NFL Divisional Round Preview – Who Reaches The Conference Championship Games?
This past weekend and into Monday night, we saw the six Super Wildcard Weekend games take place in the NFL.
The six winning teams from those games joined the top two seeds in the AFC and NFC, the Tennessee Titans and the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round next weekend, with a place in the Conference Championship on the line.
In this article, we will review the six Wildcard Weekend games that have just been played before we give you our tips for the four Divisional Matchups that will take place this week.
As always, bet365 Sport will be providing us with the odds for these games as the site offers a wide range of American Football betting throughout the regular season and into the post season too, right the way through to the Super Bowl in February.
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So let’s begin with a look at how the six Wildcard games this weekend panned out and who made it through into next weekend’s four games.
Super Wildcard Weekend Results
Las Vegas Raiders 19-26 Cincinnati Bengals
Just two years after being the worst team in the NFL, the Cincinnati Bengals have won their first playoff game for 31 years. It wasn’t a spectacular performance, though Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase proved hugely effective once again, but it was a controversial one due to a touchdown being allowed to stand after an official had blown a whistle with the ball in the air into the endzone.
Despite that stroke of good fortune, the Bengals did deserve the win despite the Raiders putting up a spirited performance.
New England Patriots 17-47 Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills made a statement with a thumping victory over the New England Patriots, setting an NFL record for scoring a touchdown on all seven of their possessions. Josh Allen completed five touchdown passes, a record for the Bills in the playoffs, as the comprehensively crushed their divisional rivals the New England Patriots at the Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The Patriots were no match for the rampaging Bills on this showing and this was certainly the most impressive team performance in the playoffs.
Philadelphia Eagles 15-31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Don’t be fooled by the score, the Philadelphia Eagles were never in this game and it didn’t take a particularly inspiring Buccaneers performance to beat them comprehensively. Tom Brady was solid rather than spectacular in this win, but that was all he needed to be as the Eagles struggled to gain any first downs against the Bucs defense.
Tougher tasks lie in wait for the Bucs later on in the playoffs than this, but a solid win here means they look well set up for the Divisional Round this week.
San Francisco 49ers 23-17 Dallas Cowboys
The only lower seeded team to earn a victory this week, the San Francisco 49ers high tempo of play completely threw the Cowboys who for three quarters of the game, looked like a deer caught in the headlights. The Cowboys did almost mount a late comeback but time ran out before they could get their final play started and in the end the 49ers hung on for a deserved win.
Whether the 49ers can repeat this level of intensity in every game they will face in the playoffs, all of which will be on the road, remains to be seen but this was a superb performance.
Pittsburgh Steelers 21-42 Kansas City Chiefs
A second quarter blitz of three touchdowns after the Steelers had edged into the lead put the Chiefs well in control of this game and by the end of the third quarter they had extended that lead to 35-7. Patrick Mahomes once again was immense throwing for 404 yards and 5 touchdowns in another stellar playoff performance to lead the Chiefs to a thumping home victory.
Ben Roethlisberger’s expected retirement makes this loss his last game for the Steelers after what has been a Hall of Fame career but on the day, the best team clearly won this game and easily too.
Arizona Cardinals 11-34 Los Angeles Rams
The Arizona Cardinals once again fluffed their lines in the big game as the Los Angeles Rams big playmakers came good in a dominant win for the Rams on Monday night. Odell Beckham Junior, Matt Stafford and Von Miller all had key plays that gave the Rams the advantage which Kyler Murray and the Cardinals just could do little to stop.
The Rams form has been up and down of late but top players produce the goods at the key times and the fact the Rams superstars did that, bodes well for them in the playoffs as they hope to complete in Super Bowl LIV at their home stadium.
NFL Divisional Round Match-Ups And Tips
Cincinnati Bengals @ Tennessee Titans
The Titans are the -3.5 favourites for the win here on the Spread, and 5/9 on the moneyline (8/5 on the Bengals) and for two teams that have been up and down at times this season, given the Titans have had a weeks rest, are likely to have Derrick Henry back and are at home, that feels about right.
The Bengals will definitely be targeting the Titans corners and safeties with Ja’Marr Chase likely to be the key man for them, but if Tennessee have Henry back then they can control the clock and it is hard to see the Bengals defense being able to stop Henry, and also give enough cover to make sure AJ Brown and Julio Jones are not a threat.
This will be close and I think the handicappers have got this bang on the money, but I am going for a Tennessee win here.
Prediction – Bengals 21-24 Titans
San Francisco 49ers @ Green Bay Packers
I have to admit I was hugely impressed with the 49ers last week. It was almost as if they decided to raise their game two notches compared to their regular season performances and Dallas, who were sluggish and slow, paid the penalty. I don’t expect the experienced Packers, especially in Green Bay, to make the same mistake here.
Deebo Samuel is a massive threat and his dual threat as a receiver and running back will mean that the Packers are going to have to pay him very close attention, but by the same token, the 49ers defense are going to have their hands full with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense too.
I can see this one being another close game, but I think the weather and home field advantage, plus that extra week of rest, sways this in the Packers favour.
Prediction – San Francisco 49ers 31-38 Green Bay Packers
Los Angeles Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
These two teams have become templates for trying to land immediate success in the NFL and Tampa achieved that last season and have a chance of doing so again this. The Rams are following that template too and if anything, I think the Rams have more playmakers and high quality players than the Bucs do.
In fact, I think the fact this game is in Florida also won’t faze the Rams as they are used to sunnier weather and I am sure they’d much rather face Tampa in Florida, than the Packers in Wisconsin. But of course the same is true for the Bucs.
I feel this will be a very close one and while it is never wise to go against the greatest of all time, I think the Rams could land a very big surprise win here.
Prediction – Los Angeles Rams 28-24 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs
This game has the potential to be one of the highest scoring and perhaps the most entertaining of all the Divisional games this week and perhaps an NFL classic. These two teams have met this season, Buffalo winning when the Chiefs were struggling but the Chiefs defeated the Bills in last year’s playoffs and after big wins for both on Wildcard weekend, they come into this game in great shape.
The Bills look so solid all round with an excellent defense and an offense that is incredibly difficult to stop, especially with Josh Allen back to his best. However, you can pretty much say the same for the Chiefs and with both quarterbacks throwing five touchdown passes last week, this could be a shootout.
Again, this will be close and I do feel many points will be scored but it will be turnovers that are the key and I can just see the Bills defense having the edge here and that may well decide this game.
Prediction – Buffalo Bills 45-42 Kansas City Chiefs