Divisional Round Picks

I got off to a hot start for the playoffs, going a perfect 6-0 with my picks for Super Wild Card Weekend. This week, we get four more intriguing matchups—two each on Saturday and Sunday. Can I keep up my hot streak and move to 10-0? Let’s find out.

Saturday Games:

Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8) at Kansas City Chiefs (14-3)
About:
The Jaguars had one of the more tense victories last weekend. The team fell behind 27-0 before battling back. Trevor Lawrence threw four interceptions in the first half but finished with four touchdown passes as his team came back for the 31-30 victory. The Jaguars have had a habit of falling far behind and fighting their way back. That helped the team finish hot and make the playoffs, and it served the team well in the Wild Card round. But it’s likely to be different going against the Chiefs. Kansas City has plenty of experience and plenty of playoff experience on the roster with Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Juju Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling all having played a number of playoff games with the Chiefs and others. Andy Reid is also a very experienced coach. All those things point to the idea that the Chiefs wouldn’t allow the kind of 31-3 run the Chargers did to fall out of the playoffs. The Chiefs are also at home, playing in a place with one of the league’s better home field advantages. I think the Jaguars are a team on the rise but the Chiefs are one of the NFL’s best. We saw that when the teams met in November, a 27-17 victory by the Chiefs in which Mahomes had four touchdown passes. I think it’s another trip to the AFC Championship Game for Reid and Mahomes.
The Pick: Chiefs

New York Giants (9-7-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (14-3)
About
: The Giants have had a memorable season. Entering the season, there were plenty of questions about the Giants’ future. The team had a new Head Coach in Brian Daboll and two stars—Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley—on expiring contracts. No one knew what to expect. The team responded with a solid effort, winning nine games and earning the No. 6 seed. The Giants also looked strong in the Wild Card round in Minnesota, with Jones throwing for 302 yards and two touchdowns, rushing for 78 yards, while Barkley had two rushing touchdowns. All that bodes well for the team heading to Philadelphia, to battle an Eagles team that’s been hot all season. The Eagles were 13-1 before Jalen Hurts suffered a shoulder injury. The team lost two games with Gardner Minshew at the helm before Hurts returned in Week 18 to secure the No. 1 overall seed. The Eagles and Giants played twice, with the Eagles winning both times. In Week 14 it was a 48-22 victory. In Week 18, with most of the Giants starters out and Hurts gimpy, it was a 22-16 win. It’s hard to know how either of those games factor into this third meeting. It’s tough to beat a team for the third time, we saw that with the 49ers in the first half of their Wild Card game with the Seahawks. The Giants are hot but the Eagles have an incredible roster. I think it comes down to how healthy Hurts is now, which remains something of an unknown. Still, I think the Eagles get it done.
The Pick: Eagles

Sunday Games:

Cincinnati Bengals (12-4) at Buffalo Bills (13-3)
About
: This is the game that never happened. The Bills traveled to Cincinnati to battle the Bengals in Week 17 and, mid-way through the First Quarter it was suspended, then cancelled. Now, three weeks later, the teams are due to meet again—this time in Buffalo and with a trip to the AFC Championship Game on the line. It’s impossible to gauge the emotions that will be felt by both teams when they meet on Sunday. Both are also coming off tight and competitive Wild Card victories over division rivals. For the Bills, it was a 34-31 win over the Dolphins. For the Bengals, it was a 24-17 win over the Ravens. In both cases, the winners were heavily favored and struggled. For the Bills, it was turnovers from Josh Allen that kept the Dolphins in the game and, at one point in the second half, even put them in the lead. For the Bengals it was offensive inefficiency and injuries that were overcome thanks timely defense and Ravens’ turnovers. Now, these teams meet for a chance to go further. I expect this to be a close game. I also like the Bills’ defense more than I trust a beat up Bengals’ offensive line. This could be one of the better weekend games but I picked the Bills pre-season and I’m sticking with it.
The Pick: Bills

Dallas Cowboys (12-5) at San Francisco 49ers (13-4)
About:
This is a battle of two solid teams that both won big in the Wild Card Round. The Cowboys jumped out to a 24-0 lead before putting the Buccaneers away 31-14 on the road. The 49ers were trailing 17-16 at the half but quickly exploded in the second half for a 41-23 win over the Seattle Seahawks. This game is also unique so far in the playoffs as it’s the first matchup where the teams didn’t meet—or weren’t scheduled to meet—during the 2022 NFL Regular Season. Both these teams have explosive and talented offenses, including great receivers, tight ends and running backs. And both these teams have strong and opportunistic defenses. The biggest difference comes down to quarterback. Whereas the Cowboys are led by veteran Dak Prescott, the 49ers are led by rookie Brock Purdy, who has made just a half dozen NFL starts, including last week’s Wild Card game. Purdy is an impressive 6-0 as a starter, but this figures to be a stout test to end the Divisional Round of the playoffs. I like Dallas’s potential but the 49ers are red hot and feel like the best team in the NFC right now. This should be an epic fight and I suspect it will come down to the wire, just like the Bills-Bengals battle.
The Pick: 49ers

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.

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