NFL Divisional Round Preview

Sam Dare, Staff Writer

The Super Wild Card weekend has finished; it was all we could’ve hoped for and more. Historic comebacks. High-scoring matchups. Hijinks. Everything you could want in a weekend of playoff football, you got.


To recap:

Seattle looked like they were hanging in for a bit with San Francisco, and then the wheels fell off. Rookie QB Brock Purdy had an absolute masterclass game, scoring and moving SFs offense at will. They fully dominated the Seahawks, winning 41-23. and easily had the most impressive performance out of any of the Wild Card teams. Seattle played solidly, but SF just overwhelmed them. The 49ers look very good and have a great match coming up against the Cowboys.

Jaguars mounted a historic comeback to sneak past the Chargers. Trevor Lawrence had one of the worst halves by a quarterback I’ve ever seen and followed that up with an amazing one. After being down 27-0, they won 31-30. Truly unbelievable. I’m rooting for them against the Chiefs because, unfortunately, I think they’ll need it. 

The Bills barely snuck by the Dolphins, 34-31. Both teams looked awful in one of the messiest games I’ve seen in a while, but the Dolphins, at least, had an excuse. They were running with their third-string quarterback, and their receivers couldn’t catch a cold. Meanwhile, the Bills and QB Josh Allen just played poorly. In a game they should’ve won by a mile, they barely made it to the next round and will have plenty to go over in practice before the Bengals.

The Giants came through with the underdog victory over the Vikings, 31-24. As expected by most NFL fans, the Vikings fell apart once the game actually mattered. This team was the definition of fraudulent throughout the year, but it doesn’t take away from their accomplishments. They could be very good in the next few years. The Giants looked excellent. QB Daniel Jones has found his stride under head coach Brian Daboll, and the defense locked down the game’s best receiver, Justin Jefferson. This team will be exciting to watch against their division rival, the Eagles.

The Bengals were a few lucky plays away from losing to the ailing and struggling Ravens in their first-round matchup. They snuck by 24-17. This game was 17-17 until a poor play call on the 2-yard line led to a 98-yard fumble return touchdown for the Bengals’ defense. And then, the game-tying hail mary ball went through Ravens’ receiver James Proche’s hands. The Ravens kept this game way closer than I thought they would, backup quarterback starting and all, so credit to them. But the Bengals didn’t play great. They’ll certainly have much to work on this week before their matchup with the Bills.

The Cowboys smacked Brady and the Bucs, winning 31-14, despite Cowboys kicker Brett Maher’s best attempts not to win. Maher missed four extra points in a row, which is honestly impressive. But the Cowboys played a great game. Quarterback Dak Prescott cooked, dicing up the Bucs’ defense. The defense stifled the Bucs’ offense, completely staunching Tom Brady, though it hasn’t been super difficult to do that to the Bucs this year. As for the Bucs, fans can’t be upset, as this was basically the expected outcome. They weren’t good. They only got into the playoffs because they were the least terrible team in a division full of terrible teams. Who knows if Brady will be behind the wheel next year, only time will tell. The Cowboys played a great game. Unfortunately, they’re matched against the red-hot San Francisco 49ers next round. 


Enough talk. Here are the previews for each divisional-round matchup:

(4) Jacksonville Jaguars at (1) Kansas City Chiefs – Saturday, January 21st, at 4:30 PM on NBC

The Jags, fresh off one of the most impressive, if not the most impressive, comebacks I have ever seen, unfortunately, are running into the brick wall called the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are a complete team. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is on a different level than any other player in the game, and this team just wins. The Jags aren’t necessarily fully out of the game, but it will be an uphill battle. This team is good, and quarterback Trevor Lawrence is great, so if they lose this game, expect them to be back. I have Kansas City by a score or two.

(6) New York Giants at (1) Philadelphia Eagles – Saturday, January 21st, at 8:15 PM on FOX

The Giants played fantastically to get by the Vikings in the first round, then, similarly to the Jags, got rewarded by playing the standout Eagles. The Eagles have zero flaws. The only issue with this team is that they were down their excellent quarterback Jalen Hurts, and he’ll be back for this game. The Giants are a good team with a great defense. Quarterback Daniel Jones has found his rhythm. But the Eagles are just better. I have the Eagles by a score or two. I would say more, but the Giants are a division rival, and playoff games between division foes are always closer than they should be. 

(3) Cincinnati Bengals at (2) Buffalo Bills – Sunday, January 22nd, at 3:00 PM on CBS

This might be the game of the playoffs for so many reasons. It’s an emotional rematch because the last time these two met, the game was cut short by the Damar Hamlin injury. All eyes in America will be on this game. And hopefully, it will be a great one. The Bills and Bengals are pretty evenly matched. Both teams have no gaping flaws and have played well, beating great teams. Both teams have great offenses and great defenses. I think the Bills are just slightly better on both sides of the ball. This game could really go either way, but I have Buffalo by a field goal. 

(5) Dallas Cowboys at (2) San Francisco 49ers – Sunday, January 22nd, at 6:30 PM on FOX

Dallas is fresh off a routing of Tom Brady. The 49ers are fresh off of complete destruction of the Seahawks. This is a true powerhouse matchup in the divisional round. Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott has deserved his fair share of criticism this year, but he balled out against the Bucs. And this offense is full of weapons, and the defense is elite. Similarly, the 49ers probably have the best overall team in the league, led by rookie quarterback Brock Purdy who’s playing out of his mind. This is going to be an excellent game. I think San Francisco just overwhelms Dallas with their star power, winning by a score. 


Alright, Falcons, that’s it for the divisional round preview. To sum up, here are my score predictions. Not to brag or anything, but I went 6/6 on team predictions last weekend. Okay, I’m bragging. Here are the scores:

Jacksonville vs. Kansas City: Kansas City wins 31-20
New York vs. Philadelphia: Philadelphia wins 27-23
Cincinnati vs. Buffalo: Buffalo wins 35-31
Dallas vs. San Francisco: San Francisco wins 24-21


Enjoy this awesome weekend of playoff football!