NFL Weekly Predictions: Divisional

Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.

Los Angeles Rams @ Green Bay (-7½)

The Rams dominated the Seahawks in Seattle, winning 30-20 to advance to the divisional round and a meeting with the Packers. L.A.'s aggressive defense sacked Russell Wilson 5 times and returned a Wilson interception for a touchdown.

"We brought the 'D,'" Jalen Ramsey said, "and Wilson was forced to suck it. But for the Seahawks, there's always next year. I know the whole team is anxious to get back on the field. If Russell wants to 'cook,' he can, and he's got quite a 'wait' staff now.

"We're excited to go to Green Bay. Lambeau is a historic venue, especially in the playoffs. Honestly, it'll be cool to say 'Mystique' and not be answered by a stripper.

"They say 'defense wins championships.' For the sake of this team, I hope to hell this is true."

The top-seeded Packers are seeking their second consecutive trip to the NFC championship game.

"We were thrilled to be the NFC's No. 1 seed," Aaron Rodgers said. "I know it's often overstated, but that week off before the divisional round is a big deal. It could very well be the most important bye in the franchise's history, second only to when we said 'bye' to Mike McCarthy. Boy, Mike really turned the Cowboys around. Three hundred and sixty degrees that is, so they're headed in the same direction they were going when he was hired.

"We know the Rams are coming with an impressive defense. But we're not afraid of any defense. That comes from playing in the NFC North, where defenses strike fear only in their own defensive coordinators.

"The temperature on Sunday in Green Bay is forecast to be in the high teens. If you would have forecast 'high teens' for Lawrence Taylor, he would have said 'too old.'

"Anyway, this year's soon-to-be MVP, plus Lambeau Field, plus cold weather equals a slim chance of victory for Jared Goff and the Rams, a 'win chill' if you will."

Packers win, 27-17.

Baltimore @ Buffalo (-2½)

Josh Allen passed for 2 scores and rushed for another as the Bills survived a tough Colts challenge in a 27-24 win.

"That was the Bills first playoff win since 1995," Allen said. "The franchise was 0-6 in the playoffs before our victory. An 0-6 record is nothing to be proud of, but it does make 0-4 sound a little better.

"Lamar Jackson may be the scariest player in the NFL. Our defense will probably need little time to get used to Lamar's speed, especially after playing Philip Rivers. Lamar can go from '0-60' in a matter of seconds; Rivers would need a lifetime to hit that mark, but of course I'm talking about the number of children he's fathered."

Lamar Jackson rushed for 136 yards and a touchdown to lead the Ravens to a come-from-behind 20-13 win over the Titans at Nissan Stadium.

"Some of our players trampled on the Titans logo after Marcus Peter's interception in the fourth quarter," Jackson said. "That's like spitting in someone's face, which has also been done by us. But we meant no disrespect. In fact, it was beyond our control. We were overcome by an outbreak of 'turf toe,' and just like with us and COVID, we couldn't stop it.

"That's my first playoff win. So, the 'monkey's off my back,' so to speak. And it's a relief. It feels like I've dropped a load.

"There's a good chance that there will be snow on the ground in Buffalo on Saturday night. I've never played in the snow before, and it has me a little worried. But wouldn't it be funny if Mother Nature 'took a dump' on the field?"

Ravens win, 28-27.

Cleveland @ Kansas City (-9½)

The Chiefs open defense of their Super Bowl title against the Browns at Arrowhead Stadium. K.C. is looking to be the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champions since the 2004 Patriots.

"Overlooking the Browns would be a mistake," Andy Reid said. "Trust me, none of my players will be posting Tik Tok videos, or saying the 'Browns will be Browns,' or showing up totally unprepared to play. Our vision is firmly on the Browns. You could say we have 'Brown eye.'

"I'm baffled that the Texans didn't even interview Eric Bieniemy for their head coaching job. Their owner, Cal McNair, has a history of passing on minority candidates. And McNair is apparently happy with a mediocre product. Thus his hiring creed of 'White is just alright.' McNair should be considered a 'Bieniemy of the state.'

"Patrick and Baker Mayfield met once in the college ranks, and it resulted in a 66-59 game. Now, we don't expect to combine for 125 points on Sunday, because we should be able to do that by ourselves."

The Browns scored 28 unanswered points in the first quarter in an overwhelming 48-37 win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Cleveland defense set the tone, scoring on a fumble recovery on the first play of the game.

"As soon as Maurkice Pouncey hiked the ball way over Ben Roethlisberger's head," Baker Mayfield said, "the sideline, in unison, said, 'Oh snap!'

"Keep in mind, we crushed the Steelers without Kevin Stefanski on the sideline. Kevin watched the game in his basement. Hue Jackson was also a 'cellar dweller,' for two years, in fact.

"The only thing I can say about the Steelers is this: 'They had a good 'beat' and were easy to dance to.' First, JuJu Smith-Schuster says the 'Browns will be Browns,' then Chase Claypool says the Chiefs will 'clap' us. Leave it to the Steelers to provide bulletin board material before and after the game.

Chiefs win, 40-27.

Tampa Bay @ New Orleans (-3½)

Tom Brady passed for 381 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Bucs held off Washington 31-23 at FedEx Field.

"I became the oldest quarterback to throw a playoff touchdown," Brady said, "breaking George Blanda's record. I should celebrate in Blanda fashion, with a fifth of whiskey, a pack of Lucky Strikes, and an ice bath with a 12-pack and John Madden. Or, I could review tape and determine how we beat a Taylor Heinicke-quarterbacked team by only 8 points.

"We're 0-2 versus the Saints this year, losing handily both times. I'm sure that's gonna change, probably to 0-3, but we're gonna try our hardest to beat them.

"Drew Brees and I have a combined age of 84 years. Yes, we're old. I mean, real old. We're so old, Las Vegas has set our over/under at 'the ground.'"

The Saints overwhelmed the visiting Bears, 21-9, as New Orleans' defense held the Bears to just 48 yards rushing. Drew Brees passed for 2 touchdowns and was not sacked at all.

"We stopped the rush," Sean Payton said, "and made the Bears one dimensional. That one dimension is Mitch Trubisky, and after his performance, Chicago's search for a new QB just became multi-dimensional.

"The key for our defense is to get pressure on Tom Brady. We want Brady to feel that Superdome turf. For the sake of argument, let's call that turf 'pasture.' Is it crazy to ask that a 43-year-old G.O.A.T. be sent out to pasture? And by 'out,' I surely don't mean 'unconscious.'

"Officiating will likely be a factor. It usually is when we're in the playoffs. History tells us that by not calling pass interference, the officials 'run' interference for the other team."

Saints win, 29-24.

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