After nine straight years of Divisional Round play, believe it or not, this is the third consecutive season of a Patriot-less Divisional Round. I kept Ja'Marr Chasing Pats live ML until it was 20-0, which played a significant role in my -5.8U weekend, but from a winners standpoint, I went 4-2, and I always pick against the Chiefs as a bit, so it was really 4-1 and the 1 was my biased Patriots pick, so I basically went 4-0 picking winners. Congrats to me; let's take a deeper look at what many talking heads call the year's best weekend of football!
Past DOL Divisional Round Picks:
(4) Cincinnati Bengals @ (1) Tennessee Titans [-4/48]
Saturday 4:30 pm, CBS
FTR, these picks are gonna be primarily narrative-based. I haven't been studying data as extensively as usual, but I've been saying that the Titans will lose their first playoff game for at least the last three weeks, and I'm not changing that take now.
Of course, the return of Tractorcito worries me. I'm a huge fan and not rooting for him to get hurt; I'm just saying, I don't know how much I can trust Derrick Henry on a fucked up foot (medical term) with a metal plate.
However, the battle in the trenches does worry me. The Bengals allowed the most sacks in the NFL, and the Titans are the only team in the league with three players who had at least 8 sacks (Harold Landry 12; Denico Autry 9; Jeffrey Simmons 8.5).
That's all well and good, but one thing you can't measure is swag, and Joe Burrow leads the league in it. There are two major reasons I think the Bengals will win. The first is my hashtag good guyness. One of my best friends is a Bengals fan, and I'm rooting for his happiness, but my main reason is being a narrative guy, and the Bengals story is one of the best of the entire season. They were expected to win like six games and ended up snapping a 31-year playoff win drought. These Bengals don't care about their pedestrian history; they're just balling, but I'll give you a little history. In 1981 the Bengals changed their uniforms and made the Super Bowl. In 2021 the Bengals changed their uniforms and ended a significant playoff drought. I don't believe in the Titans, and it's not midnight yet in Cincy. Plus, can you really count on Ryan Tannehill or Randy Bullock in the clutch? I know I trust Joe Brrr. The Cincinnati Bengals have never won a road playoff game (0-7) which makes me love them even more. My model says they're due.
(6) San Francisco 49ers @ (1) Green Bay Packers [-6/47.5]
Saturday 8:15 pm, FOX
I hit Packers ML when these teams met in week 3, but a lot has changed since then. Can I tell you specifics regarding what? Not really, but I do think the winner of this game wins the NFC next week.
On one side, we've got Jimmy G playing for his future. Will the 49ers bring him back next year or move on to Trey Lance? On the other, Aaron Rodgers is playing for his legacy. Of course, he already has one Super Bowl ring, but one ring is simply not enough for a man of his caliber; if he retires with one Super Bowl that came back in his third year as a starter IMO that's a failure. Sure it's a team game, but 3-4 MVPs and only 1 ring screams failure.
My pick for this game depends on what happens with the Bengals-Titans game. If I lose, I'm 1000% going to chase 49ers ML. This is a match-up where I'd be cool with either team; both rosters have guys I fw. Belichick fucked up soooo hard taking N'Keal over Deebo.
Here's the data that matters: Aaron Rodgers was infamously spurned by his hometown 49ers in the 2005 NFL Draft, leading to the freefall that landed him in Green Bay. The 49ers are 3-0 vs. Aaron Rodgers in the postseason, and he's likely leaving Green Bay this offseason. We either have Rodgers getting past his hometown team that didn't take him (en route to probably another NFCCG loss), or they end his Packers career and sort of justify their wrong decision to take Alex Smith (but not really). The #1 seed Packers also have a shaky field goal unit like the Titans. I could totally see Mason Crossbar letting the Lambeau crowd down with a missed 38 yarder late.
(4) Los Angeles Rams @ (2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers [-3/48]
Sunday 3:00 pm, NBC
These rosters are like Herbie or the best baked potatoes; full loaded. In another week three rematch, the Rams beat Tampa 34-24 the first time around, but Gronk got hurt in that contest. I'm gonna make this one quick because I should clean my room before these games start. Do you really think Matthew Stafford will beat Tom Brady in the playoffs? I think McVay is a better coach than Arians, but I already have a Bengals-Bucs ML parlay locked in. Trust tree: the Tristan Whirfs injury scares me against the Rams front, and I sort of forgot about that when I blinded followed that parlay from someone at PFF.
(3) Buffalo Bills @ (2) Kansas City Chiefs [-2/54]
Sunday 6:30 pm, CBS
I wish there were a way both of these teams could lose, but the Bills have been treating their WILD CARD win over the Patriots like a Super Bowl victory which makes me think they'll be a natural letdown against a team they demolished in week 5. Those early season Chiefs are dead and gone like the old Justin Timberlake. If only Jackson Mahomes were too*. I still may pepper the Bills to mush the Chiefs, but every time I pick against the Chiefs, they end up winning, so in a classic reverse much situation:
*that's joke a don't want Jackson Mahomes to die, I just want him to go away forever or at the very least stop lying to himself and the world and just come out already. It's 2022 bro, good people don't care.