The NFL has released the schedule for the 2024 divisional playoff round, setting up a monumental rematch between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills. After a dramatic wild card weekend, only eight teams remain in the race to Super Bowl LVIII.
AFC powers collide again
The marquee matchup features the AFC’s top two seeds facing off for the fifth straight postseason. The Chiefs and Bills have forged one of the NFL’s best new rivalries, with their last three meetings being decided by a combined seven points.
Kansas City hosts Buffalo this Sunday at 6:30 PM ET on CBS. It’s a rematch of last year’s instant classic AFC Championship Game, which the Chiefs won 42-36 in overtime. Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen have dueled to become the faces of the AFC, combining for 25 touchdowns in their last four head-to-head contests.
According to multiple reports, Bills safety Micah Hyde is trending towards making his return from a neck injury to face the Chiefs. Hyde’s presence would boost a battered Buffalo defense looking to contain Mahomes. The Chiefs are early one-point favorites as they seek their fifth straight AFC Championship appearance.
[Table summarizing the last 4 Chiefs-Bills matchups]
|KC rallied from 12-point deficit in final 2 mins to force OT
|Josh Allen’s 353 pass yds bested Mahomes’ 338 in QB shootout
|Buffalo turned tables with blowout win at KC
|Mahomes threw for 325 yds and 3 TDs to reach Super Bowl LV
The Chiefs-Bills matchup headlines a competitive divisional slate full of star power and intrigue across both conferences.
NFC features Rodgers vs. 49ers, Lions-Bucs grudge match
The NFC bracket also has the top two seeds facing off, as the Packers host the 49ers on Saturday. Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers is still seeking his first win against San Francisco’s vaunted defense in the playoffs.
Rodgers is 0-3 against the 49ers in the postseason, including a heartbreaking loss in the 2019 NFC Championship Game. San Francisco has won five of the last six meetings overall. It will be strength vs. strength, with the 49ers boasting the NFL’s #1 defense and the Packers fielding the league’s highest-scoring offense.
In the other NFC showdown, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Detroit Lions on Sunday afternoon. Brady famously began his career by toppling the Greatest Show on Turf Rams in Super Bowl XXXIX. 20 years later, he faces the task of taking down the Lions – the NFL’s hottest team with eight straight wins.
Detroit is seeking revenge after narrowly losing to Tampa Bay in Week 18. That defeat cost the Lions a division title and forced them to win three straight road games as a wild card. Now Dan Campbell’s squad heads back to Tampa, confident it has what it takes to dethrone the seven-time Super Bowl champion Brady on his home turf.
Ravens-Texans III closes trilogy with Super Bowl trip at stake
The AFC’s other divisional game is no less compelling, as Lamar Jackson leads the Baltimore Ravens into Houston for a rubber match with the Texans. Jackson starred in his playoff return, throwing three touchdowns to beat the Dolphins and snap Baltimore’s three-game postseason slide.
Now he gets a third crack at his personal nemesis – Texans QB Davis Mills. The two teams split their regular season series, with each quarterback leading aggressive fourth-quarter drives to steal road upsets. With a trip to the AFC Championship on the line, the divisional round showdown promises to be another epic installment of this budding QB rivalry.
According to multiple reports, the Ravens anticipate having LT Ronnie Stanley active to face defensive player of the year candidate Jadeveon Clowney. Stanley’s presence would be huge for a Baltimore line that allowed big pressure in the teams’ first two meetings.
This star-studded divisional lineup has all the makings of an unforgettable playoff weekend. The winners move one step closer to Super Bowl glory, while the losers see their championship dreams dashed.strap in for 48 hours of nonstop action with the NFL’s elite eight.
What happens next?
If the favorites hold serve, the conference championship matchups would feature some of the juiciest storylines imaginable. The Chiefs and Bills appear fated for another showdown with a Super Bowl berth at stake, continuing this burgeoning rivalry. Aaron Rodgers would get another crack at Brady and the Bucs two years after Tampa Bay ended Green Bay’s title hopes in the 2021 NFC Championship.
But plenty of pitfalls await those favorites. The underdog Lions and Texans have already toppled more heralded foes once this postseason. Jackson and the Ravens are out to flip the script in big games. And Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers defense presents Rodgers’ biggest nightmare.
One thing is certain – with this type of star power and these high stakes, the NFL divisional round promises to deliver more iconic moments. So clear your calendar and buckle up for a weekend that will live in playoff lore!
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