After a wild (pun intended) 2020 NFL Wildcard Weekend, the 2020 NFL Divisional Playoffs are upon us. With the Vikings upsetting the Saints and the Titans upsetting the Patriots, the whole landscape of the 2020 NFL Divisional Playoffs changes. The opening betting odds favor the home teams in all instances, but football games do not play out on paper. So, we will dig into each matchup and break it down. Who has the best chance to win?
Vikings at 49ers – Saturday 4:35 PM EST (NBC)
The first matchup of the 2020 NFL Divisional Playoffs has the Vikings facing off against the 49ers. As of now, San Francisco is a 6 ½ point favorite at home. First, though, let us discuss the Vikings. One of the stars of Minnesota’s win over the Saints was Adam Thielen. As of Friday night, Minnesota lists Thielen as questionable on the injury report. While the Vikings expect Thielen to play, his health against a stout San Francisco defense will be something to watch.
Also, Kirk Cousins will be a big question going into this game. Cousins’ health is not in question, but I think it’s safe to be skeptical of Kirk’s track record. Cousins finally broke through his glass ceiling and picked up a marquee win. However, can we expect him to continue that? That is the big question. If Cousins does not have a similar game Saturday, the Vikings are in trouble.
For the 49ers, what they need to do to win is simple. With Jimmy G in his first career playoff start, San Francisco will have to lean on is ground game to win. In the regular season, San Francisco ranked 2nd in the NFL with 144.1 yards per game. Garoppolo has a bright future in this league, but the more the 49ers can do to limit his involvement, the better off they will be. In the end, this will be a closer game than expected. The Vikings will cover the spread, but the 49ers will pick up the win.
Titans at Ravens – Saturday 8:15 PM EST (CBS)
The second matchup of the 2020 NFL Divisional Playoffs features the Tennessee Titans at the Baltimore Ravens. As the opening odds indicate, this is the most lopsided matchup of the weekend. The Ravens open as 10 point favorites over the Titans. What you see with Baltimore is what you get. I don’t mean that negatively. The Ravens have the NFL’s best rushing attack at 206 yards per game. Also, Baltimore has the fourth-best total defense in the NFL. They only allow 300.6 yards per game. This game is more about what the Titans need to do to win.
Tennessee, hands down, had the best rushing attack of the Wild Card Weekend. With 201 rushing yards, Derrick Henry was the MVP of the Titans. Still, Tennessee will need more from Ryan Tannehill. Last weekend, Tannehill was 8-15 for 72 yards with a touchdown and interception. In the 2020 NFL Divisional Playoffs, that will not fly. Since the Titans will likely be playing from behind, Ryan will need to air it out if they have a chance to win. The Ravens, though, will easily cover the spread and win this game.
Texans at Chiefs – Sunday 3:05 PM EST (CBS)
If the regular-season matchup between these two teams is any indication, the first matchup on Sunday of the 2020 NFL Divisional Playoffs is likely to be the best. The Texans came out on top in that game over the Chiefs, 31-24. The Chiefs open at eight-point favorites in this matchup, but I don’t think it will be that easy. Let us discuss this.
Houston fell behind the Dolphins 16-0 in the Wild Card Round before they came alive. That will not do against the Chiefs. The key to their success is the running game. While the Texans did rush for 141 yards, that was mainly due to some superhero play by Deshaun Watson. Duke Johnson rushed for 38 yards on three carries. If Carlos Hyde is not getting it done, Houston will need to lean on Johnson. If neither is successful, then it’s game over for the Texans. They have to limit the time that Chiefs offense sees the field.
For the Chiefs, a 2020 NFL Divisional Playoffs win will fall on their defense. We know what the Kansas City offense can do. If you like speed, you are in for a treat. The Chiefs might be the fastest team in the league. Between Hill, Williams, Watkins, and Hardman, Kansas City literally might run the top off the building. That will not get KC the win, though. The Chiefs defense will need a timely stop to win this game. I think the Chiefs get the appropriate stop to win the game, but the Texans cover the spread.
Seahawks at Packers – Sunday 6:40 PM EST (FOX)
The final matchup of the 2020 NFL Divisional Playoffs features the battle of the Super Bowl-winning MVPs – Russell Wilson vs. Aaron Rodgers. While Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes may be the future of the league, Wilson and Rodgers are the right now. This matchup has the smallest spread of the weekend and rightfully so. At Lambeau, the Packers are four-point favorites. No doubt, this will be the most competitive game of the weekend.
For Seattle, the biggest worry going into the game is the health of Mike Iupati. The Seahawks list the Guard as doubtful, which means he is not likely to play. The backbone of Green Bay this season has been its defense. With Iupati out, all eyes will be on Russell Wilson. Wilson will need to dig deep to pull off a victory in a stadium where he’s yet to win in the playoffs. Will it be fourth times the charm for Wilson in Lambeau? We shall see.
For Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers will need to return to being that bad man we all know he can be. While the Packers defense has been great, Rodgers needs one of his signature games Sunday. If last week was any indication, the Seahawks defense will be ready to bring the heat. Seattle will cover the spread…by winning this game. It will be a low scoring game, and there is no reason the Seahawks should win, but they will win.
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