NFL Playoff Picture 2021: AFC, NFC Brackets, Odds, Scenarios and Picks

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2021

NFL Playoff Picture 2021: AFC, NFC Brackets, Odds, Scenarios and Picks

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    Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

    The NFL's divisional round is upon us, football fans! While we'll be treated to only four games instead of the six we had over Super Wild Card Weekend, it should be a thrilling two days of football.

    The action will kick off Saturday afternoon, with the Green Bay Packers hosting the Los Angeles Rams. It will end Sunday with the New Orleans Saints hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both the Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs are in playoff action for the first time this season, as both earned first-round byes.

    Here we'll dig into the full divisional-round schedule, along with the latest lines and over/unders from DraftKings Sportsbook, predictions, playoff scenarios and updated Super Bowl odds.

Divisional-Round Bracket, Schedule and Odds

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    Stephen Brashear/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

            

    5. Baltimore Ravens at 2. Buffalo Bills

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

    Buffalo -2.5, 49.5 O/U

            

    6. Cleveland Browns at 1. Kansas City Chiefs

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

    Kansas City -10, 57 O/U

             

    5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 2. New Orleans Saints

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

    New Orleans -3, 51.5 O/U

Divisional-Round Overview, Scenarios and Predictions

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    The Packers will get their first taste of postseason action Saturday afternoon against the Jared Goff-led Rams. While Goff is still recovering from thumb surgery, he'll get the start over John Wolford, who has been ruled out.

    Other notable injuries for this game include Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald (ribs), who is expected to play. Green Bay, meanwhile, will be without offensive tackle David Bakhtiari, who is on injured reserve, and his potential replacement Jared Veldheer (reserve/COVID-19).

    Being shorthanded against Donald and the Rams defense could be problematic for Aaron Rodgers and Co. Look for Los Angeles to try slowing this game down, leaning on the run and forcing the Packers offense into mistakes.

    That strategy worked against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks. We'll learn soon enough if it works against the Packers.

    In Saturday's nightcap, the Buffalo Bills will host the Baltimore Ravens. These are two of the hottest teams in the NFL right now, and neither has lost a game since the Ravens fell in Week 12—Buffalo's last loss was in Week 10.

    This game should feature a fun duel of dual-threat quarterbacks in Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen. While their styles are different, both signal-callers are capable of beating a defense in multiple ways. This one could come down to which team has the most timely defensive stops, and the Ravens—ranked seventh in total defense and second in points allowed—have the advantage there.

    The most notable news on the injury front here is the fact that Ravens guard D.J. Fluker and cornerback Marcus Peters are both questionable.

    The Chiefs will host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday afternoon in perhaps the biggest mismatch of the weekend. Kansas City rested many starters in Week 17 and should be relatively fresh. However, wideout Sammy Watkins and linebacker Willie Gay have been ruled out.

    The Chiefs will also be without right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who last played in Week 6.

    "He's not going to be back this week, and we're literally taking that day-by-day," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said, per McKenzie Nelson of KSHB 41 Kansas City.

    The Chiefs are expected to have Clyde Edwards-Helaire back. The Browns, meanwhile, are expected to have cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Kevin Johnson back from the reserve/COVID-19 list, along with guard Joel Bitonio.

    Injuries aside, the Browns' 21st-ranked scoring defense against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense screams mismatch.

    The most historical game of the weekend will be Sunday night's matchup between the Saints and the Buccaneers. Naturally, this will be highlighted by a duel between Tom Brady and Drew Brees—their first-ever postseason showdown.

    While quarterback play will be important, this game could be determined by whether the Buccaneers are able to make progress against the New Orleans defense. The last time these two teams met, Tampa was held to just 194 yards of total offense and turned the ball over three times.

    Buccaneers defensive lineman Jeremiah Ledbetter and Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson are out for this one. New Orleans will also be without offensive lineman Will Clapp, who is on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

    Taysom Hill and Latavius Murray are both questionable for New Orleans. This could leave the Saints one-dimensional against a Buccaneers defense ranked first against the run. Expect this game to be closer than the previous meeting.

    The potential scenarios for the divisional round are fairly straightforward. The Browns and Rams are incapable of hosting a conference title game. The Ravens and Buccaneers can only host if all road teams win this weekend. Kansas City and Green Bay have home-field advantage for as long as they remain in the postseason—up until Super Bowl LV anyway.

                  

    Picks for Conference Championship Weekend

    5. Baltimore Ravens at 1. Kansas City Chiefs

    2. New Orleans Saints at 1. Green Bay Packers

Super Bowl Odds

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    Charlie Riedel/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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