The Eagles have been eliminated, but the NFL is insisting on continuing with the playoffs anyway. The Divisional Round is where the games are supposed to get good, so surely the guys will raise their prediction game accordingly.
Or not. We’ll find out.
#4 Cincinnati Bengals at #1 Tennessee Titans
Joe: There are going to be a lot of people picking the Bengals this week – maybe even my pod partner, we’ll see – as a chic upset pick to reach the AFC title game. That’s just disrespectful to the Titans. You wanna look at the other AFC game and lament the fact that it’s a Divisional game and not the conference championship? Go ahead, but the reason it’s not is because the Titans beat both the Chiefs and the Bills this season. AND they’re getting Derrick Henry back for this one. That can sometimes cause trouble, when a key player returns after a lengthy absence; I don’t think it will this weekend. Pick: Titans
John: I’ve got a feeling about this game. Can’t explain, maybe call it the Any Given Sunday vibe that makes people double down on long shot bets…I like the Bengals to shock the world this weekend. The Titans are obviously great, but have you seen Joe Burrow? The man just has it and he also has the weapons around him. This feels like an exciting game and a pick that I regret making on Monday. Pick: Bengals
#3 Buffalo Bills at #2 Kansas City Chiefs
Joe: Remember what I just said about not disrespecting the Titans? Well, we’re done with their game now, so I’ll say this: the winner of this game is leaving Nashville next Sunday with the Lamar Hunt Trophy and heading to Los Angeles for the Super Bowl. A bold prediction, I know. But which one? That is less certain. You saw what the Bills did to the Patriots, right? Kinda makes it hard to pick against them. But I’m going to anyway; Josh Allen might be the most dangerous quarterback in football, but Patrick Mahomes already is the most dangerous quarterback in football. Regardless, this should be an incredible game (so go ahead and place your bets on a blowout). Pick: Chiefs
John: This is the most anticipated game of the weekend. The Bills are either going to the Super Bowl or falling flat in a trap game. They demolished their biggest rival on Saturday night and I can’t see them repeating the feat two weeks in a row. That being said…Josh Allen has a chance to edge closer to the Patrick Mahomes claim as the best young QB in football. I think Kansas City has too much firepower and experience, but it’s impossible to ignore what we watched last weekend, too. Arrowhead also presents one of the toughest road challenges in the NFL and that tips the scales in KC’s favor. Pick: Chiefs
#6 San Francisco 49ers at #1 Green Bay Packers
John: I don’t trust the Green Bay Packers to live up to their number one seed. We’ve seen this show before. Aaron Rodgers looks great during the regular season, but the immunized franchise QB can’t get his team over the hump. I expect him to lift his team to victory at least once this postseason and the 49ers aren’t formidable enough. Pick: Packers (lock)
Joe: The 49ers were the trendy underdog pick last week, and it came to pass that San Francisco knocked off Dallas in one of the stupider games we’ve seen. But now, whichever Bosa brother is on the 49ers – I think it’s Nick? – is hurt, and his status is in doubt, while Jimmy Garoppolo is always doubt-worthy. If the 49ers manage to get a lead on the Packers and start doing the same crap they did against the Cowboys, Aaron Rodgers is not going to let them get away with it. It’s going to be bitterly cold in Green Bay, which should favor the run-based 49ers, but we know Rodgers feels nothing. At all. He’ll love it out there. Pick: Packers (lock)
#4 Los Angeles Rams at #2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
John: While I didn’t think I’d pick Matt Stafford over Tom Brady, I’m really picking Aaron Donald vs. a leaky Tampa offensive line. The Rams defense has the chance to feast and put just enough pressure on Brady. Look for Donald and his defensive cohorts to have a statement game this weekend…let the record also show I’ve picked against the Buccaneers every playoff game for two years and this may finally be the game that they prove me right. Pick: Rams
Joe: Matthew Stafford got the monkey off his back as the Rams ripped the Cardinals, 34-11. Also 34-11? Tom Brady’s career playoff record heading into last weekend. We all know he added the extra point against the Birds on Sunday, but he’s going to have a much tougher time this weekend, as the most notable thing about the Eagles-Bucs game was the deleterious effect it had on Tampa Bay’s offensive line. And I’m no big time football analyst, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that if your offensive line is banged up, Aaron Donald isn’t a guy you want to see roll into town. Having said that, a week after turning Jalen Hurts into mush, Todd Bowles’ defense will do the same to Stafford, and while part of me says the Rams win this, the part of me ruled by common sense says that the Bucs will win a low-scoring slugfest, setting the stage for the expected offensive fireworks of Bills-Chiefs later that night. Pick: Buccaneers
Last Week: Joe: 5-2 (1-0); John: 5-2 (1-0)
Playoffs: Joe: 5-2 (1-0); John: 5-2 (1-0)