Cliff Notes – CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Buffalo to end Kansas City’s grip on AFC

by Cliff Gibson

This post was initially published in The Cliff Notes by CSN contributor Cliff Gibson.

So the “super” wild-card weekend wasn’t so super after all. Four of the six games were blowouts and the other two were close but left with the stench of arguments over official rulings during the contests. Fortunately, where wild-card weekend seems to disappoint more often than not, the divisional round gives us wildly-entertaining games on an annual basis.

Injuries look to play a big part in what happens this weekend, with key players either expected to return (Derrick Henry) or miss the weekend altogether (Tristan Wirfs). Others are severely banged up (Jimmy Garoppolo) but expected to play, which could affect their ability. Nonetheless, it’s the postseason, which means the healthiest team is always at an advantage when it’s “win or go home.”

If not for Josh Allen going absolutely insane last weekend, I would’ve gone unbeaten in my wild-card picks, but watching that performance unfold was worth taking the L. I’m far less confident in my picks this week, in fact, I would only put money on one of them. See if you can figure out which one it is.

Cincinnati at Tennessee – Saturday

Joe Burrow and the Bengals weren’t exactly dominant in their wild-card win over Las Vegas, but good enough to get Cincinnati its first playoff win in decades. They have a favorable matchup against the Titans’ pass defense, which can be lacking at times. However, Cincy is facing a ROAD playoff game this time, a road crowd, and the expected return of Henry, who can alter the game on his own. Henry makes a good Tennessee team even better, and they’ll be good enough to advance to the AFC title game this weekend. PICK: Titans

San Francisco at Green Bay – Saturday

The Niners are coming off a big road win at Dallas, but winning at Lambeau Field is a completely different animal. Add the injured hand and shoulder to an already average Garoppolo and San Francisco is suddenly a one-dimensional team. Granted, they run the ball as well as any other team and Kyle Shanahan is a master at moving guys around to cause confusion for opposing defenses. But, this is Green Bay. This is Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams. This is the playoffs, and having a big question mark at the QB position is detrimental to success. PICK: Packers

LA Rams at Tampa Bay – Sunday

Oh boy. This is the one I’ve been kicking around the longest and for good reason. Do the Rams come across the country and use their imposing defensive front to overwhelm a decimated Bucs offensive line? Or does Tom Brady have yet another masterpiece up his sleeve? Tampa Bay has played with and overcome injuries all season long, but thinking of what Aaron Donald and Von Miller could possibly do to a depleted Tampa line is enough to give anybody nightmares. But, I’ve learned in the past that it’s not wise to bet against the ageless one. I really want a Brady vs. Rodgers matchup in the NFC title game. So bad in fact that it may be blinding me from the truth here. PICK: Buccaneers

Buffalo at Kansas City – Sunday

I may be the last person to join the Josh Allen hype train, but, better late than never. What he did last weekend against a very good New England defense was nothing short of masterful. I’m fully expecting the Bills to move the ball at will again this weekend, although the Chiefs are more than capable of keeping up. Two elite offenses should keep the scoreboard operator plenty busy in the final divisional game of the weekend. Kansas City is two wins from playing in a third straight Super Bowl. But they won’t make it. The Bills get the ball last and Allen wins it with his legs. PICK: Bills

Last week: 5-1

Overall: 16-9

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