The NFL Divisional Round kicks off Saturday with the AFC’s top seed Baltimore Ravens hosting the Houston Texans and the NFC’s #1 seed San Francisco 49ers welcoming the Green Bay Packers. Sunday features a matchup of elite AFC quarterbacks Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes as the Buffalo Bills take on the Kansas City Chiefs, while Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head to Detroit to battle the Lions.
Ravens, 49ers Aim to Stay Hot on Saturday
The Ravens enter as 7.5-point favorites after earning a bye with their franchise-best 14-3 regular season behind likely MVP Lamar Jackson. Jackson dominated down the stretch, including throwing for 318 yards and 3 touchdowns last time out against Cincinnati. He’ll look to stay hot and exploit a Texans defense that allowed the 5th-most yards during the regular season .
Meanwhile in San Francisco, the 49ers also earned a first-round bye after securing the NFC’s top mark at 13-4. They’ll host Jordan Love and the Packers, who snuck into the playoffs at 9-8 before winning last week in Seattle. The 49ers defense has been dominant, ranking 1st in points and yards allowed. And while Love threw for 203 yards and 2 scores last week, he faces a much tougher test against the likes of Nick Bosa and Fred Warner .
|Texans at Ravens
|Packers at 49ers
Sunday Features Allen-Mahomes, Brady’s Return
Sunday’s slate begins with the weekend’s tastiest quarterback matchup. Buffalo’s Josh Allen nearly topped 400 yards last week against Miami and will go throw-for-throw with 2018 MVP Patrick Mahomes. The Bills famously squandered a 3-point lead versus Kansas City in last year’s divisional round after an epic duel between the gunslingers .
Closing out the weekend, 7-time Super Bowl champ Tom Brady makes his return to the site of last year’s NFC Championship heartbreak. Brady and the Bucs head to Detroit looking for revenge against Dan Campbell’s gritty Lions squad. Detroit has relied on a fierce rushing attack behind D’Andre Swift, while Brady continues to excel even at 45 years old after throwing for 351 yards and 2 touchdowns to oust rival Dallas last round .
|Bills at Chiefs
|Buccaneers at Lions
Divisional Round Shapes Up as Pivotal Playoff Slate
Despite entering as favorites across the board, home domination is far from guaranteed this round. 4 of the last 7 top seeds have been upended at this stage, including both #1 seeds last season . Still, survived teams know they must seize the moment. 9 of the last 10 conference champions have been either a #1 seed or the survivor of last week’s Buffalo-Kansas City shootout .
For fantasy players, stars should again shine bright. 5 of the top 10 DFS scorers from last week’s Super Wild Card slate were quarterbacks, while 6 of the overall top 12 came from Bills-Dolphins alone . Expect more fireworks this weekend.
Bettors also see opportunity, as early action favors the Lions despite their underdog status . Overall the home teams are expected to hold serve, however, setting up mouth-watering conference championship matchups .
No matter the results, one thing looks certain – with elite talents taking center stage, the divisional round once again shapes up as the NFL playoffs’ main event .
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