Here are Jack Green’s NFL predictions for four of the Divisional playoff games on Saturday and Sunday.
Green Bay Packers (-6.5) vs Los Angeles Rams
Fresh from a Wild Card round bye, the Packers should comfortably see off a Rams team that have been hit hard by injuries in recent weeks.
Quarterback Jared Goff and key starters Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp will all play through injuries for Los Angeles on Saturday, while Green Bay only have one player listed on the injury report on their entire roster.
The Rams have an excellent defence and played well in a win over the Seattle Seahawks last week, but the Packers ended the season with six straight wins behind the MVP-calibre play of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has put up points against even the league’s best defences this season.
Buffalo Bills (-2.5) vs Baltimore Ravens
The Bills came into the playoffs as the hottest team in football and earned a 27-24 win over a dangerous Indianapolis Colts team last week.
The Ravens also impressed as they beat the Tennessee Titans and have now won six straight games, but they have struggled to win big games against tough opponents this season, having previously lost to the Titans, the Kansas City Chiefs and twice to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Buffalo have a top-two offense and have stepped it up defensively over the second half of the season, averaging 19 points conceded per game in the last seven weeks. They are the better all-around team and should advance.
Cleveland Browns (+10) vs Kansas City Chiefs
The Browns pulled off a huge upset last week, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 48-37 despite having their preparation dramatically affected by a Covid-19 outbreak.
Cleveland deserve a huge amount of respect for that victory and how they closed out the regular season, winning six of their last eight games to earn a playoff spot, and they should be able to keep this close against Super Bowl favourites Kansas City.
The Chiefs are a formidable opponent, but their offense hasn’t quite been at its best of late, averaging just over 25 points per game over the last six weeks of the regular season, and their mediocre run defence will have trouble stopping Cleveland from controlling the ball.
New Orleans Saints to beat Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Saints beat divisional rivals Tampa Bay in both of their meetings during the regular season, winning 34-23 on the opening weekend before a 38-3 thrashing in week 9.
It is often said that it’s hard to beat the same team three times, but New Orleans accomplished that feat against the Carolina Panthers. Since 2000, teams in the Saints’ position (playing a team in the playoffs who they beat twice in the regular season) have won the third game 75 per cent of the time.
This will probably be the closest of the three meetings, as Tampa Bay have played their best football of the season in the past few weeks, but the Saints’ excellent defence make them an extremely difficult match-up and they should advance here.
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