NFL Playoffs 2021: Updated Divisional-Round Odds and Bracket Scenarios

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IJanuary 13, 2021

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) talks with teammates in the huddle during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

The Super Bowl champions are set to begin their quest to successfully defend their title. After earning the No. 1 seed in the AFC and getting a first-round bye, the Kansas City Chiefs will play their first game of this year's playoffs during Sunday's divisional-round action.

They will be looking to beat the Cleveland Browns, the No. 6 seed in the AFC who are coming off an upset win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card Round. And while Kansas City is going to be heavily favored after going an NFL-best 14-2 during the regular season, anything can happen in the postseason and Cleveland has proved it's capable of notching a big win on the road.

The Chiefs-Browns matchup is one of four divisional-round games on this weekend's schedule. Two games will be taking place Saturday, followed by two more on Sunday, with the four winners advancing to a conference championship game the following weekend.

Here's a look at the full divisional-round schedule, along with the current odds (via DraftKings Sportsbook) for each matchup and a breakdown of bracket scenarios moving forward.

            

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AFC Divisional-Round Odds, Bracket Scenarios

No. 6 Cleveland Browns at No. 1 Kansas City Chiefs (-10), Sunday at 3:05 p.m. ET, CBS

No. 5 Baltimore Ravens at No. 2 Buffalo Bills (-2.5), Saturday at 8:15 p.m. ET, NBC

          

For the second year in a row, the Chiefs are in position to potentially host the AFC Championship Game. As the top seed, if they beat the Browns to advance, it's guaranteed that the conference title game will take place at Arrowhead Stadium on Jan. 24.

That worked out well for Kansas City in 2020, when it utilized its home-field advantage to win in both the divisional round (a 51-31 victory over the Houston Texans) and the AFC Championship Game (a 35-24 win over the Tennessee Titans).

As for the Browns, they need to keep winning on the road to maintain their Super Bowl LV hopes. They're the lowest remaining seed in the AFC, so there will be no game in Cleveland again this season.

The Browns had no trouble getting off to a fast start on the road in the Wild Card Round, though, as they became the first team to score 28 points in the first quarter of a playoff game. They cruised to a 48-37 win over the Steelers, notching their first playoff victory since the 1994 season.

However, they now face an even tougher test as they look to reach the AFC Championship for the first time since the 1989 campaign.

"We've been the underdogs since the beginning of the season," Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett said, according to Anthony Poisal of ClevelandBrowns.com. "Nobody thought that we would have a winning record. Nobody thought that we were going to get to the playoffs."

Before the Browns-Chiefs clash, the Bills and Ravens will face off in Buffalo on Saturday night for the other berth in the AFC Championship Game.

If the Chiefs win, then either the Bills or Ravens will be heading to Kansas City the following weekend; but if the Browns win, then the Bills or Ravens will host the conference title game.

Buffalo won four straight AFC Championship Games from the 1990-93 seasons, but it hasn't been there since that sequence. This is the Bills' first divisional-round appearance since the 1995 season, when they snapped a six-game playoff losing streak with a win over the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card Round.

Baltimore is coming off its first playoff win with Lamar Jackson at quarterback, as it beat the Tennessee Titans this past weekend. The Ravens are looking to get to the AFC Championship Game for the first time since the 2012 season, which was also the last time they won the Super Bowl.

          

NFC Divisional-Round Odds, Bracket Scenarios

No. 6 Los Angeles Rams at No. 1 Green Bay Packers (-7), Saturday at 4:35 p.m. ET, Fox

No. 5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 2 New Orleans Saints (-3), Sunday at 6:40 p.m. ET, Fox

       

The Packers will be well-rested after getting the lone first-round bye in the NFC, and they are the No. 1 seed in the conference for the first time since the 2011 season. They could also host the NFC Championship Game if they beat the Rams on Saturday.

While Green Bay will be led by potential NFL MVP winner Aaron Rodgers, Los Angeles has more uncertainty surrounding who will start under center. Backup quarterback John Wolford started the Rams' win over the Seattle Seahawks but suffered a neck injury and was replaced by Jared Goff, who was only 12 days removed from right thumb surgery.

As the lowest remaining seed in the NFC, the Rams will have to keep playing away from home with no potential scenario for another game in Los Angeles.

Green Bay is looking to reach the conference title game for the second year in a row. In 2020, it lost on the road to the San Francisco 49ers. So perhaps the home-field advantage will pay dividends for the Packers this season.

"We thought we could win it last year [but] the Niners were such a dominant team and that maybe hit our confidence," Rodgers said, per ESPN's Rob Demovsky. "... But I feel like we have a lot of confidence and believe in ourselves. Offensively, we're just a better, much more efficient team."

When the Saints and Buccaneers kick off on Sunday night, they'll know whether they'll be playing for the opportunity to host the NFC Championship Game or heading to Wisconsin. If the Rams win, the conference title game will be held in either New Orleans or Tampa, Florida.

This is the third time that the Saints and Bucs are facing off this season, and New Orleans is hoping this matchup goes like the first two. It won 34-23 at home in Week 1, then beat the Bucs again on the road in Week 9, rolling to a 38-3 victory.

New Orleans is looking to get back to the NFC Championship Game for the first time since the 2018 season, while Tampa Bay hasn't been there since the 2002 campaign.

Before this past weekend, the Buccaneers hadn't won a playoff game since Super Bowl XXXVII, and they snapped a two-game postseason losing streak with their Wild Card Round win at Washington.


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