan has stretched Samuel too thin as the wideout hasn’t posted 100 yards or more in receiving or rushing since Week 16.

The Packers are too hungry to get back to the NFC Championship and will force Garappolo into multiple turnovers and count on Rodgers dropping off some dimes to Davante Adams.

Prediction: Packers 28, 49ers 17

No. 4 Los Angeles Rams vs. No. 2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Two words. One name: Tom Brady. That’s it.

There is no doubt that Matthew Stafford deserves a Super Bowl ring for suffering the dumpster fire of an organization that is the Detroit Lions, however, Stafford is too inconsistent.

By the end of the season, Stafford tied for second-most touchdowns but also tied with Trevor Lawrence for most interceptions in the league. Turnovers are backbreakers in the playoffs and how many times does Brady have to win for fans to learn not to bet against him?

Prediction: Buccaneers 35, Rams 31

Matthew McLaughlin is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email mem6936@psu.edu.