NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round Staff Picks
256 games and four months later, the NFL postseason field is underway, as we are down to eight teams that can hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Looking back at our preseason staff predictions, the majority favorites to make it to the Super Bowl (Kansas City and New Orleans) are still in the running. Baltimore is the only other team that received votes that is in the remaining field of eight.
For the postseason, we asked 18 of our staff members for their picks for this weekend's slate, and will continue to do so each round of the playoffs.
Los Angeles Rams (11-6) @ Green Bay Packers (13-3) ... Saturday, 4:40 PM, FOX
The Rams found a way to win last week despite having to revert to Jared Goff at quarterback, who was just weeks removed from thumb surgery. Their defense, which ranks among the best in the NFL, along with timely offensive plays, helped them send home division rival Seattle. They will be tested again this week, matching up with MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Green Bay has won three of their last four games in the Divisional Round, and has compiled a combined regular/postseason record of 27-7 over the past two seasons.
Majority Pick: Green Bay (17 votes)
Packers: Matt, Zach, Noah, Dylan, Jill, Nate, Sophia, Joe, Pat, Vin, Erin, Nick, Justin H., David G., Ross, Kevin, Ryan
Baltimore Ravens (12-5) @ Buffalo Bills (14-3) ... Saturday, 8:15 PM, NBC
Lamar Jackson silenced the critics last weekend, securing his first career playoff victory over the Tennessee Titans. Baltimore remains one of the hottest teams remaining, winners of their last six contests. They face another red-hot team Saturday, as Buffalo has won 10 of their last 11 games dating back to mid-October. Offensive fireworks are to be expected, as both teams have averaged more than 30 points per game over their last seven games. After winning their first playoff game since 1995, a win for Buffalo would put them in the AFC Championship game for the first time since 1993.
Majority Pick: Buffalo (13 votes)
Bills: Matt, Noah, Dylan, Jill, Nate, Sophia, Pat, Caroline, Vin, Erin, Nick, Kevin, Ryan
Ravens: Zach, Joe, Justin H., David G., Ross
Cleveland Browns (12-5) @ Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) ... Sunday, 3:05 PM, CBS
History was made all throughout Super Wild Card Weekend, but perhaps no headline was more noteworthy than Cleveland's. They ended their playoff drought in style, dropping 48 points on division rival Pittsburgh without their head coach and a multitude of players due to COVID-19. They have the opportunity to shock the world this weekend, but the task will be much different than last week. Pittsburgh ended the regular season losing four of five, while Kansas City has only lost two games all season, with one of those losses coming in Week 17 with starters sitting out. The Chiefs with a win will make the AFC Championship game for the third-consecutive year.
Majority Pick: Kansas City (17 votes)
Chiefs: Matt, Zach, Noah, Dylan, Jill, Nate, Sophia, Joe, Pat, Vin, Erin, Nick, Justin H., David G., Ross, Kevin, Ryan
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-5) @ New Orleans Saints (13-4) ... Sunday, 6:40 PM, FOX
Football fans are spoiled this year, as they get to see Tom Brady and Drew Brees battle for the third time in one season. Brees and the Saints won both games during the regular season, including a 38-3 blowout on Sunday Night Football in Week 9. Tampa Bay is a much different team now, however, as their offense has had more time to come together with all of their new offseason acquisitions. They've won five games in a row, and scored over 25 points in all of those contests. The frequency of three-game sweeps might be surprising. Since the merger in 1970, 14 teams (66 percent) that have had the opportunity to complete a three-game sweep were successful, with the most recent being the Saints in 2017.
Majority Pick: Tampa Bay (12 votes)
Buccaneers: Noah, Dylan, Nate, Joe, Pat, Caroline, Vin, Nick, Justin H., Ross, Kevin, Ryan
Saints: Matt, Zach, Jill, Sophia, Erin, David G.
(Cover Photo: Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)