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NFL: AFC Divisional Round Preview/Predictions

The Wild-Card round of the NFL Playoffs has just about come and gone. With only one matchup left tonight, the Cowboys vs. the Buccaneers at 8:15 pm on ESPN. While the NFC is still awaiting that game, to decide the divisional round matchups. The AFC matchups, on the other hand, are set in stone.

The #1 seed Kansas City Chiefs will host the #4 seed Jacksonville Jaguars, this Saturday. Then the next day, the #2 seed Buffalo Bills will host the #3 seed Cincinnati Bengals. Both games could be pretty solid matchups. Below, I will give synopsis of the matchup, as well as my prediction for who moves onto the AFC Championship game.

#1 Kansas City (-9) v. #4 Jacksonville- January 21, 4:30 PM ET

This Saturday, T-Law and the Jaguars head into Arrowhead Stadium to face Mahomes and the Chiefs. If you had told most NFL fans back in September that this would be a Divisional Round game. They probably would have laughed in your face. Well, except maybe overly confident Jaguars fans.

But under a new coaching staff, captained by HC Doug Pederson. The Jags WON the AFC South and pulled off a 27-point comeback against the Chargers, this past weekend. For the chance to make it to their first AFC championship game since 2017 against the Patriots. Their comeback against the Chargers, showed that you can’t exactly count them out.

But going against the league’s #1 offense in KC, will be a harder challenge to keep up with. Not to mention, playing in a stadium as the away team, that has the Guinness World Record for loudest outdoor stadium (142.2 decibels). The odds will be stacked against the Jags. Even though that, the betting line opens with KC only being 9 point favorites. Which means there’s some hope for the seemingly always rebuilding Jaguars.

The two teams faced each other once during the regular season in week 10. The Chiefs were the victors, by 27-17. Which is possibly the main factor, in why the betting line isn’t as high as some might think it would be. Mahomes threw for 331 yards and 4 TDs, while Trevor Lawrence threw for a solid 259 yards and 2 TDs.

As long as Lawrence doesn’t have a first half like he did against the Chargers (0 TD, 4 INT), then the Jags should keep the score within the betting line. But, with that being said, the Chiefs offense is much more explosive than the Chargers. On the ground (Pacheco, Mckinnon) and in the air (Mahomes, Kelce). Which is the main reason I don’t see the Chiefs letting this one slip away.

Prediction: Chiefs 31-Jags 24. 

#2 Buffalo (-4) v. #3 Cincinnati- January 22, 3 PM ET

This is essentially the make-up of the game that was cancelled, rightfully so, due to the tragic injury Bills Safety Damar Hamlin suffered, in the 1st quarter of their week 17 matchup. Hamlin has since been released from the hospital, visited his teammates this past Saturday, and cheered them on from home Sunday.

Both teams had closer games in their Wild-Card matchups, than the experts/most of the public thought they would. With the Bills barely escaping the Dolphins (34-31), mostly due to Miami’s horrible time management near the end. And the Bengals beat the Ravens by one score (24-17). Thanks mostly to Sam Hubbard‘s 98-yard fumble return for a Touchdown, on a Tyler Huntley botched QB sneak attempt at the goal line.

The Cincinnati defense will need to tighten things up against Josh Allen. They let up over 350 yards of offense to a semi-injured backup QB in Tyler Huntley. Unless they can pressure enough/win the turnover battle against Allen and Co. It will be a long game for that secondary.

Almost the same for the Buffalo defense as well. They let the Dolphin’s 3rd string QB, Skylar Thompson, go on a 17-0 run to close out the first half. Which isn’t something you’d expect, from a team that was the biggest favorite in NFL Wild-Card history. And from a defense, that was top 5 or 10 in every major defensive stat, besides opponent 4D Conv% (21st).

Buffalo opens as 4 point favorites. There is a bit of snow in the forecast for game-day at New Era Field in Orchard Park. Not enough to make a difference in quality of play though. This game could go either way. But, I’m gonna give Cincinnati the edge in this matchup. Joe Burrow‘s ability to make something out of nothing in the pocket, will be the x-factor.

Prediction: Bengals 28-Bills 23

So, this means my AFC Championship game prediction, is Chiefs v. Bengals. No matter what happens this weekend. Both AFC matchups will be solid games to sit in your favorite chair and enjoy.

 

 

 

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