The AFC Divisional Round is set, and we have two great matchups. Especially, when you consider that one of these teams – looking at you Houston – was considered as long of a shot as they come, during the preseason, to make the playoffs. It should be a great weekend of football and the ultimate test for these four to see who will be in the AFC Championship game. Let’s break down the AFC 2023 Playoffs Divisional Matchups.
Houston Texans vs Baltimore Ravens
Yeah…. we didn’t expect the Texans to be here. I would say no one had this on their bingo sheet. But C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson, who they took with consecutive picks in this past draft, have been nothing short of incredible. Stroud is easily the Offensive Rookie of the Year and I’d have made a case for him to be the MVP had he not missed a few games with a concussion which knocked his numbers down the stat sheet a bit. This is their toughest test, facing the Baltimore Ravens, the 1-seed in the AFC and a team that has dominated the very best in the NFL week-after-week.
This is going to be a real test for the Texans offense. They can be explosive, and they can score quickly, when need be, but they have lost receivers Tank Dell and Noah Brown to injuries, and the Ravens have the best defense in the National Football League. My players to watch are the QBs. For Stroud, I want to see if he can continue his rookie success. For Lamar Jackson, can he finally breakthrough in the playoffs? He hasn’t had any real career success up to this point in the postseason, but this year is different for him and the Ravens. Prediction: Texans 20 Ravens 31
Kansas City Chiefs vs Buffalo Bills
I used to anxiously await the great Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning playoff games. There was something about the two best quarterbacks in the league going head-to-head in these all-out battles. While this is the first year in decades that neither of those QBs will participate in postseason play, we have found the successors to those full-blown battles.
Patrick Mahomes vs. Josh Allen is as good as it gets. The playoff matchups between these two have been epic up to this point. The last time we saw them in postseason action was in 2022 during what I consider to be one of the greatest football games ever played. There were five scores in the fourth quarter before the Chiefs put the game to rest in OT. It sparked enough outrage that changed playoff overtime rules the following season.
The Bills enter the contest with the better team. Allen and his offense have been playing at a high level ever since Joe Brady took over as offensive coordinator. The Chiefs looked like a mess down the stretch, but it’s the playoffs and Andy Reid is as good as anyone when it comes to coaching in a big game. The players to watch for me are the running backs. James Cook and Isiah Pacheco are two of the best young backs in the league and get these offenses going. Prediction: Chiefs 24 Bills 28