The NFL divisional round for the 2021 season is stacked with 4 terrific matches, and we got you covered with what you require to understand heading into the 2nd weekend of playoff football. Our NFL Nation press reporters bring us the greatest secrets to every video game, a strong forecast for each match and, naturally, last rating choices.
Additionally, ESPN Stats & Information offers a huge stat to understand and a wagering nugget for each contest, and our Football Power Index (FPI) goes inside the numbers with a match ranking (on a scale of 1 to 100) and a video game forecast. Matt Bowen selects an essential match to look for every video game, and Kevin Seifert informs us what to learn about the officiating. Everything you need to know is here in one area to assist you prepare yourself for a packed weekend of NFL playoff football.
Let’s enter the complete divisional-round slate, which includes the 6 wild-card video game winners from recently and each conference’s No. 1 seed, fresh off a bye week. The weekend culminates with a Sunday night match in between the Bills and Chiefs, which has the makings of among the very best video games of the season.
CIN-TEN | SF-GB
LAR-TB | BUF-KC
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup ranking: 60.3 | Spread: 10 -3.5 (47.5)
What to look for: The Titans have actually produced 35 sacks and 153 QB pressures utilizing simply a four-man pass rush (both ranked 2nd in the NFL), and they have actually blitzed on just 18% of their hurries this season. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow’s QBR was 83.7 versus the blitz this season (3rd), however his 13.6 QBR when pressured was 20th. Impacting Burrow with the front 4 and dropping 7 into protection will be the secret to the Titans winning the video game. — Turron Davenport
Bold forecast: Burrow will outgain Titans running back Derrick Henry by 200 backyards (undoubtedly consisting of passing yardage). That’s what it will consider Cincinnati to disturb top-seeded Tennessee. Burrow has actually remained in terrific kind the previous a number of weeks, so anticipate Cincinnati to ride the quarterback’s hot hand as it aims to press the pace in Henry’s anticipated return. — Ben Baby
Stat to understand: Over the last 3 weeks of the routine season, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill published a 79.4 Total QBR (3rd finest in the NFL over that period), tossed 7 goal passes and didn’t have a single interception. But he likewise did a lot on the ground this year, as his 7 hurrying goals were the league’s 2nd most amongst quarterbacks behind Jalen Hurts’ 10.
Bowen’s game-plan secret: Cincinnati requires to develop matches for receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd out of within positionings to beat the Titans’ below zone protectors. Read more on E+.
Injuries: Bengals | Titans
What to understand for officiating: Referee Clete Blakeman, whose regular-season team ranked No. 7 in the NFL with 14.6 flags per video game, will command a video game that consists of the NFL’s least punished group (Bengals, 84). The Titans, on the other hand, ranked No. 17 with 121 flags. Blakeman connected for the second-most roughing-the-passer flags throughout the routine season (12), however the Bengals and Titans dedicated just 2 such fouls each. — Seifert
Betting nugget: Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel is 8-0 both outright and versus the spread with a minimum of 9 days in between video games. Read more on E+.
Baby’s choice: Bengals 37, Titans 31
Davenport’s choice: Titans 28, Bengals 24
FPI forecast: 10, 59.5% (by approximately 3.2 points)
Matchup must-reads: Bengals DE Hendrickson clears concussion procedure, OK to play Saturday … Titans’ Henry passes test with contact practice … Why Burrow has actually kept a chessboard by his locker this season … ‘I play to win video games’: Confident Tannehill reject critics as Titans start playoffs
Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup ranking: 76.2 | Spread: GB -6 (47)
What to look for: There’s cold, and after that there’s Lambeau Field cold. It will be the latter on Saturday night, with temperature levels in the single digits anticipated throughout the video game. Earlier in the year, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers stated, “the colder, the better.” But Niners QB Jimmy Garoppolo may not feel the very same method. Since 2014, there have actually been 101 various beginning quarterbacks in video games with kickoff temperature levels listed below 40 degrees, and Garoppolo isn’t among them. Even throughout his time in New England, he took just 3 snaps in video games when it was listed below 40 at kickoff, and all 3 were kneel-downs. — Rob Demovsky
Bold forecast: In a video game that seems like it might go in either case, Packers kicker Mason Crosby will send his group back to the NFC Championship Game with a 2nd game-winning basket in the closing seconds in as numerous video games versus San Francisco this season. The Niners have the run video game and physical protective front to keep this close, however Rodgers will discover the late-game magic as soon as again to set Crosby up for the winning points. — Nick Wagoner
Stat to understand: The 49ers utilize pre-snap movement on an NFL-high 77% of their plays, and they utilized it on a season-high 88% of their plays in the Week 3 loss to the Packers. However, they balanced a season-low 5.0 backyards per have fun with movement because video game. One gamer whom the Packers will need to enjoy on pre-snap motion is receiver/running back Deebo Samuel, who is looking for to end up being the 5th 49ers gamer to reach 100 skirmish backyards and score a goal in successive championship game.
Bowen’s game-plan secret: Look for Green Bay to strike pass receiver Davante Adams on initially down off play-action. His 22 such receptions connected for the league lead. Read more on E+.
Rob Ninkovich states Aaron Rodgers understands he’s lost in the postseason which this may be among his last opportunities at a Super Bowl.
Injuries: 49ers | Packers
What to understand for officiating: Referee Ron Torbert’s regular-season team tossed the fourth-fewest flags (12.3 per video game), and he was designated to a video game that consists of the NFL’s second-least punished group (Packers, 86) and the 14th-least (49ers, 117). San Francisco cornerback Josh Norman, who has actually remained in and out of the group’s lineup, has without a doubt the most charges of any gamer in this video game (10), consisting of 6 for protective pass disturbance. — Seifert
Betting nugget: The over is 14-6 in championship game when Rodgers is beginning, consisting of 6-0 because 2016 and 4-0 with coach Matt LaFleur at the helm for Green Bay. Read more on E+.
Wagoner’s choice: Packers 26, 49ers 24
Demovsky’s choice: Packers 31, 49ers 17
FPI forecast: GB, 64.5% (by approximately 4.9 points)
Matchup must-reads: Samuel produced his own position: ‘Wide back’ … What return of Alexander, Smith, others would suggest for Packers’ playoff opportunities … Confident San Francisco defense makes 49ers a competitor for NFC title … Top minutes from the 49ers-Packers competition … Garoppolo has ‘somewhat’ sprained tossing shoulder
Sunday, 3 p.m. ET | NBC
Matchup ranking: 87.3 | Spread: TB -3 (48)
What to look for: The Rams have actually been short-handed in their secondary, however the Bucs may be without All-Pro right take on Tristan Wirfs, who suffered a high ankle sprain recently versus the Eagles. That’s a huge blow for Tampa Bay versus probably the league’s most disastrous pass rush. The Buccaneers may require to rely more on their defense, which almost pitched a nothing recently versus the Eagles however gave up 331 passing backyards and 4 goals to Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford & Co. in these groups’ Week 3 conference (a 34-24 win for Los Angeles). — Jenna Laine
Bold forecast: Stafford and Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady will each pass for 3 goals in a video game that will be chosen in the last minutes. The Rams gotten Stafford with the belief that the veteran QB would play an essential function in moving them to a Super Bowl inside their house arena. Stafford will have the possibility to show he’s that person versus a seven-time Super Bowl winner. He understands he’ll need to get his group into completion zone frequently to counter Brady and the Tampa Bay offense; Brady’s 32 goal passes in 16 profession divisional-round video games are 14 more than any other QB has actually tossed. So look for both quarterbacks’ numbers to be off the charts. — Lindsey Thiry
Stat to understand: Will Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey shadow Tampa Bay receiver Mike Evans? Evans saw Ramsey throughout from him on simply 18% of his paths in the regular-season match in Week 3, per NFL Next Gen Stats. And in 2 video games versus the Rams over the previous 2 years, Evans captured 8 of 10 passes for 101 backyards when seeing another person. Against Ramsey, he drew in 5 of 9 passes for 54 backyards.
Bowen’s game-plan secret: Expect Brady to search for Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski in the middle of the field. Gronk captured 38 of his 55 overall receptions this season on tosses inside the numbers. Read more on E+.
Injuries: Rams | Buccaneers
What to understand for officiating: Referee Shawn Hochuli’s regular-season team tossed the third-most flags (15.5 per video game), however the Rams and Buccaneers were amongst the league’s 10 least punished groups in 2021. The Rams ranked No. 3 (92), and the Buccaneers ranked No. 9 (107). Hochuli’s team made 57 require offending holding (3rd most), however the Rams and Buccaneers were flagged just 16 and 20 times for it, respectively (both within the seventh least in the NFL). — Seifert
Betting nugget: Since 2010, Los Angeles is 8-1 versus the spread when dealing with Tampa Bay, consisting of 2-1 under coach Sean McVay. And the previous 5 conferences discussed the overall. Read more on E+.
Thiry’s choice: Buccaneers 34, Rams 32
Laine’s choice: Buccaneers 31, Rams 28
FPI forecast: TB, 65.8% (by approximately 5.3 points)
Matchup must-reads: The making of Kupp: Rams receiver credits spouse’s motivation for star turn … Arians: Likely to come down to wire whether Buccaneers RT Wirfs can play Sunday … Stafford: Toe will not be excessive versus Bucs … Source: Arians fined $50K for striking security Adams … Rams’ defense sets tone in wild-card win, prepares for rematch with Brady
Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup ranking: 96.3 | Spread: KC -2 (53.5)
What to look for: The Bills did a fantastic task of closing down the huge plays when they dealt with Patrick Mahomes in Week 5, restricting the Chiefs to one pass longer than 20 backyards. Buffalo, on the other hand, linked on 4 passes of a minimum of 30 backyards, with 2 opting for goals. The Chiefs need to discover a method to win — or a minimum of remain even with the Bills — in this classification, or they may experience another outcome like that 18-point beatdown. — Adam Teicher
Bold forecast: Bills quarterback Josh Allen will hurry for a minimum of 50 backyards and toss a minimum of 3 goal hands down Sunday. The Bills’ offense has actually hurried for 110-plus backyards and balanced a minimum of 4.0 backyards per bring in 6 straight video games, the second-longest streak in the NFL this year (Eagles). That streak has actually accompanied Allen being utilized more as a rush, which will continue versus the Chiefs. He had 59 backyards on 11 brings in their conference previously this year. Additionally, the offending line will keep him tidy, extending its sackless streak to 5 video games, and permit him to construct on a five-pass-TD wild-card getaway in a much more detailed divisional-round video game. — Alaina Getzenberg
Stat to understand: Mahomes leads the NFL in play-action goals, while Allen ranks 2nd. Both quarterbacks have top-10 QBR numbers on play-action plays, also. But the protective side of things might be crucial: The Bills have actually enabled the league’s most affordable challenger QBR with play-action, while the Chiefs’ defense has actually enabled the league’s greatest.
Bowen’s game-plan secret: Kansas City running back Jerick McKinnon must play an essential function in the Chiefs’ screen video game versus Buffalo’s two-deep zone protections. Read more on E+.
Rob Ninkovich states the Chiefs’ essential to success versus the Bills will be going toe-to-toe with a leading defense.
Injuries: Bills | Chiefs
What to understand for officiating: Referee John Hussey’s regular-season team tossed the third-fewest flags per video game (12.1), however he has actually been designated to officiate 2 of the most penalized groups in the league. The Bills ranked No. 29 (139) and the Chiefs No. 24 (129). The Chiefs were flagged for 36 offending holding fouls, 3rd most in the NFL, while Hussey’s team called 40, the 6th most amongst teams. Hussey’s team called the league’s second-most ridiculing fouls (7), however it tossed the least flags for unlawful contact, protective holding and protective pass disturbance integrated (18). — Seifert
Betting nugget: Buffalo roadway video games are 12-4-1 to the over in the previous 2 seasons. Read more on E+.
Getzenberg’s choice: Bills 34, Chiefs 31
Teicher’s choice: Chiefs 27, Bills 24
FPI forecast: BUF, 52.1% (by approximately 0.7 points)
Matchup must-reads: Manning-Brady 2.0? Why Mahomes vs. Allen might be AFC’s next terrific QB competition … Mahomes is getting ready for his next task as group owner … Allen’s fancy handshakes with Bills colleagues about more than simply having a good time … McKinnon provides Chiefs something to consider at running back … Bills’ No. 1 defense deals with stiffer test vs. much-improved Mahomes … Chiefs’ Gay apprehended on misdemeanor criminal residential or commercial property damage charge