We review the most interesting topics of each game, we provide risky predictions, the most important statistics and the final score of each game
The Divisional Round of the 2021 NFL season continues this Sunday with two games that will define the matchups for the Conference Finals and we have you covered with everything you need to know for the second weekend of the playoffs. Our NFL Nation reporters share with us the most important clues of each game, a risky prediction of each game and, of course, their prediction of the final score.
Plus, ESPN Stats & Information give us important stats we need to know for each game and our “Football Power Index” (FPI) breaks down the numbers by rating games (on a scale of 1 to 100) and a game protection and Kevin Seifert tells us everything we need to know about officers. Everything you need to know is here in one place to help you stay informed for a packed weekend of playoff football.RELATED
Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes still have a chance to meet again in the Super Bowl. Getty Images
On Saturday, the Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers sealed their tickets after their wins over the Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers, respectively. The action will conclude with an exciting game this Sunday night between the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs, which has the ingredients to become one of the best games of the entire season.
Sunday, 2 pm CDMX Match rating: 87.3 | Line: TB-3 (48)
What to watch: The Rams have been short on secondary defense, but the Bucs could play without All-Pro right tackle Tristan Wirfs, who suffered a high ankle sprain last week against the Philadelphia Eagles. That’s a huge blow for Tampa Bay against arguably the most devastating quarterback pressure in the league. The Buccaneers may need to rely more on their defense, which nearly got a shutout last week against the Eagles but allowed 331 passing yards and four touchdowns to Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford and company. in the matchup between the two teams in Week 3 (a 34-24 win for Los Angeles). — Jenna Laine
Risky pick: Stafford and Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady will each throw three touchdown passes in a game to be decided in the final minutes. The Rams acquired Stafford believing the veteran quarterback would play a key role in propelling them to the Super Bowl at their stadium. Stafford will get a chance to prove he’s that man against a seven-time Super Bowl winner. He knows he’ll have to take his team to the end zone a lot to counter Brady and the Tampa Bay offense; Brady’s 32 touchdown passes in 16 Divisional Round games are 14 more than any other quarterback has thrown. So expect extraordinary numbers from the quarterbacks. –Lindsey Thiry
Stat to consider: Will Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey outshine Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans? Evans saw Ramsey face him on just 18 percent of his routes in the Week 3 regular-season matchup, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. And in two games against the Rams over the past two years, Evans has caught 8 of 10 passes for 101 yards when facing another defender. Against Ramsey he caught 5 of 9 passes for 54 yards.
Tom Brady’s history and numbers are dominant, but the Los Angeles team is a serious threat.
What we need to know from the officials: Referee Shawn Hochuli’s regular-season squad threw the third-most penalties (15.5 per game), yet the Rams and Buccaneers were among the league’s 10 least punished teams in 2021 The Rams ranked No. 3 (92), and the Buccaneers finished No. 9 (107). Hochuli’s crew had 57 penalties for holding the offense (third-most in the league), but the Rams and Buccaneers were penalized just 16 and 20 times for it, respectively (both ranked among the bottom seven in the NFL). –Seifert
Thiry pick: Buccaneers 34, Rams 32 Laine pick: Buccaneers 31, Rams 28 FPI pick: TB, 65.8 percent (by 5.3-point average)
Sunday, 5:30 pm CDMX Match rating: 96.3 | Line: KC-2 (53.5)
What to watch: The Bills did a great job of stopping the big plays when they faced Patrick Mahomes in Week 5, limiting the Chiefs to one 20-plus-yard pass. For its part, Buffalo connected with four passes of at least 30 yards with two ending in touchdowns. The Chiefs have to find a way to win — or at least keep up with the Bills — in this category, or they could experience another result like that 18-point blowout. –Adam Teicher
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Risky pick: Bills quarterback Josh Allen will rush for at least 50 yards and throw at least three touchdown passes on Sunday. The Bills’ offense has rushed for 110 yards and averaged at least 4.0 yards per carry in six straight games, the second-longest streak in the NFL this year (Eagles). That streak has coincided with Allen being used more as a running back, which will continue against the Chiefs. He had 59 yards on 11 carries in their previous meeting this year. Plus, the offensive line will keep him clean, extending his sackless streak to five games and allowing him to build on a five-pass performance in a much closer Divisional Round game. –Alaina Getzenberg
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Stat to consider: Mahomes leads the NFL in fake-run touchdowns, while Allen ranks second. Both quarterbacks have top-10 league passer ratings on play-action plays, too. However, the defensive side of the game could be important. The Bills have allowed the lowest passer rating of any opponent in play-action passes, while the Chiefs’ defense has allowed the highest in the NFL.
What we need to know about the officials: Referee John Hussey’s regular-season squad threw the third-fewest penalties per game (12.1), yet he was assigned to manage two of the league’s most punished teams. The Bills ranked 29th (139) and the Chiefs 24th (129). The Chiefs were handed 36 offense-holding penalties, third-most in the NFL, while Hussey’s crew had 40, sixth-most among all officiating teams. Hussey’s crew had the second-most taunt/taunt penalties (seven), but threw the fewest flags for illegal contact, defensive holding penalties and defensive pass interference combined (18). –Seifert
Getzenberg Pick: Bills 34, Chiefs 31 Teicher Pick: Chiefs 27, Bills 24 FPI Prediction: BUF, 52.1 percent (by 0.7 point average)