NFL DIVISIONAL ROUND PICKS

2023-01-19 · 7 min read · NFL/Football
NFL Divisional Round Picks

Ray Seebeck and Cary Edmondson via USA TODAY Sports

The field of potential Super Bowl winners has been widdled down to eight following a weekend chocked full of nail-biting results.
A single score decided every contest except for the Monday Nighter, as the Wild Card weekend was truly wild, filled with a remarkable comeback and many back-and-forth affairs.
Three of the four teams that advanced to the conference championships last season are still alive to return to that point, while the Jaguars and New York Giants are making the most of their first playoff appearance in years.
Here is a look at all four matchups this weekend and my predictions.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs
It’s cliché to coin terms like a tale of two halves, but it’s hard to think of another phrase to describe how Doug Pederson’s Jaguars were so bad in the opening two quarters versus the Los Angeles Chargers, then came to life in half-number two.
Trevor Lawrence’s playoff debut began in nightmare fashion tossing four picks in the opening half before he showed why he was a generational talent.
He ended the game with four touchdown passes as Jacksonville completed the third-biggest comeback in NFL playoff history, winning 31-30 despite trailing by 27 points and losing the turnover battle by five.
The Jags have only allowed six points combined in its previous two road games.
Christian Kirk has a TD grab in back-to-back encounters, Travis Etienne has rushed for over 100 yards in two of his last three games, and Foyesade Oluokun continues to be a hard man to block, registering 13 tackles, five on his own versus the Chargers.
Andy Reid’s Chiefs head into the postseason on a five-game winning streak with an opportunity to advance to the AFC Championship Game for a fifth successive campaign.
Patrick Mahomes had a sizzling regular season, breaking Drew Brees’ passing yards record, while he had plenty of dependable receivers to throw to, with at least seven different players registering a catch in their final 14 affairs.
Nick Bolton was all over the field with 180 tackles over the 2022-23 campaign, while Chris Jones registered 15.5 sacks.
KC has only lost one matchup at Arrowhead this season.
  • Prediction- Jacksonville Jaguars 24-37 Kansas City Chiefs
There is no quit in these Jags, who are riding an emotional high like none other.
However, I have a hard time seeing Jacksonville stay with a Chiefs team that can pour it on offensively and match anyone stride for stride, while they also have a solid defensive line to be aware of at all times.
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Daniel Jones answered a lot of the nay-sayers in Minnesota last Sunday as the Giants pivot was sensational, tossing two touchdowns, one to Daniel Bellinger and another to Isaiah Hodgins, helping his team beat the Vikings 31-24.
Saquon Barkley also found the end zone twice in his playoff debut, while the New York secondary handled the top receiver in the regular season quite well, holding Justin Jefferson to just 47 yards.
They have lost their last three games versus the Eagles and have not emerged victorious when facing them in the City of Brotherly Love since 2013.
Nick Sirianni’s team struggled near the tail end of the season, minus Jalen Hurts.
Still, their star quarterback returned for their regular season finale against the Giants, helping Philly to a 22-16 triumph.
While they lost two of their final three regular-season affairs, Philly was among the elite teams in the NFC throughout the campaign.
The Eagles scored the third-most points per game in the NFL (389.1), allowed the second-fewest per contest (301.5), plus they led the league in sacks (70) and were third in turnover differential (+8).
A.J. Brown turned it on through the air as the campaign wore on, racking up the fourth-most receiving yards in the regular season (1,496), Miles Sanders was fifth in rushing, while Darius Slay and James Bradberry were among the best in the league when it comes to passes defended.
  • Prediction- New York Giants 17-24 Philadelphia Eagles
New York failed to register a sack last weekend, and although they were effective through the air against the Vikings, they might find it a little harder to move the ball against perhaps the best pass-coverage team in the NFL, while Philly also led the league with 70 sacks.
Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills
We can expect some high emotions when the Cincinnati Bengals travel to Orchard Park on Sunday to face the Buffalo Bills.
That’s not just because a spot in the AFC title game is at stake but also because these teams failed to finish their Monday Night Football contest earlier this month when Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest on the field.
Joe Burrow threw for 209 yards and had a 99.6 rating in their Wild Card victory over Baltimore (24-17), Ja’Marr Chase put together another splendid outing registering nine catches, one for a score, while Joe Mixon only managed 39 yards on 11 carries.
The Bengals’ secondary has been exceptional against tight ends all season, allowing only three passing touchdowns to them in 2022-23, though they allowed a 92.0 rating to Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley last week.
Buffalo’s victory over Miami last Sunday (34-31) was a little too close for comfort as Josh Allen tossed a pair of interceptions, but in the end managed to maintain his perfect playoff form at home throughout his career, finding Dawson Knox, Cole Beasley and Gabe Davis each for a score, while Stefon Diggs caught seven passes for 114 yards.
Last week was just the second time all season that Sean McDermott’s team gave up over 30 points in a game, as the Bills have allowed the second-fewest points per game in 2022-23 (17.9) and were the seventh-best defensive unit on third down, plus the second-most efficient team on offense, averaging 397.6 yards per contest.
  • Prediction Cincinnati Bengals 24-27 Buffalo Bills (OT)
This is probably the most challenging matchup to call, as they both have a talented corps of receivers, along with two of the most clutch quarterbacks in the league.
I am giving the Bills an edge because Devin Singletary has been more consistent rushing the ball than Mixon, while Buffalo’s secondary could match up well against Cincy.
Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers
One of the oldest playoff rivalries in NFL history will be renewed on Sunday as the Dallas Cowboys seek revenge on the San Francisco 49ers, who knocked them out of the postseason a year ago.
On that occasion, Dak Prescott made a big blunder, running the ball with no timeouts, costing the Cowboys a chance to come back, but earlier this week, he exercised many playoff demons with four touchdown passes, while failing to toss an interception.
Dalton Schultz had a pair of TD grabs in their victory over the Buccaneers, with the others coming courtesy of CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup.
Their defensive line had two sacks on that occasion, which was no surprise given they led the league in pressure rating this season (35%) and, as a team, registered the third-most sacks (54).
For a half, it looked as though the Niners would have their hands full against the Seahawks, but Brock Purdy and company turned it on in the final two quarters as Mr Irrelevant had a 131.5 rating with his offense putting up 37+ points for the fourth consecutive time.
Just about all of their offensive weapons played a part in the victory over Seattle as Christian McCaffrey ran for 119 yards and had a TD grab, Deeboo Samuel made six catches for 133 yards and a score, while Elijah Mitchell also caught a touchdown pass.
Nick Bosa, who led the league in sacks during the regular season, didn’t register one last week, while Deommodore Lenoir had an interception, with the defense only allowing 24+ points on three occasions all season.
  • Prediction- Dallas Cowboys 24-33 San Francisco 49ers
Prescott will be coming into this game full of confidence, and I expect he and his receivers to cause problems for the Niners’ secondary, but Kyle Shanahan’s crew always seem to make a play or two to turn the tide in their favour.
The Cowboys, I believe, will have to play a near-perfect game to upset San Fran, and even that might not be enough.
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By: Joel Lefevre

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