Eight teams remain in the NFL playoffs and this weekend's divisional round showdowns promise to deliver quality entertainment in abundance. It all starts Saturday when Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals travel to Nashville to battle the one-seed Tennessee Titans. Burrow and his band of offensive weapons are an exciting and surging team that has surpassed any and all expectations in 2021. The Bengals are playing with house money at this point and should be viewed as a legitimate threat to reach the AFC Championship Game. Saturday night's primetime contest will see Jimmy Garappolo and his six-seed San Francisco 49ers visit Lambeau Field for a daunting date with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
On Sunday, Sean McVay's Los Angeles Rams will face off with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. And finally, Sunday's primetime battle between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs certainly qualifies as the most anticipated game of the weekend. It promises to deliver a plethora of points as both Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes will aim to catapult their teams to the AFC Championship Game.
The intensity will be palpable. We've compiled three bold predictions for the action ahead.
RAMS UPSET TOM BRADY/BUCCANEERS IN TAMPA
We're coming in spicy. Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking to reach (and win) their second consecutive Super Bowl after Brady delivered ultimate glory to all Buccaneers faithful a year ago. Brady is the greatest signal-caller to ever play the game and is largely viewed as capable of reaching his record-setting and astounding 11th Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium on Feb. 13. We don't see it happening.
The Buccaneers are dealing with a plethora of injuries that have hampered their late-season upside. The losses of receivers Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown have placed an unfortunate ceiling on a once-haunting passing attack. The presences of Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski still provide Brady with a solid one-two punch in the passing game, but Tampa has lost the depth that made their group of pass-catchers truly special a year ago.
Bruce Arians' Buccaneers are dealing with injury-related issues that extend beyond the pass catchers. Starting right tackle Tristan Wirfs was absent from Thursday's practice
after suffering an injury against the Philadelphia Eagles in Tampa's wild-card matchup, and his status for Saturday hangs in the balance. On the good news front, starting offensive linemen Ryan Jensen and Leonard Fournette returned to practice on Thursday, but their abilities to handle a full workload remain very much in question. Running back Ronald Jones and cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting also continue to be sidelined.
It's an ugly situation that's setting up beautifully for the Rams and their exciting trio of pass rushers to impact the game. Look for the Rams to execute the upset.
DAVANTE ADAMS EXPLODES FOR 150 RECEIVING YARDS IN VICTORY
The San Francisco 49ers were somewhat fortunate to hold Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb in check a week ago throughout their upset victory over the Dallas Cowboys. A questionable secondary was largely rescued by a charged-up pass rush that placed pressure on Dak Prescott early and often. Nick Bosa and Co. routinely made Prescott uncomfortable in the pocket, an achievement that ultimately hindered Dallas' high-flying passing attack.
They'll have no such luck against Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams on Saturday night.
A leaky secondary that allowed A.J. Brown and Cooper Kupp combined for 18 receptions, 263 yards, and two touchdowns just two weeks apart and will be properly attacked by Rodgers and Adams. DeMeco Ryans' defense will have no answer for Adams' dynamic route-running ability and ball skills at every level of the field.
The best receiver in the game right now will not be slowed down by the likes of K'Waun Williams, Ambry Thomas, and Emmanuel Moseley on Saturday night. Unlike the Cowboys, Green Bay's offensive line will rise to the challenge and award Rodgers with the time necessary to find his favorite target down the field. Look for Adams to explode for 150-plus receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns.
BILLS DEFEAT CHIEFS AT ARROWHEAD
Sunday evening's showdown between Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills versus Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs is undeniably the divisional round contest that will draw the most eyeballs. A rematch of last year's AFC Championship Game, the Bills have received plenty of time to ponder 2020's missed opportunity. Allen particularly struggled throughout that ever-important contest, completing just 28-of-48 passing attempts for 287 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Mahomes was the far better quarterback on that day, throwing for 325 yards and three touchdowns while playing a clean game of football that contained zero turnovers and just nine incompletions. It led to a rather comfortable day for the Chiefs, who ran out 38-24 winners and advanced to their second consecutive Super Bowl.
The Bills are hellbent on seeking revenge for last year's disappointments and possess an excellent chance of righting their wrongs. The Bills are a surging football team that exploded in last weekend's impressive 47-17 victory over their AFC East division rival New England Patriots. The Bills scored an astounding seven touchdowns on their opening seven possessions and have the looks of an unstoppable offense. It's difficult to predict a Chiefs loss at Arrowhead, but that's how great we feel about these Bills.