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2022 NFL Playoffs Divisional Round: Picks, Predictions, and Best Bets
Now that the NFL regular season is over, it’s easy to reflect back on just how historic it was. It was the first season in NFL history that saw an extra regular-season game, and was the first to have a third Wild Card team from each conference in the playoffs. But now that the season is over, its time to buckle down and get ready for Super Bowl LVI.
The first round of the playoffs saw some incredible games that set up even more incredible matchups in round two. Below I’ll break down all the playoff games happening the weekend, giving exact score predictions as well!
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Game #1: Cincinnati Bengals @ Tennessee Titans (-3)
When: Saturday, January 22nd at 4:30 PM EST
Where:CBS, Paramount +
The Bengals are riding high after their narrow victory over the Las Vegas Raiders in the Wild Card Round. This victory broke a 31-year playoff victory drought, which was one of the longest across all four major sports. Cincinnati will now have to travel to Nashville to take on the #1 overall seed Tennesse Titans.
This Bengals offense is one of the best in the NFL: Led by QB Joe Burrow, RB Joe Mixon, and Wide Receivers Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd, the Bengals offense has scored an average of 29 points per game over their last four games. The Bengals will have to monitor the statuses of Defensive End Trey Hendrickson and Defensive Tackle Larry Ogunjobi, who are both questionable coming into this game against the Titans.
The Titans had the first week of the playoffs off after receiving the #1 seed in the AFC. They are also expecting the return of star RB Derrick Henry, who has been injured since week 8. The Titans went 12-5 in the regular season behind an effective run game, but may be proven vulnerable to the pass after they posted the 25th worst passing defense numbers.
Prediction: Bengals 31-Titans 28
Game #2: San Francisco 49ers @ Green Bay Packers (-4.5)
When: Saturday, January 22nd at 8:15 PM EST
A game that makes NFL historians shake with excitement, the Packers and the 49ers will meet in the postseason for the 9th time since 1995, with the series tied at 4-4. The Niners punched their ticket to the divisional round after upsetting the Cowboys in the first round, while the Packers were granted the 1st round bye.
These two teams faced off once in the regular season, where the Packers jumped out to a quick 17-0 lead. However, after a high-scoring second half by the Niners, the Packers had to rely on a last-second field goal to secure the win, 30-28.
Although it’s tempting to pick the upset here, I just can’t go with the Niners due to the up-and-down play of Jimmy Garoppolo. The Packers will have some strong home-field advantage playing at Lambo in the cold as well.
Prediction: Packers 31-49ers 24
Game #3: Los Angeles Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3)
When: Sunday, January 23rd at 3:00 PM EST
Brady and the Buccaneers lost to the Rams in Week 3 in LA, 34-24. Tampa will have to monitor offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs’ injury status closely, as he will be an essential piece of an O-Line that has to deal with Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd and Von Miller.
Although Matt Stafford (27 of 38, 343 yards, 4 TDs) let it fly against the Buccs in their first matchup, I definitely think the defending champs will be able to grab the win at home.
Prediction: Buccaneers 33-Rams 23
Game #4: Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5)
When: Sunday, January 23rd at 6:30 PM EST
Where: CBS, Paramount +
Both of these teams played very well in their wild-card matchups. The Chiefs are at home in this one, so the Bills will need a special performance out of Josh Allen in order to get the win on the road.
The Bills punished Kansas City 38-20 in KC in Week 5, in a game that saw Josh Allen throw for 315 yards and 3 TDs.
The Chiefs had no luck running the ball in that game, except for the few times that Mahomes was able to scramble for a few yards. This proves that the Bills are capable of stopping the electric Chiefs’ offense, but only when they are at their best.
On Saturday, the Bills became the NFL’s first team to not punt, attempt a field goal, or commit a turnover all game. Every drive ended in a touchdown until they knelt out the victory in the fourth quarter.
On Sunday, the Chiefs scored on six consecutive drives, with 5 passing TDs coming from Patrick Mahomes.
Both of these teams are firing on all cylinders, which makes this a hard game to pick for obvious reasons. However, I find it hard to go against the Chiefs at home, especially with their improved defense.
Predictions: Chiefs 34-Bills 28