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The CouchGM team and Super Bowl Predictor make picks for each of the Divisional round games.
A quick check on the overall Super Bowl odds after the wild card round.
|Team||Super Bowl Probability|
|Green Bay Packers||20.37%|
|Kansas City Chiefs||14.08%|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||13.02%|
|Los Angeles Rams||7.21%|
|San Francisco 49ers||4.26%|
And here’s how everybody did in the wild card round:
|Predictor||Correct Picks||Incorrect Picks|
|Super Bowl Predictor||5||1|
Everybody chose the same except for the Niners-Cowboys game: Zach had the 49ers, everybody else had the Cowboys.
Derrick Henry finished 9th in the league in rushing yards and 6th in rushing touchdowns this year - and he only played in 8 games! He’s the biggest wild card. Even if he’s back at 80% I think that’s enough to win. Having said that, of all the running backs still in the playoffs, the only rusher with more TD’s than Henry this year is Cincinnati's Joe Mixon. This game will feature the 2 best running backs still standing. I take Tennessee 31-24.
By this point of a football season every team has injured players. Next man up is among the most overused cliches in all of sports. The Bengals defensive line is particularly banged up which is exactly what you don’t want when you face a Titans offensive line that is not so good at pass protection but is very good at run blocking. The Titans may get Derrick Henry back and Bengals DE Trey Hendrickson is in the concussion protocol. If Henry returns and Hendrickson does not, look out. Joe Burrow and the Bengals’ passing game is hot right now and they match up well against the Tennessee DBs but the Titans are prepped to run at will, control the clock and limit Joe Burrows’ possessions. The Titans should win and will win.
Cincinnati. The Titans had the bye, but two weeks ago it took 4 TDs from Ryan Tannehill to beat the Texans by 3 in a game with the #1 seed on the line. I know, I know, Derrick Henry was out, and he is expected back this week. I just don’t think Tennessee is actually that good. And yes, they did earn the #1 seed. But Cincinnati is better in terms of points scored per drive, points allowed per drive, net points per drive, turnover margin, and at quarterback. The Titans are an excellent rush defense, (#2 in yards allowed/game, only 0.1 yards/game worse than #1 Baltimore) and Joe Mixon has struggled lately, which could be a real problem. But the Joe Burrow - Ja’Marr Chase duo will hit a big play or two and carry Cincinnati to the next round. Passing is more important than running, anyway.
🔥 HOT TAKE ALERT 🔥
Joe Burrow > Kyler Murray.
|Green Bay Packers||82.69%|
|San Francisco 49ers||17.31%|
The weather is supposed to be a stereotypical Green Bay wintery day - snow in the morning and well below freezing at game time. Green Bay has won 6 of their last 7 meaningful games (no one counts the week 18 loss to the Lions) but San Francisco has won 8 of their last 10. These two teams met in week 3 in San Francisco, which was the game where Rodgers led the Packers 42 yards in 37 seconds to kick a game winning field goal as time expired. This one will be lower scoring. 27-17 for the Packers.
It would be a HUGE upset if SF wins this game. Here’s four reasons why GB will win:
1. The Packers went 8-0 at Lambeau this year. SF was 6-3 on the road this year; now 7-3 after winning in Dallas last week. The tundra will be frozen this Saturday (17-degree game-time forecast). Advantage: GB.
2. The Packers went 5-1 against playoff teams including a Week 3 win at SF. Aaron Rodgers was inactive in the one loss. The 49ers went 4-4 against playoff teams. Jimmy Garoppolo was inactive in one of the four SF losses. Advantage: GB
3. Rodgers’ TD to INT ratio was 37:4. His 4 INTs are by far the fewest of all NFL starting QBs and he hasn’t thrown a pick since his return from injury in a 17-0 win against the Seahawks in Week 11. Since that game Rodgers has 20 TDs and zero picks. Jimmy Garoppolo’s TD to INT ratio was 20:12. Huge advantage for GB.
4. GB could/should get back OT David Bakhtiari, CB Jaire Alexander and LB Za’Darius Smith. The SF defense potentially will be missing DT Nick Bosa and LB Fred Warner. Advantage: GB.
Green Bay. The Niners are hot, but it’ll end this week. Green Bay will just be too much to handle. The Packers are 3rd in the league in turnover margin and the Niners are 22nd. The Packers will intercept Garoppolo twice and advance.
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||64.34%|
|Los Angeles Rams||35.66%|
McVay proved he is miles ahead of Kingsbury in the wild card game, but he’ll have his work cut out for him against the risk-taking Bruce Arians and the GOAT Tom Brady. I expect heavy blitzing with Aaron Donald, so the now injured Tristan Wirfs or his backup will have to play unexpectedly well to give the receivers time to run their deep routes. The Rams beat the Bucs 34-24 in primetime in week 3 in Los Angeles, and even with a short week I expect a similar result. Rams win 27-24.
This game will be decided entirely by whether the Tampa offensive line can protect Tom Brady. The Bucs obviously miss WRs Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown but they will miss OT Tristan Wirfs more if he does not play. The Bucs record this year was 1-3 in games where Brady was sacked 3 or more times (the only win was when they scored 20 in the 4th quarter against Atlanta). However, Brady historically gets rid of the ball quickly so look for a lot of his typical quick passes. Last week the Rams went against type and ran the ball greater than their 60-40 pass-run seasonal averages. If they run the ball well this week and get to Brady, the Rams will win. Plus, Matthew Stafford has got to feel like he’s playing with house money after last week’s win. Look for Sean McVay to call a good game and Aaron Donald and company to make it just a little too difficult for Tom Brady. Rams win in a close, entertaining game.
Tampa Bay. The Bucs are 2nd in passing offense and the Rams are 9th. The Bucs are 21st in passing defense and the Rams are 22nd. Strength against weakness for both teams. The LA pass-rush combo of Donald and Miller will be a problem. The Rams had 50 sacks this year, the third-most in the league (per StatMuse). This problem is probably exacerbated by the Wirfs injury, but the Bucs only allowed 23 sacks all year, fewest in the league (StatMuse). That’s not all Wirfs. So that matchup is strength against strength. Overall, I’ll take the Bucs.
|Kansas City Chiefs||43.07%|
This is our model's first upset choice after last week picking all higher seeds. The Bills are the model's second-highest rated team even though they are only the #3 seed.
It’s a shame that these two teams play against each other this week. These two teams put up the most points of the whole wild card weekend, most famously the “perfect game” played by Buffalo (7 possessions and 7 touchdowns). Kansas City started slow, but put up 35 points in the 2nd and 3rd quarters combined. They gave up 21 to a subpar Steelers team so this one could be a shootout. Both teams are used to the cold, though this week’s game will feel warm to Buffalo who played in single digits last week. The over/under is 55, and I’d probably take the over. The Bills beat the Chiefs in a fairly one-sided game in Kansas City in week 5 by a score of 38-20. The Chiefs won’t let that happen again. This week it’ll be the Chiefs on top by a count of 34-27.
Buffalo got a measure of revenge for last year’s AFC Championship Game loss when they beat KC in KC in Week 5. A win in KC in the playoffs this year would be a HUGE statement win for the Bills. This should be the highest scoring game of the weekend because both Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes played well last week. However, I expect the Buffalo defense will give Mahomes more trouble than the KC defense will give Allen because the Bills had the stingiest defense all season in terms of yards and points allowed. I expect KC will move the ball and score but Buffalo will win in a high-scoring, entertaining game.
Buffalo. Last week I announced the Bills as my Super Bowl winner, so obviously I’m taking Buffalo in this one. In the one head-to-head matchup this year the Bills won 38-20, and a large part of that game was due to Buffalo’s +4 turnover margin. It’s highly unlikely that the turnovers are so one-sided again, but the Chiefs did give away the most fumbles this season (12, tied with Miami and Jacksonville) and the Bills were top-10 in fumble takeaways this year (11, tied for 6th) and top-10 in turnover margin overall (+8, 7th). The Bills are also the team best-suited to stopping Mahomes and the Chiefs, with by far the #1 passing defense in the league (only 163 yards/game allowed, 25 fewer than anyone else and 40 fewer than anyone left in the playoffs). Buffalo’s top corner, Tre’Davious White, is out, so that’s obviously a problem. But the Bills defense overall is still far superior to Kansas City’s and has a better chance to slow down Mahomes and get takeaways than the KC defense does against Allen.back to blog