The NFL Wild Card round more than lived up to its title with an entertaining set of games. Now the four teams that were on bye weeks return to action this weekend, with three of the four favored by at least a touchdown. The divisional playoffs tend to have some surprises from the underdogs, though.
The NFL Divisional Round of games is, in my opinion, usually the best weekend of NFL football. Every team was either good enough to have a 1st round bye or else they’re coming off a win in a playoff game, so it’s the highest sustained level of football all season.
Let’s take a closer look at all of the games on the board:
Minnesota Vikings @ San Francisco 49ers
Odds: San Francisco -7
On the surface, it seems as though the 49ers caught a break by drawing the Vikings instead of the Seahawks in the Divisional Round. The 49ers lost to the Seahawks and nearly lost a second time had it not been for a few more inches at the end of the game.
At the same time, Minnesota won’t be an easy out by any means. The Vikings were a seven-point underdog last week when they upset New Orleans. Now, Kirk Cousins and company head to San Francisco needing one more upset win to reach the NFC Championship game.
San Francisco survived a ton of injuries and a grueling schedule just to earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Now they appear to be getting healthy with the return of linebacker Fred Warner and others. The key to this game will be the Vikings ability to run the ball against a good 49ers defense. However, the 49ers did allow a surprising 4.5 yards-per-carry this season, which was 23rd in the NFL.
Tennessee Titans @ Baltimore Ravens
Odds: Baltimore -9.5
Lamar Jackson and the Ravens were going to be a monster favorite regardless of which opponent they played in the Divisional Round. The fact that they draw the Titans is intriguing for a number of reasons. Derrick Henry is coming off another a 204-yard performance in a road win over the New England Patriots last week. Running on the Ravens could be much more difficult, though, as their run defense ranked fifth in the NFL. We’ll see if the Titans can win if Henry is slowed.
Houston Texans @ Kansas City Chiefs
Odds: Kansas City -9.5
The second lopsided line of the week has the Chiefs as big favorites at home. This is the only game this weekend that’s a rematch from the regular season. The Texans went into Kansas City and won in Week 6. The Chiefs will want revenge for that loss and the good news is they’ve had two weeks to prepare. Andy Reid’s teams are 18-3 in following a bye week.
Seattle Seahawks @ Green Bay Packers
Odds: Green Bay -3.5
One of the most intriguing matchups on the board features Wilson and the Seahawks looking to go on the road for the second week in a row and win. Aaron Rodgers will provide a much tougher test than Josh McCown did last week. However, that doesn’t mean Green Bay is going to run away with this one at home.
Aaron Rodgers and company have flashed immense potential throughout the year, but there is an obvious lack of consistency we have seen on both sides of the football that is a little worrisome. Aaron Jones has had huge statistical days, but he’s had an up-and-down season.
Just three of their 13 wins were against teams with a winning record, one of which came against the Patrick Mahomes-less Chiefs and two against the Vikings. Meanwhile, 11 of Seattle’s 12 wins this season came by a single score, so this should be a tight game.