The NFL has whittled down its playoff pool to just eight teams. Now, the No. 1 seeds enter the chat as they look to begin what they hope to be a run to Arizona for Super Bowl LVII. Meanwhile, we also have a couple of Cinderella stories still on the table with both New York taking down the No. 3-seeded Vikings on Super Wild Card Weekend, and the Jaguars, who rallied from a 27-point deficit to beat the Chargers.
Last weekend had no shortage of drama and the same is expected during this divisional-round slate, especially with a trip to the conference title game on the line. While all of these games deserve your attention over the coming days, there are naturally a few especially intriguing matchups. Below, we rank the upcoming playoff slate along with the viewing information you need to catch all the action.
(All lines from Caesars Sportsbook)
4. Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs
Date: Saturday, Jan. 21 | Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
Location: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, Missouri)
TV: NBC | Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
Odds: Chiefs -9, O/U 53
This game does feature the biggest spread of the weekend, so the oddsmakers don't believe this will be a particularly close affair between the Jaguars and Chiefs, who are nearly a double-digit favorite in this head-to-head. These clubs did face one another back in Week 10 and the Chiefs won that matchup, 27-17.
However, you could argue that the Jaguars are an entirely different team than they were in that matchup. Since Week 11, Trevor Lawrence has completed 66% of his passes and has thrown 16 touchdowns along with six interceptions. Those numbers are nearly identical to Patrick Mahomes over that same stretch as the Chiefs QB has completed 67% of his throws with 16 touchdowns and five interceptions. Both teams are also 7-1 over that time. With that in mind, we could be getting quite the quarterback dual, which always makes for an enjoyable watch.
The question really becomes about Lawrence and what kind of play we'll see from him. The former top overall pick was dreadful to start his playoff debut against the Chargers as he threw four interceptions. However, he finished 23 of 29 for 253 yards and four touchdowns to help lead the comeback. If we get that level of play from Lawrence, we could be in for a high-scoring affair like the total suggests.
Also, it's worth pointing out that we do have a student vs. master narrative in this game with Doug Pederson taking on Andy Reid, whom he worked under as an assistant. Reid is 4-0 in the playoffs against his coaching tree, which adds to the rather dominating 24-8 record he has against them overall.
3. New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Date: Saturday, Jan. 21 | Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
Location: Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia)
TV: Fox | Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
Odds: Eagles -7.5, O/U 48
The Giants have been arguably the most interesting story down the final stretch of the season. Brian Daboll has unlocked this roster and particularly Daniel Jones, who continues to look like a quarterback the organization will be able to build around for the foreseeable future. Not only did they clinch a playoff berth, but they were able to upset the No. 3 seed Vikings on Super Wild Card Weekend thanks to a stellar day from Jones. He completed 68.5% of his passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns while adding a team-high 78 yards on the ground. Now, they'll need to go into Lincoln Financial Field and beat the Philadelphia Eagles to keep their Cinderella story going.
As they try to do that, it's going to be fascinating to see how Philadelphia looks as it comes out of the bye week. No team needed a week off to heal more than the Eagles. Now that they've been able to recuperate a bit, I wonder if that will be enough for them to get back to being the dominant team we saw earlier in the regular season that was virtually unbeatable. If they are, nabbing them at their current Super Bowl odds would be tremendous value.
Of course, you have to love the rivalry aspect of this matchup. These NFC East teams have already faced one another twice during the regular season, and that typically opens up pandora's box for anything to happen. Philadelphia did own the regular-season head-to-head, going 2-0 against the Giants while outscoring them 70-38. The ground game could be featured heavily by both of these offenses due to neither defense being particularly good at stopping the run. So, we could end up seeing a big day from stars like Saquon Barkley and Miles Sanders.
2. Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers
Date: Sunday, Jan. 22 | Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Location: Levi's Stadium (Santa Clara, California)
TV: Fox | Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
Odds: 49ers -4, O/U 46
When you have two all-time franchises going head to head with a trip to the NFC Championship Game on the line, it's a must-watch. This game should transport some fans to the '80s and '90s when these two teams had a heated rivalry as both sides dominated the NFL. They combined for seven Super Bowl titles over a 12-year stretch from 1984-95, and they met in three-straight NFC title games from 1992-94. Both Dallas and San Francisco rank inside the top five in all-time playoff wins and this will be the ninth playoff meeting between them. The most recent matchup came just last year when the Niners were able to go into AT&T Stadium and upset the Cowboys, sending them home early. Now, Dallas will have an opportunity to go into Levi's Stadium in the divisional round and return the favor.
The Cowboys looked like a legit Super Bowl contender in their blowout win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday. However, it's hard to tell whether or not they have truly flipped a switch or that they simply beat up a team that went 4-7 against non-division foes during the regular season. That said, if Dallas is starting to get hot, it's happening at exactly the right time and a win in Santa Clara would put the rest of the playoff pool on alert.
Meanwhile, this is a bit different Niners team than the one that upset the Cowboys and sent them home early a year ago. Rookie sensation Brock Purdy has helped lead San Francisco on a 11-game win streak, which includes a win over the Seahawks last weekend where he threw for 332 yards and had four total touchdowns.
Naturally, the quarterback duel between Purdy and Dak Prescott will be worth the price of admission, but don't sleep on these defenses either. Both Dallas and San Francisco feature two of the best defensive players in the NFL in Micah Parsons and Nick Bosa, who will both be looking to limit the damage those quarterbacks will be able to do.
This is the closest game on the slate in terms of the spread, so we could be in for a tightly contested NFC showdown.
1. Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills
Date: Sunday, Jan. 22 | Time: 3 p.m. ET
Location: Highmark Stadium (Orchard Park, New York)
TV: CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)
Odds: Bills -5.5, O/U 48.5
While the NFL is set to have a great weekend filled with awesome matchups, it's hard not to put Bengals-Bills at the top of this list. The Bills have been one of the main favorites to win the Super Bowl throughout the season, and Cincinnati is looking to get back to the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year.
Both of these teams have superstars under center with Joe Burrow and Josh Allen, and these quarterbacks are meeting at almost the same points in their careers. The 26-year-olds both have four playoff wins to their names and are looking to lift their franchises to their first-ever Super Bowl title. Naturally, each team has high-powered offenses that are averaging nearly 30 points per game throughout their winning streaks. Over their eight-game winning streak heading into Sunday, the Bills are averaging 29.9 points per game, 276 yards per game, and scored 21 total touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Bengals are averaging 28.4 points per game, 276.5 yards per game, and scored 22 total touchdowns over their nine-game winning streak. So, we could be in for a high-flying display of offense.
Meanwhile, there are also bigger narratives at play here beyond the game itself. This is the first matchup between these teams since their Week 17 game was canceled following the collapse of Damar Hamlin on the field, which should add another level of emotion to the game.
There's also the added wrinkle for this game that could result in a neutral-site AFC Championship Game. If K.C. defeats Jacksonville earlier in the weekend, it'll come down to the result of this game if the AFC title game will be determined in Atlanta. If the Bills defeat the Bengals, the AFC Championship Game between Buffalo and Kansas City would be at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. However, if Cincinnati goes into Buffalo and pulls off the upset, the Chiefs would host the conference title game at Arrowhead Stadium.