NFL Playoff Bracket 2021: Odds, Predictions for AFC and NFC Divisional Round

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2021

NFL Playoff Bracket 2021: Odds, Predictions for AFC and NFC Divisional Round

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    We've reached the divisional round of the 2020-21 NFL playoffs, and this year's edition is a study in the league's quarterbacking past and its future.

    Fans will be treated to the oldest quarterback matchup in the modern NFL era, when the soon-to-be 41-year old Drew Brees battles the 43-year-old Tom Brady. Over in the AFC, all four starting quarterbacks will be 25 or younger.

    Three of the AFC's quarterbacks—Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield—were selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft.

    Here, you'll find a complete look at the divisional-round schedule, along with the latest odds from DraftKings Sportsbook and predictions for every game.

AFC

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    5. Baltimore Ravens at 2. Buffalo Bills

    Saturday at 8:15 p.m. ET on NBC

    Buffalo -2.5, 50 Over/Under

    Saturday night's matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and the Buffalo Bills should be one of the most entertaining games of the entire postseason. Quarterbacks Allen and Jackson are both dual-threats capable of pulling out electric plays at any given point.

    This one should also represent a clash of styles, as the Ravens prefer a run-oriented game and the Bills like to air things out with Allen and wideout Stefon Diggs.

    Defense could be the deciding factor here, especially when the Ravens are on the ground. Jackson, Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins should all find a reasonable amount of running room against a Bills defense that ranked 26th in yards per carry allowed this season.

    Against the Indianapolis Colts last weekend, Buffalo surrendered 163 yards on the ground. If Baltimore can find similar success, it can control the tempo and allow its second-ranked scoring defense to put in work against Allen and Co.

    Prediction: Baltimore 30, Buffalo 28

          

    6. Cleveland Browns at 1. Kansas City Chiefs

    Sunday at 3:05 p.m. ET on CBS

    Kansas City -10, 57 O/U

    The Cleveland Browns stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild-card round, overcoming their divisional foe and a plethora of COVID-19-related absences in the process. Things will be much tougher against the Kansas City Chiefs, though, and the Chiefs aren't exactly sweating the matchup.

    "I wouldn't go that far," Chiefs wideout Sammy Watkins tweeted in response to the suggestion that Cleveland could provide competition for Kansas City in the AFC.

    The biggest problem for the Browns here is that they're carrying a defense ranked 22nd against the pass and 21st in scoring into a matchup with Mahomes, Watkins, Tryreek Hill and Travis Kelce.

    On top of that, Chiefs coach Andy Reid has had two weeks to prepare for the game, and Kansas City will be well rested.

    The Browns have the offensive firepower to keep this one close for some time, but barring the bizarre, the Chiefs should pull away at some point.

    Prediction: Kansas City  42, Cleveland 31

NFC

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    6. Los Angeles Rams at 1. Green Bay Packers

    Saturday at 4:35 p.m. ET on Fox

    Green Bay -6.5, 45.5 O/U

    Saturday afternoon's matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the Los Angeles Rams should be a classic fight between offense and defense. The Rams smothered Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks last week and will represent a stiff challenge for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

    However, injuries could hamper Los Angeles this week. The Rams have been mum about whether Jared Goff or John Wolford will start at quarterback. Meanwhile, star defensive tackle Aaron Donald is dealing with torn rib cartilage—though Donald does plan to play.

    "I just had a whole workout, feel strong, feel healthy, so I'm good," Donald said, per ESPN's Lindsey Thiry.

    With Donald on the field and cornerback Jalen Ramsey matched up with Davante Adams, the Rams defense can keep this one close. However, Green Bay has a massive quarterback advantage that could prove to be too much to overcome.

    Prediction: Green Bay 26, Los Angeles 23

       

    5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 2. New Orleans Saints

    Sunday at 6:40 p.m. ET on Fox

    New Orleans -3, 52 O/U

    While Round 3 of the Saints-Buccaneers battle will be headlined by the duel between Brady and Brees, there's a lot more involved. The Saints seem to have figured out how to slow the Buccaneers offense, as New Orleans won both of the regular-season battles convincingly.

    During the Saints' 38-3 win in Week 9, Tampa was held to just 194 yards of total offense and turned the ball over three times.

    Things probably won't be as lopsided in the three-match, but it's going to take the absolute best that Brady and Bruce Arians have to offer to overcome the New Orleans defense here.

    With Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas both expected to be in the lineup for New Orleans, the Saints should be able to counter with plenty of offense. While Tampa boasts the league's top run defense, it ranks just 21st against the pass.

    Expect Brees to take advantage and for New Orleans to punch its ticket to the NFC title game.

    Prediction: New Orleans 28, Tampa Bay 23

Updated Super Bowl Odds

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    Kansas City Chiefs 41-20

    Green Bay Packers 15-4

    Buffalo Bills 6-1

    New Orleans Saints 6-1

    Baltimore Ravens 8-1

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9-1

    Los Angeles Rams 20-1

    Cleveland Browns 30-1

                          


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