Look for one upset in the NFL this week

Brentton Wharton, staff writer

Six gone, eight remain.

After a great weekend of NFL playoff football the hits are just gonna keep on coming, up next divisional round. We got four great matchups bound to be full of action and surprises, and I’m gonna break every one of them down.

Starting with the NFC, we have the #1 seed Green Bay Packers hosting the Los Angeles Rams. Ready and rested Aaron Rodgers looks to lead his team to their second straight NFC Championship game, but the Rams might have a little bit to say about that.

After their dominant victory over the Seahawks in the wild card round, they look to rack up the momentum by beating Green Bay. This game is a little tricky because LA looked really good last week, but all season Green Bay has been the standard bearers.

The key to win for this game for LA is the run game. They must get off to a hot start against the Packers’ defense that struggled containing running backs at times allowing 112.8 rushing yards per game during the season. For the Packers, they have to be efficient in the air attack. The Rams have one of the best secondaries in the NFL led by All-Pro Cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

This is a matchup between the #1 scoring offense in the NFL of the Packers, against the #1 scoring defense of the Rams. The Packers strength all year has been scoring a lot of points, and the Rams strength has been not giving up any. Something has to give. I like the way the Rams looked last week, but I don’t know if I can bet against Green Bay. I’m taking Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in this one 28-24.

The other NFC matchup is a game we’re seeing for the third time this season, the New Orleans Saints against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. New Orleans won both previous games, but this is the playoffs, and all games before now are meaningless.

Drew Brees versus Tom Brady, two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, will play their first and possibly last playoff game against each other. Both of these teams played pretty lackluster teams last week, but only one of them looked good. The Saints rolled over the Bears while the Buccaneers struggled with Washington. This one I expect to be high scoring and go down to the wire, with Tom Brady leading his Bucs on a game winning drive to send Tampa Bay to its first NFC Championship game appearance since 2002. I like the Buccaneer to upset the Saints 35-29.

Now moving to the AFC side we will see the Buffalo Bills host the Baltimore Ravens. This is a very interesting game, and many people are thinking the Bills will dominate or run over the Ravens, but it’s a lot deeper than that.

There are many factors that can change how this game will play out, one major one being the weather. In January in New York it could snow literally any time. If it snows Saturday night, I think the Ravens are in trouble.

The elements add an entirely new dynamic to the game, and for a team like Baltimore who is very inexperienced in bad weather, snow could spell bad news for the Ravens. Assuming it’s clear dark skies for that night though, I’ll say I still lean towards the Bills. The Ravens look good after beating the Titans, but my biggest concern for them is scoring, they only scored 20 points on a defense that’s in the bottom half of the NFL in nearly every defensive category.

Twenty points against Josh Allen and the Bills, isn’t enough. What Buffalo needs to do is go for the kill early, play good defense and defend Baltimore’s run game and force the Ravens to pass! Baltimore has been able to run their way to victories and manage to throw less than 200 passing yards and squeeze away victories, Buffalo has to take this option away, and their offense will help with this too. Buffalo averaged 31 points per game this season, so if they continue to bring the high powered attack in this game they should have success. I like Buffalo winning and advancing the AFC Championship in a close one, 31-23.

Last but not least the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs welcome in the Cleveland Browns to play for a spot in the AFC Championship.

As a Chiefs’ fan I’d love to tell you the Browns have no chance in this game, but realistically and unbiasedly they do. The Browns’ strength all year was running the football, and the Chiefs weakness for years has been the run defense. Time management, keep Patrick Mahome off the field, is the approach lots of teams take. The Browns can’t outshoot the Chiefs that will never happen, but if they steal a possession, win the time of possession and score in the red zone they have a real shot at winning this game.

For Kansas City, contain Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. That should be number one focus in any defensive meeting this week. Probably the best running back duo in the NFL they will win games by themselves if you let them. The Chiefs must get pressure in Baker Mayfield’s face and not let him sit in the pocket and watch plays develop. Forcing him into bad throws is paramount as he makes a lot of poor decisions under pressure.

The Chiefs can’t leave any points on the board, they must execute in the red zone and cash in on good field position. If Kansas City scores 30 plus points and doesn’t allow Cleveland to run the ball and make it low scoring, they will win. If this game comes down to the two quarterbacks having to make big time plays I think it’s as simple as saying, “The team with Patrick Mahomes will win.”

If this becomes a match of the QBs, I don’t think Baker Mayfield is the guy to out duel Patrick Mahomes. With all that said, I think the Chiefs win this game 35-24, and make a trip to their third consecutive AFC Championship game.

Score Prediction:

Packers 28, Rams 24

Buccaneers 35, Saints 29

Bills 31, Ravens 23

Chiefs 35, Browns 24