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NFL Divisional Round Preview


NFL Divisional Round Logo with team logos. | Image from Oakland News

After eighteen NFL games this season, there are now only eight teams left playing. By the evening of January 23, only four will remain in the quest for glory and a shot at winning Super Bowl LVI. The weekend will feature four games (two on January 22 and two on January 23) in a win-or-go-home format.

Saturday action begins with the Cincinnati Bengals, coming off their first playoff victory since 1991 with a crushing defeat of the Las Vegas Raiders in the NFL Wild Card Round facing the AFC’s number-one seed Tennessee Titans. In the first round of the playoffs, the Titans had a bye and have not played since defeating the Houston Texans in Week 18. 

Tennessee made the number-one seed on the strength of its run game and with a victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, who lost to the Titans in the regular season. The defense among the Titans has the only trifecta of more than eight sack pass-rushers and will be fielding an almost full team for the first time in several weeks.

Caesars Sportsbook has the Titans by 3.5 points with the over/under for the total at 47.5.

The Saturday evening NFC game will feature its number-one seed Green Bay Packers hosting the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers narrowly defeated the Dallas Cowboys in the wild card round, getting big yardage out of the run game and consistent stops from the defensive front. 

The big question in this NFL game will be how 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garappolo and his injured thumb perform against a Packers defense that started the season strong but limped into the playoffs. Caesars Sportsbook projects the Packers at 5.5 with an over/under total of 47 points, making for one of the least likely upsets of the weekend.

January 23 will see another NFC contest for the early game. The Los Angeles Rams will travel to Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by quarterback Tom Brady and its top passing offense. The Rams defense is physical and opportunistic, and quarterback Mathew Stafford is performing at career levels. 

When those two teams clashed early in the regular season, the Rams came out on top 34-24. Caesars Sportsbook has Tampa Bay over Los Angeles by 2.5 points and a total score of 48 points for the game. 

Divisional weekend competition will end with the Buffalo Bills visiting GEHA Field at Arrowhead to take on the Kansas City Chiefs. Both teams enter the game coming off massive victories in the wild card round. The Chiefs, who fell short of the ultimate prize last year, are winning on the strength of the offense. Buffalo boasts the number-one defense and an offensive attack that came in fifth overall this season. Kansas City is only a two-point favorite in this game, but the bookies at Caesars Sportsbook have an over/under of 54.5.

The winners of every game will face off against the remaining division team for the NFL Conference Championship game.

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