Friday, May 27

NFL playoff picks, predictions for division games: Bengals defeated Titans; Packers send 49ers home


All four teams that played in last year’s conference championships are still alive heading into the NFL’s divisional playoffs this weekend.

However, we are guaranteed at least one newcomer.

Cincinnati, led by second-year quarterback Joe Burrow and rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, will face top-seeded Tennessee on the road on Saturday. Derrick Henry, who has not played since Week 8 due to a foot injury, will return.

Saturday’s cup features a classic NFC rivalry between San Francisco and Green Bay at Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers is 0-3 against the 49ers in the postseason, and the 49ers have been hot with an offense that features Deebo Samuel and George Kittle.

The Buccaneers defeated Philadelphia in the NFC wild card round, and that streak at home continues against the Rams. Tom Brady has the defending Super Bowl champions on point heading into the divisional round.

The Chiefs and Bills will close out the weekend in a rematch of last year’s AFC championship. Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen combined for 10 TD passes in the wild-card round, so defenses had better be ready.

Sporting News went 5-1 in a row in wild card weekend. Here are our picks for the divisional round:

MORE NFL PLAYOFFS:
AFC and NFC support | television schedule | ATS Divisional Teams

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NFL playoff picks, predictions for 2022 division games

  • Cincinnati Bengals vs Tennessee Titans (-3)

Saturday, 4:30 p.m., CBS, Paramount+

The opening lineup moved down, and the Bengals are a trendy surprise pick here. Cincinnati is 6-3 ATS and 5-4 S/U as an underdog this season. The Titans ranked second in the NFL in run defense this season, and the Bengals can’t quit the run early to keep Tennessee’s solid pass rush honest. Henry’s return would be huge for the Titans and Ryan Tannehill. The Titans are 2-3 all-time in home playoff games since moving from Houston.

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It all comes down to the Burrow-Chase connection for Cincinnati on offense and whether Trey Hendrickson (concussion) will be available on defense. Burrow showed last week that the moment was not too much for him. Tennessee won’t be easy, and Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor will have to pick his spots to be aggressive.

This boils down to the rising star in Burrow. He does it again with a late touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd that sends the Bengals to their first AFC championship game since 1988.

To choose: Bengals 27, Titans 24

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Saturday, 8:15 p.m., FOX, FOX Sports

This is the ninth playoff meeting between the two classic NFC rivals, and that series is tied 4-4. The Packers had a week to rest players, and it will be interesting to see who else returns for the playoff race. Aaron Rodgers, who is 0-3 against the 49ers in the postseason, should also be fresh. The Packers jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the regular season matchup, but needed a last-second field goal for a 30-28 victory.

Look to Rodgers for Davante Adams, who had 12 receptions for 132 yards in Game 1, to get involved early to set a tone against a defense waiting to see if Nick Bosa (concussion protocol) and Fred Warner (injury) will be available. . Jimmy Garoppolo will have success in the middle passing game with George Kittle and Deebo Samuel as well against a Green Bay defense that was shaky down the stretch, but it all comes down to generating a running game. If the Packers can get ahead early, then Garoppolo will have to take too many risks down the stretch.

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Remember, the Packers went 8-0 S/U and 7-1 ATS at Lambeau this season. The Niners were 7-3 S/U and 6-4 ATS on the road. This will be good. It’s a similar feel to the last game, but the Packers close the door a little earlier this time.

To choose: Packers 31, 49ers 24

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  • Los Angeles Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3)

Sunday, 3 p.m., NBC, Peacock, Universe

The Rams have beaten the Buccaneers in each of the last two seasons, so Tampa Bay has to be careful here. In the Week 3 matchup, Tom Brady (41 of 55, 432 yards, TD) and Matthew Stafford (27 of 38, 343 yards, 4 TD) let him fly in the Rams’ 34-24 win.

It’s the playoffs. The running game will be a bigger factor this time around, and Tampa Bay will monitor Tristan Wirfs’ injury throughout the week. They’ll need him against a passing rush led by Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd and Von Miller.

Brady will find a way, and Ke’Shawn Vaughn’s expanded role in the wild-card win is no accident. Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski will catch touchdowns, but it’s the threat of a running game that protects Brady here.

To choose: Buccaneers 33, Rams 23

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  • Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5)

Sunday, 6:30 p.m. CBS, Paramount+

The Bills defeated Kansas City 38-20 at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 5 in a game in which Josh Allen had 315 yards and three touchdowns. Buffalo averaged 21 receiving yards in that game, and the Chiefs couldn’t run the ball out of the Patrick Mahomes fight.

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Both quarterbacks showed their “A” game in the wild-card round, and Buffalo’s defense will have to find a way to deal with “Playoff Pat.” Mahomes is 6-1 with 20 touchdowns and an interception in seven AFC playoff games.

Will Buffalo be able to protect the ball again? The Bills had no turnovers in Game 1, and if Allen can do it again with the guns around him, Buffalo will have a chance at an AFC championship game at home.

We could see that happen, but we just can’t go against the Chiefs at home, especially with a defense that has improved since Game 1.

To choose: Chiefs 34, bills 28




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