The best weekend in the NFL playoffs is upon us as eight teams battle in the divisional round for the right to go to the conference championship games. Fans will be at both games today adding to the atmosphere and there could be snow in Green Bay and Buffalo. These are the elite eight teams and the play will be elevated.
On to the divisional round ...
Los Angeles at Green Bay
Time: 4:35 p.m. (Fox)
Records: Rams 10-6; Packers 13-3
The skinny: Los Angeles showed its gutsy side with its win in Seattle with two hurt quarterbacks and a dominating defense. As a reward, they get to play in freezing Lambeau Field in front of about 6,000 fans and with a starting quarterback with two pins in his throwing thumb. Jared Goff will lead the Rams, but he will probably rely on rookie running back Cam Akers (625 yards, 2 TDs). The defense is hurting as lineman Aaron Donald has a rib injury suffered last week and will be at less than full health. That's great news for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (4,299 yards, 48 TDs, 5 INTs), who is headed toward his third MVP award, and has Aaron Jones (1,104 yards, 9 TDs) and receiver Davante Adams (115 catches, 1,374 yards, 18 TDs) raring to go to a second straight NFC championship game.
Prediction: Packers 24-17
Baltimore at Buffalo
Time: 8:15 p.m. (NBC)
Records: Ravens 12-5; Bills 13-3
The skinny: This game is simple. Run the ball and stop the run. The fifth-seeded Ravens have won six straight, with quarterback Lamar Jackson leading the way with a combined 988 yards passing and 11 touchdowns and 566 yards rushing and five TDs. The Buffalo defense finished 17th against the run and has given up 150 yards rushing five times this season. The Bills, who have won seven straight, don't have much of a running game, but their passing attack can score quickly, headed by quarterback Josh Allen (4,544 yards, 37 TDs, 10 INTs) and receiver Stefon Diggs (127 catches, 1,535 yards, 8 TDs). The Bills need to make the Ravens one-dimensional on offense while the the Ravens have to stop one of the league's best one-dimensional attacks.
Prediction: Ravens 27-23
Last week: 4-2
– Mark Jaworski, The Journal Gazette