The weekly preview runs into the endzone with NFL tips for the Divisional Round to see who plays off for a spot in the Super Bowl.
History: Played 42: 49ers 19 V Vikings 22
Last meeting: September 9, 2019: Vikings 24 d 49ers 16 at U.S. Bank Stadium
Final Thoughts: The 49ers come into this one after a week off and it’s helping them already. Dee Ford and Kwon Alexander are both on the mend with Ford expected to return to this impressive defensive line. With Ford working alongside DeForest Buckner and Nick Bosa, this 49ers defence looks ready to get back to its best and cause Kirk Cousins all sorts of trouble.
Although, the Vikings aren’t too shabby in that department either. Equal with the 49ers with 48 sacks throughout the regular season, the two teams are tied for fifth in the league. Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen will no doubt have plenty to say about this result.
Further out, Deebo Samuel continues to impress for the 49ers after registering 102 receiving yards in Round 17 while George Kittle has announced himself as one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t short of weapons to aim at. The Vikings don’t have quite the same number, but Adam Thielen looked the goods last week with seven catches for 129 yards.
The 49ers are deserving favourites but the Vikings can certainly spoil the party. The first game of the round is my favourite to be the best.
History: Played 20: Ravens 10 V Titans 10
Last meeting: October 14, 2018: Ravens 21 V Titans 0 at Nissan Stadium
Final Thoughts: The Ravens didn’t only have the bye last week to rest and recover. They locked up the number one seed early enough to rest the likes of Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram, Earl Thomas and Mark Andrews in Week 17 too. On a 12-game winning streak heading into this one, the Ravens won 14 games in the regular season for the first time in franchise history.
That’s all thanks to the favourite for the Most Valuable Player award, Jackson. His incredible 80.4 rushing yards per game sees the Ravens lead the NFL in rushing with 206 yards per game – 45 yards more than 2nd.
The Titans will rely heavily on the run in this one as well. Derrick Henry finished the regular season at the top of the rushing yards list and found 182 yards on the ground against the Patriots last week.
Both teams finished the regular season with 21 rushing touchdowns while the Ravens managed half a yard more per carry at 5.5 yards.
The Titans caused a sensational upset when beating the Patriots last week. This is a different challenge, though. The Ravens play with the most potent offence in the league and will be fresh and ready to go this week. While it’s been a fun ride for the Titans this season, it looks like it’s coming to an end.
History: Played 10: Chiefs 5 V Texans 5
Last meeting: October 13, 2019: Texans 31 d Chiefs 24 at Arrowhead Stadium
Final Thoughts: The Chiefs have had an up and down season with Patrick Mahomes missing time and taking a couple of weeks to get back into the swing of things. However, they’ve won six games in a row to find form at the right time of the year.
Most think of Mahomes and his monster arm when it comes to the Chiefs with their 28.2 points per game ranking 5th in the NFL. It’s Kansas City’s recent defensive performances that have them on the third line of betting in the Super Bowl market at $4.50, though. They’ve kept the opposition to just 11.5 points per game throughout the six-game winning streak.
The Texans, on the other hand, haven’t done a great job of protecting Deshaun Watson of late. He was sacked seven times last week while a lacklustre start on the defensive end saw the Texans go 16-0 behind before mounting their comeback. Another start like that and it’s all over.
Mahomes is playing well now that he’s healthy and key players in Morris Claiborne, Andrew Wylie and Xavier Williams will all feel better for the week off after missing Week 17. It feels like the Chiefs have timed their run to perfection.
History: Played 19: Packers 11 V Seahawks 8
Last meeting: November 15, 2018: Seahawks 27 d Packers 24 at CenturyLink Field
Final Thoughts: Packers fans won’t need any reminding about what happened the last time these two met in this spot. The Packers raced out to a 16-0 lead and were cruising at halftime but should have been up a lot more. A Seahawks touchdown off a fake field goal got the comeback started before they finished it in overtime. We can only hope this playoff game is as exciting as the last.
Aaron Rodgers and Devante Adams are sure to excite. With the Seahawks finishing with the second-fewest sacks throughout the NFL regular season, Rodgers should have time in the pocket. If the pass rush does trouble Rodgers, Aaron Jones – who ran for over 1,000 yards this season – offers an elite alternative. The Packers offence is more dangerous than their 14th-ranked 23.5 points per game suggests.
The Seahawks are banged up. So banged up that they’ve not only had to pull Marshawn Lynch out of retirement but are increasing his role in for this game. Lucky for Seattle, Russell Wilson is on fire. He’d be a much bigger part of the NFL’s Most Valuable Player conversation if not for Jackson. With DK Metcalf exploding for 160 yards last week and Tyler Lockett and David Moore offering reliable targets, Wilson can take this game over despite the lack of rushing available.
The Packers have the healthier roster and home-field advantage, but they’ve not been convincing of late. Meanwhile, the Seahawks have displayed a little more consistency and are 8-1 on the road. Expecting a low-scoring affair, the Seahawks should at least keep it close if not win straight up ($2.70)