NFC Playoffs Divisional Matchups

NFC Playoffs Divisional Matchups

The NFL playoffs wildcard weekend felt anything but wild.  Unless you are a Cowboys fan and then it felt wildly horrible. Maybe the NFL didn’t think hard enough about the expanded playoff format and how a 2-seed vs 7-seed doesn’t typically result in a great game. Nonetheless, the league loves money and money came in this weekend with viewers. In fact, over 41 million people tuned in for that Cowboys/49ers game. This weekend, the competition gets better, the 1-seeds emerge from the shadows and eight teams remain. Here are the four teams representing the NFC’s hopes for a title.


San Francisco 49ers vs Green Bay Packers:

Saturday – 8:15 ET

The 49ers barely snuck into the playoffs with a massive comeback in Week 18 against the LA Rams and then delivered the one and only upset of the wildcard round. Out of the six wildcard games, five of the home-team favorites won, but the Niners didn’t allow that to happen. The Packers had a bye week and are coming in rested and collected. This team played like the best in the NFC all season long and there have been very few slip ups.

The Niners are going to need all their stars in this game, which could be an issue as QB Jimmy Garoppolo battles a thumb and shoulder injury and his status is unclear for this weekend. If the Niners are forced to go with Trey Lance, this is a much different game. So different in fact that the betting line is already shifting massively in the Packers favor to make up for it. If appears that star edge rusher Nick Bosa will play for the 49ers, but it’s a situation worth monitoring.

The Packers are a team that will run the ball ad nauseum and use play-action to get defenses on their toes. Aaron Rodgers should win the MVP this season and the 49ers are going to have a tall task of stopping him, RB Aaron Jones, and WR Davante Adams. Green Bay looked better in the middle of the season than the end of it, but I am still not putting my eggs in San Francisco’s basket this week.

Prediction: Packers by 7


Los Angeles Rams vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Sunday – 3:00 ET

In my mind, this is the best NFC game this weekend. The Bucs and the Rams both have dynamic offenses, and we could see an explosion of points. The Rams took care of Arizona last weekend in convincing fashion. The Bucs did the same to the Eagles, but they did have a concerning injury to their star tackle Tristan Wirfs. If he can’t go in this game, it’s going to be a nightmare for Tom Brady against Aaron Donald and Von Miller, and I assume the Rams would blitz all-day.

In the Tom Brady Bucs era, the Rams have defeated Tampa in back-to-back seasons. This year, it was another potent offensive air-raid attack that did the Bucs in against LA. Tampa’s secondary has improved over the course of the season as it’s gotten healthier and they must have good play from guys like Antoine Winfield and Carlton Davis to slow down guys like Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr. Todd Bowles is getting tons of attention for one of the many head coach openings around the league, and a master class defensive performance from the Bucs this week would put him at the very top of most team’s list. It’s tough to bet against Brady in any playoff setting, and this game is being played in Tampa where the Bucs only lost one game all season.

Prediction: Bucs by 3