NFL Playoffs Preview: What to Watch This Weekend

The NFL playoffs divisional spherical is my favored soccer weekend of the calendar year. With 8 teams taking part in 4 game titles in two days, it is the best mix of football in conditions of both amount (game titles all afternoon and into the evening on Saturday and Sunday) and quality—only superb teams continue being. It is challenging to faux your way to this position in the postseason.



The online games begin with the Cincinnati Bengals at the Tennessee Titans at 4:30 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, followed by the San Francisco 49ers browsing the Eco-friendly Bay Packers at 8:15 p.m. (EST). Sunday’s slate has the Los Angeles Rams viewing the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 3 p.m. (EST), then the Buffalo Bills actively playing at the Kansas Town Chiefs at 6:30 p.m. (EST).

Down below are 5 significant thoughts that’ll determine the motion this weekend.

NFL Playoffs Preview: Leading Storylines to Enjoy

1. The Bengals and the Titans have diverse identities. Who will dictate the type in Tennessee?

The Bengals have a quite awful offensive line and not a lot of a operating match even with a talented tailback in Joe Mixon. Their offense hums mainly because 2nd-year QB Joe Burrow has morphed into a person of the finest passers in the NFL and designed great chemistry with a trio of star receivers: rookie Ja’Marr Chase (who’s the ideal of the bunch) 2nd-12 months male Tee Higgins, and sixth-year slot receiver Tyler Boyd.

The Titans score their points in a different way. They connect with operates on just about half their performs (about 46 per cent, to be precise), and at 32 carries for each activity, they are the most solidly operate-heavy crew in the NFL. They have a dominant operate-blocking offensive line that loves to bulldoze, and they’ve finished that plenty of to assert the No. 1 seed in the AFC in spite of a midseason personal injury to elite jogging back Derrick Henry. They signed D’Onta Foreman right after Henry’s damage, and the offense has barely missed a conquer.

The teams’ defenses could do distinctive points to just take the opposing offenses out of their comfort and ease zones. The Bengals could load the box to end the run or the Titans could plan up a way to limit Chase’s targets. But if either offense is completely operational, that group will probably win.

2. Can a battered 49ers defense keep up towards Aaron Rodgers?

Limited respond to: Possibly not.

Extended answer: The 49ers genuinely want defensive finish Nick Bosa, who experienced a concussion in the wild card spherical against the Dallas Cowboys, to be at whole power. That’s a ton to inquire.

The Packers have Aaron Rodgers, one particular of the sport’s fantastic quarterbacks, and he’s accustomed to taking part in in the frigid circumstances of Lambeau Discipline in January. They have a robust offensive line to protect him, especially now that cornerstone tackle David Bakhtiari is back again from a prolonged-time period damage.

The 49ers have a quite great pass defense, but that is additional because of to Bosa and enterprise making dependable force than the secondary holding opposing receivers on lockdown. Bosa’s absence—or even minimal effectiveness—would be a major problem, particularly since the 49ers’s star linebacker Fred Warner is also hurt.

3. Do the Bucs have plenty of juice remaining on offense to beat the Rams?

Tom Brady’s defending champs have dealt with additional attrition than any crew left in the NFL playoffs. Wideout Chris Godwin was already out for the season when Antonio Brown stop the workforce and/or was lower proper just before the postseason started. Managing back Leonard Fournette is on injured reserve, and backfield mate Ronald Jones II has also shown up on the personal injury report this 7 days. The most significant worry for Tampa Bay: All-Professional ideal tackle Tristan Wirfs harm his ankle in the wild card spherical and may or might not enjoy on Sunday.

For their aspect, the Rams have probably the best cornerback in the NFL in Jalen Ramsey, and they could use him to neutralize just about any Bucs receiver (Mike Evans appears a probable concentrate on). The Rams also have some good protection linebackers who could offer correctly with Rob Gronkowski. And the front even now consists of the most effective participant in soccer, deal with Aaron Donald, furthermore fantastic edge gamers like Von Miller and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. Taken together, that is a hell of a good deal for the injury-plagued Buccaneers to regulate.

4. Can Josh Allen repeat his efficiency from the wild card round?

The Payments quarterback is coming off really perhaps the very best NFL playoffs functionality a QB has at any time posted. In a game against the New England Patriots last 7 days, Allen concluded 21 of 25 passes for 308 yards and five touchdowns, and the Expenditures scored a TD on every single single travel other than these that killed the clock at the end of the to start with and 2nd halves—something no crew had ever performed. His 98.5 QBR (on a 100-position scale) usually means he played an pretty much best activity.

But the Chiefs defense he’ll face at Arrowhead Stadium has been a single of the most effective in the NFL in excess of the again fifty percent of the season. Since 7 days 11, they’ve held some of the league’s improved QBs (Dak Prescott, Derek Carr, and Justin Herbert) to some of the worst video games of their careers though two times destroying Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger.

They did give up a bunch of yards and touchdowns to Burrow in Week 17, nonetheless, so it’s possible Allen can obtain some functioning area. He’s likely to be important on the floor, as the Chiefs have had concerns stopping quarterbacks as ball-carriers. (Just a number of weeks in the past, the Broncos QB Drew Lock, who’s not approximately the runner Allen is, had 23- and five-garden scoring operates versus them.)

5. Can the Bills repeat their past win from Patrick Mahomes?

Superb as he is, Allen is not the very best quarterback in the match. That title belongs to Kansas City’s Mahomes, who shook off some early-season challenges and has been dominant due to the fact Week 14. He’s thrown for at least 8.6 yards for every go in all but just one sport considering that then (a typically meaningless Week 17 get over the Broncos) and should really be in a considerably better position than he was in 7 days 5, when the Costs defeat him 38–20, held him to 5 yards for every throw, and intercepted him twice.

Mahomes is a magician, and he has one particular of the league’s most effective offensive mind trusts in coordinator Eric Bieniemy and head coach Andy Reid. The Chiefs will have a sound system for this NFL playoffs rematch, and it’ll be tough for Buffalo to make a repeat performance.

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