Image Credit: © David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
The NFL postseason moves on to the divisional round this coming weekend as the two No. 1 seeds, Kansas City in the AFC and Green Bay in the NFC, take the field for their first 2020 playoff action. The No. 2 seed in each conference advanced last week, but in each of the remaining four games, the lower-seeded team was victorious. Will that trend continue?
Reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City will host No. 6 Cleveland, an upset winner over Pittsburgh last weekend. The Browns jumped out to a 28-0 lead and beat the Steelers for the second consecutive week, 48-37. If Cleveland is going to have any chance of pulling another upset, it will be up to the defense to slow down Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and company.
The Chiefs have one of the most dynamic offenses in the league and average nearly 30 points per game. Mahomes and the passing game is the NFL’s best – 303.4 yards per game – and TE Travis Kelce finished second in the league in receiving yards with 1,416. Kansas City can run the ball too with rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire who has gained 803 yards in 13 games this season.
Cleveland will likely try to lean on its running game against a Chiefs run defense ranked 21st against the run. Leaning on that running game might not be able to keep pace with a Chiefs offense that scored the sixth-most points in the league this season.
The other AFC divisional round game pits Baltimore against the Buffalo Bills, winners of their first postseason game in 25 years. The Bills, led by QB Josh Allen, jumped out to a 24-10 lead over Indianapolis last week and then held off a late Colts rally to advance. Allen threw two touchdown passes and ran for a third.
Saturday’s game will pit Allen against reigning MVP Lamar Jackson of the Ravens. Jackson ran for 136 yards and a touchdown and threw for 179 more in last week’s win over Tennessee. Even more impressive was the Baltimore defense, which held NFL-leading rusher, Derrick Henry, to just 40 yards on the ground.
Buffalo has now won seven straight and is 8-1 at home in Bills Stadium. The defense has played much better down the stretch. Since the 32-30 Hail Mary loss to Arizona, Buffalo has allowed 19.1 points a game in its last seven games. Saturday’s winner likely comes down to the defense that plays better.
In the NFC, Green Bay entertains the Los Angeles Rams, an upset winner over Seattle. The Rams relied heavily on their defense and watched as QB Jared Goff played despite having had recent thumb surgery. The Rams scored a defensive touchdown and held Seattle to just 278 yards of total offense in their 30-20 wild card victory.
The Packers are the NFL’s top-scoring team and haven’t lost since late November when they lost by a field goal in overtime on the road in Indianapolis. Green Bay is 7-1 at home this year, and they do very well when coming off a bye. The Rams defense is good, but former two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald is banged up. L.A. will have a tough time keeping the Packers out of the end zone.
New Orleans beat Chicago relatively easily, 21-9, to advance and earn the right to host NFC South rival Tampa Bay. Sunday’s matchup will be the third of the season for the Bucs and Saints. New Orleans has won both games.
The Bucs are now 12-3 this season against all teams not named New Orleans. The Saints beat Tampa Bay twice this season by an average score of 36-13. Brees threw four touchdown passes in the last meeting between the two teams, a 38-3 Saints domination of the Bucs.
Tampa Bay does have the offense, led by Hall of Fame QB Marsha, and the NFL’s best run defense. The Bucs have also won each of their last six games on the road, but they have yet to beat New Orleans since the 2018 regular season.
BillsFans.com - Editorial Staff