Divisional Weekend Preview: Predicting the outcome of each game

Siddharth Chandra

I like to call this weekend the Divisional Doomsdays. This is the weekend where the top seeds in the AFC and NFC are introduced into the playoff race. This year all the matchups prove to be true entertainers. The #6 Rams will face off against the #1 Packers. The #5 Bucs will take on the #2 Saints. The #5 Ravens will battle the #2 Bills. Last but not least, the #6 Browns will face off against the #1 Chiefs. I will give you my takes on how each of these games will play out.

#6 Rams at #1 Packers: Saturday, January 16th 4:35 P.M. EST (FOX, FOX Deportes)

Rams 23 – Packers 31

This is probably the most interesting matchup of the weekend. Just by looking tat the seeding of the teams one might think this will be a blowout by the Packers, but this is going to be a much closer game. The broad picture of the matchup is the Packers elite offense facing off against the Rams elite defense and the Packers mediocre defense vs. the the Rams mediocre offense. The Rams have had the best defense this season letting up the fewest points, and yards. The defense is lead by Ramsey in the secondary and Donald up front. However we don’t know if Donald is going to be as effective with his injury but if he is he is going to cause a problem for the Packers. Last week Russ was getting absolutely tormented by this D-line with Leonard Floyd and Aaron Donald combining for 4 sacks. Ramsey has been the best corner in the league this year, with QB’s having a 73.0 passer rating when targeting Ramsey. To add onto that. we are going to get arguably the most best matchup of the season, Davante Adams vs. Jalen Ramsey. This is going to be the key of the game, if the Rams can stop Davante Adams then they are going to have serious chance of winning but if Adams gets going it’s all over for the Rams. Not to mention the MVP – Favorite in Aaron Rodgers who has been playing out of his mind this season with a 121.5 passer rating and 48 TD’s. To contrast that, Jared Goff has been anything but great with only 20 TD and 13 INT. This offense is the main issue for the Rams with most of their games failing to score 25 points. Cam Akers has been a bright spot, tormenting the Seahawks last week. But in the end the Packers have many more weapons on offense and even if Adams is shut down Rodgers will find a way to get into the endzone. However Freshman Adithya Balagurumoorthy did have an interesting take on how this game could turn out “I know it’s bold, but I believe that the Rams have a recipe for an upset against the number 1 seeded Packers. Green Bay’s run defense has been horrendous which gives rookie RB Cam Akers a chance to shine. I don’t think the rams D-line will have any problems, as Donald is set to play and I am sure though he might not be 100%, he’ll be pretty close (we know how that can still go). The main threat to this upset is gonna be the Rodgers to Adams connection. We all know how this has gone all season, but one thing we also know is how good Jalen Ramsey has been against other star receivers. Assuming Ramsey can take care of Adams, the Rams can shift their attention to also shutting down Aaron Jones as well. If Ramsey doesn’t do too well against Adams, I have no doubt we will see some changes whether it be giving Ramsey some more safety help or a double team on Adams all together, the Rams will be able to figure out the Packers offense.”

#5 Ravens at #2 Bills: Saturday, January 16th 8:15 P.M. EST (NBC, Universo)

Ravens 27 – Bills 24

This is the most even matchup of the weekend. The Ravens are back to their 2019-2020 season from with Lamar Jackson looking better than ever. Fun Fact: last week he threw for more passing yards than Ryan Tannehill (179 yards) and more rushing yards than Derrick Henry (136 yards). With his dangerous dual-threat it makes him hard for defenses to prepare for him. To make it worse the Ravens also have J.K Dobbins and Gus Edwards in the backfield. The Bill defense has been mediocre throughout the season with no real highlights besides Tre’Davious White. They were able to get it done whenever it mattered the most. We also saw last week when needed the Ravens can pass making this team one to look out for. The Bills however have a completely opposite offense. Their offense has been lethal with Josh Allens and his partner in crime Stefon Diggs. Once again Diggs torched the Colts for 128 yards. This week he is going to be facing a much tougher secondary containing Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey. But Josh Allen has proved over and over again he is able to get it done whenever the bill need it the most. They will be facing a decent Ravens defense but like the Bills they don’t have any real highlights besides Marlon Humphrey. Devin Singletary and Zack Moss have been solid this season provind Allen with a solid running game. However they are not game-changing like the trio of the Ravens. The thing that worried me the most was how the Bills played last week, they almost lost to the #7 Colts who hadn’t played amazing throughout the season. Due the performance last week I have the Ravens 0ut on top because of how they have been playing of late. However this could easily be false, with this game being the closest all weekend.

#6 Browns at #1 Chiefs: Saturday, January 17th 3:05 P.M. EST (CBS, CBS All Access, ESPN Deportes)

Browns 17 – Chiefs 31

Never thought I would say this but, the Browns will play the Chiefs in the playoff. That whole statement shouldn’t make sense. Anyway you have the best team in football this year vs. a team that just upset the Steelers with Tik-Tok Star who has a loud mouth. The Chiefs have been dominant all year only losing 2 games and one of those losses being when they rested all of their star players. It all circles around Superstar Patrick Mahomes who has had another MVP-caliber season with 38 TD and a QB rating of 108.2. It looks like he is going to come runner-up in the MVP standings this year which is crazy considering this his 3rd full season in the NFL. He doesn’t have shortage of weapons either, which include Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and so many more. Tyreek Hill has been running all over defenses throughout the season and Travis Kelce has had one of the best season that a TE has ever had. It is so difficult for opposing defenses to take into account all of the weapons the Chiefs have and trying to cover all of them. It’s even worse for the Browns who have had a mediocre defense all season, and a defense that let 37 points against Pittsburgh last week. Besides Myles Garrett they don’t really have any superstars that are game changers. However Myles Garrett has been one of the best defensive players this season, with 12 sacks. He is the second-most dominant D-lineman only behind Aaron Donald. However they don’t really have anyone in the secondary that can contain the weapons that the Chiefs have. The Browns are going to heavily rely on Nick Chubb who has been their main weapon all season. Most people think the Chiefs will win including Freshman Brian Auciello but he did have a interesting take on how the Browns could win this game, “The Chiefs have looked rusty and Mahomes hasn’t played well in the last few weeks. Combine that with having an extra week off, where they probably weren’t preparing to play the Browns, and you have a recipe for an upset. Now the Browns on the other hand , just came off of a huge win, and could momentum on their side.” I’m still taking the Chiefs here though because they can simply find another gear when they need it (refer back to their divisional game against the Texans last year).

#5 Buccaneers at #2 Saints: Saturday, January 17th 6:40 P.M EST (FOX, FOX Deportes)

Buccaneers 38 at Saints 31 

This is the 3rd time we are going to see this matchup, and the last two times it hasn’t been pretty for them. Week 1 they did decent losing by only 11, but it in Week 9 they lot by a whopping 35 points. All those are red flags for the Bucs indicating that they could lose this game big also. However Tom Brady and that offense has really picked it up in recent weeks. Last week he threw for 381 yards and 2 TD against a decent Washington defense. Mike Evans has also been dominating as of late going for over 100 yards last week. They’ve had an ok running game all year, but when you have the GOAT do you really need a running game. The Saints have been pretty good on the defense ranked 5th this year. The Bucs defense has been really good when the entire squad is healthy but they haven’t been healthy for the most of the season. Drew Brees hasn’t had the best of seasons but he has been there in the clutch situations, and contributed to the saints 12 wins. Michael Thomas has had an awful year in total but if he can get going for the playoffs, then he is going to be a real problem for the Bucs. Alvin Kamara has been a game-changer, another player the Bucs have to watch out for. But in the end this is going to come down ot the play of QB’s. Whichever QB does better (Brady or Brees) they will win this game. It is a treat to see these face off in the postseason, and possibly face off for the last time ever. I do have the Bucs coming out on top for a few reasons. Last week the Saints were only able to put up 21 points against a god-awful Bears Defense and the Bucs were able to put up 31 points against a good Washington Defense. To add onto that it’s really hard for a team to beat the same team 3 times in year. It is going to be a high-scoring shootout between these two juggernauts.