The NFL playoffs’ divisional spherical schedule for the 2023 season is stacked with nice matchups, and we have got you coated with what you might want to know heading into the weekend. Our NFL Nation reporters deliver us the most important keys to each recreation and a daring prediction for every matchup.
Moreover, ESPN Stats & Data gives a giant stat to know and a betting nugget for every contest, and our Football Power Index (FPI) goes contained in the numbers with a recreation projection. Analytics author Seth Walder picks out every matchup’s largest X issue, Matt Bowen identifies a key game-planning matchup to observe in each recreation, and Kevin Seifert tells us what to know concerning the officiating. Lastly, Walder and Eric Moody give us remaining rating picks for each recreation. Every part you need to know is right here in a single spot that will help you prepare for a loaded weekend of the NFL playoffs.
Let’s get into the complete divisional slate, together with a Patrick Mahomes–Josh Allen showdown, the Lions attempting to maintain their playoff run going and the surging Texans and Packers visiting the No. 1 seeds as huge underdogs.
What to observe for: One irritating postseason streak will come to an finish. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is 0-2 within the divisional spherical, throwing one landing move and three interceptions. However the Texans are 0-4 within the divisional spherical, dropping by a mean of 14.5 factors. — Jamison Hensley
Daring prediction: Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud will throw for over 300 yards, turning into the primary quarterback to realize that feat towards the Ravens since Tom Brady threw for 325 yards on Oct. 27, 2022. Stroud led the league in passing yards per recreation (273) and will have thrown for effectively over 300 within the wild-card recreation towards the Browns’ No. 1-ranked protection when he threw for 236 within the first half. — DJ Bien-Aime
Stat to know: The Ravens used play-action on the seventh-highest price within the common season (26%), and Jackson thrived with it, rating within the prime seven within the league in QBR, completion proportion and yards per try. Nonetheless, the Texans have been among the many worst defenses defending play-action — they ranked within the backside 5 in QBR, completion proportion and yards per try.
Matchup X issue: The Texans’ offensive line. All season the Ravens have used simulated strain to disrupt their opponent’s safety to nice success whereas nonetheless sustaining numbers in protection. The Ravens recorded 27 sacks with simulated strain, greater than some other workforce. Houston’s offensive line must be prepared if it’ll shield Stroud. — Walder
Sport-plan key: I would wish to see Houston offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik get Stroud outdoors of the pocket on some boot ideas to tug Baltimore defenders, with tight finish Dalton Schultz working because the beneath goal. That could possibly be key to the Texans getting right into a rhythm towards the actually good Ravens protection. Learn extra at ESPN+. — Bowen
Officiating notice: In a 12 months when NFL officers threw extra flags for intentional grounding (61) than in any season since not less than 2000, it needs to be famous that referee John Hussey’s regular-season crew was probably the most aggressive with seven such flags. And because it seems, Jackson took 5 such penalties, most within the NFL. Stroud took one. — Seifert
Betting nugget: The Ravens are 11-6 towards the unfold (ATS) this season (unders are 9-8). The Texans are 10-8 ATS, together with the playoffs (unders are 11-7).
Moody’s decide: Ravens 37, Texans 24
Walder’s decide: Ravens 27, Texans 20
FPI prediction: BAL, 81.7% (by a mean of 12.8 factors)
Matchup must-reads: How the Texans’ draft night time modified the franchise … Ravens add Cook dinner to roster, waive Gordon … Stroud ‘particular’ as Texans get wild-card revenge on Browns … Jackson enters playoffs, proving floor vs. Texans
Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET | Fox | Spread: SF -9.5 (50.5)
What to observe for: That is an NFL-record tenth playoff assembly between the Niners and the Packers, with San Francisco holding a 5-4 edge. What’s extra, the Niners have gained six straight NFC divisional-round playoff video games, the longest lively streak within the NFL. The winner will both take or share the title of winningest workforce in postseason historical past. The Packers are tied with the Patriots at 37 and will transfer into first place alone with a win, whereas a 49ers victory would tie them with Inexperienced Bay and New England. — Nick Wagoner
Daring prediction: Jayden Reed would be the Packers’ main receiver. How can a man who did not catch a single move the week earlier than pull that off? Properly, the Packers have not had the identical main receiver by way of yards in consecutive weeks since Romeo Doubs in Weeks 3 and 4. Doubs led the best way once more final week towards the Cowboys, so maybe the 49ers will roll their protection his means. Reed set the franchise file for catches by a rookie with 64. — Rob Demovsky
Stat to know: The 49ers have gained their previous 5 dwelling playoff video games, the longest lively streak within the NFL, with two of these wins coming towards the Packers (2012 divisional spherical and 2019 NFC Championship Sport). The 49ers have dominated these matchups, with 4 of 5 wins coming by 14-plus factors.
Matchup X issue: Packers quarterback Jordan Love. I picked him because the X issue final week, and what? He was the X issue. Since Week 10 and into the playoffs, Love leads the NFL in QBR (78.4) — and it is not even shut. Dak Prescott is second in that span at 73.7. That stage of quarterback play provides the Packers an opportunity towards anybody, the 49ers included. — Walder
Dan Orlovsky’s recommendation for Jordan Love towards the 49ers
Dan Orlovsky joins “The Pat McAfee Present” to share his ideas on how Jordan Love can beat the 49ers.
Sport-plan key: San Francisco receiver Deebo Samuel averaged 8.8 yards after the catch, main all WRs. Coach Kyle Shanahan will scheme open-field alternatives for him, which suggests the Packers will must be on their tackling A-game. Inexperienced Bay has to restrict Samuel’s numbers post-catch to tug the upset. Learn extra at ESPN+. — Bowen
Officiating notice: Referee Alex Kemp’s regular-season crew led the NFL with a mean of 15.3 flags per recreation. The Packers and 49ers each completed within the prime third of the NFL for many flags this season, the 49ers with 125 and the Packers with 124. — Seifert
Betting nugget: The Packers have gained 4 straight video games outright as underdogs, their longest underdog win streak since 2011-12.
Moody’s decide: 49ers 31, Packers 21
Walder’s decide: 49ers 30, Packers 23
FPI prediction: SF, 78.6% (by a mean of 11.2 factors)
Matchup must-reads: Submit-Rodgers, LaFleur thrives with Love … Shanahan, LaFleur’s lengthy NFL historical past … McCaffrey (calf) full participant in 49ers apply … Purdy makes use of inside motivation to take care of edge
Sunday, 3 p.m. ET | NBC | Spread: DET -6.5 (48.5)
What to observe for: Recent off successful their first playoff recreation in 32 years, the Lions will host their first NFC divisional spherical look because the 1991 playoffs. These groups will conflict for the second time this season after Detroit gained the regular-season matchup 20-6 at Tampa Bay. Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield and Lions quarterback Jared Goff have each revitalized their careers in new settings as former No. 1 total picks and can look to hold their respective groups with their sturdy play. — Eric Woodyard
Daring prediction: The Bucs will maintain the Lions underneath 20 factors … and win. Tampa Bay will as soon as once more be the underdog, Detroit’s going to be as hostile a setting because it will get and coach Todd Bowles hasn’t crushed Goff since 2019, when Goff was with the Rams and Bowles was the Bucs’ defensive coordinator. However the protection discovered its footing final week in one among Bowles’ best-called video games, and Mayfield’s bodily doing quite a bit higher with these rib and ankle accidents. — Jenna Laine
Stat to know: The Buccaneers’ protection has blitzed on 41% of dropbacks by opposing quarterbacks, the third-highest price within the NFL. They may look to dial that up much more towards Goff, who has seven turnovers when blitzed this season, tied for second most within the NFL.
Matchup X issue: Lions edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson. He’s on a three-game multisack streak and is coming off a 33% move rush win price recreation within the wild-card spherical (greater than double his regular-season price). The Lions’ move protection is their weak point, but when Hutchinson will get going, the Lions might draw back quick. — Walder
Sport-plan key: Will we see Lions receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and Buccaneers nook Carlton Davis III in one-on-one man protection matchups? St. Brown had 124 yards towards Tampa Bay in Week 6, so the Bucs want a plan right here — probably with Davis in protection and security assist spinning down late. Learn extra at ESPN+. — Bowen
Officiating notice: Referee Invoice Vinovich’s regular-season crew is normally one of many stingiest within the NFL. In 2023, nevertheless, it averaged 13.4 flags per recreation, tied for the seventh fewest within the NFL. When the Lions and Bucs met within the common season, the groups mixed for 10 flags — 5 apiece. — Seifert
Betting nugget: Each groups are 12-6 ATS, which is tied for the second-best mark behind the Raiders (12-5 ATS). Unders are 12-6 in Buccaneers video games, whereas overs are 11-7 in Lions video games.
Moody’s decide: Lions 28, Buccaneers 21
Walder’s decide: Lions 34, Buccaneers 17
FPI prediction: DET, 62.5% (by a mean of 4.5 factors)
Matchup must-reads: Mayfield responds to Lions DB’s barb … Goff leads Lions in revenge win over Rams … Mayfield leads underdog Bucs to shocking playoff win … Oral historical past of the Lions’ final playoff win
Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET | CBS | Spread: BUF -2.5 (45.5)
What to observe for: For the primary time on this rivalry between Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen, the Chiefs are coming to Orchard Park for the postseason. The quarterbacks have met six occasions, with the Payments successful three of the 4 regular-season conferences, and the Chiefs taking each postseason video games (2020 and 2021). The distinction for the Payments within the common and postseason matchups is the defensive success. Within the common season, the Payments have held the Chiefs to twenty.8 factors per recreation and produced 9 takeaways, however within the playoffs, Kansas Metropolis has averaged 40 factors and had just one turnover. There might be a giant take a look at forward for a Payments protection coping with quite a lot of accidents. — Alaina Getzenberg
Daring prediction: Mahomes and Allen will mix for not less than six TD passes. These two at all times placed on a present after they play, significantly within the postseason. Mahomes and Allen mixed for 5 scoring passes within the AFC Championship Sport after the 2020 season and 7 within the divisional spherical the subsequent season. The circumstances might be lower than perfect, however that hasn’t stopped them earlier than. — Adam Teicher
Stat to know: One space which may differentiate the Payments from the Chiefs could possibly be successful the turnover battle. The Payments pressured 30 turnovers this season, the second most within the NFL (the Ravens and Giants pressured 31 every). The Chiefs pressured 17 turnovers, the twenty seventh most within the NFL.
Why Stephen A. thinks Josh Allen will outduel Patrick Mahomes
Stephen A. Smith makes his case for Josh Allen and the Payments to prime Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs within the AFC divisional spherical.
Matchup X issue: The Payments’ cornerback well being. Taron Johnson (concussion), Rasul Douglas (knee) and Christian Benford (knee) are all banged up. Whereas Buffalo seems like the higher workforce on paper, a depleted secondary towards Mahomes looks like a harmful mixture. — Walder
Sport-plan key: Within the Week 14 matchup between these groups, Payments working again James Cook had 83 receiving yards. Search for the Payments to get Cook dinner concerned within the passing recreation once more with backfield releases and screens. And search for Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton to be key in limiting these performs. Learn extra at ESPN+. — Bowen
Officiating notice: Shawn Hochuli is without doubt one of the NFL’s extra lively referees. Throughout the common season, he threw an NFL-high 14 flags for roughing the passer, 5 greater than the next-closest referee. Since turning into a referee in 2018, he has led the league with 61 such flags. That would show fascinating, as Allen has grown adept at drawing roughing the passer fouls. He drew six in 2023, probably the most within the league. Mahomes drew just one. — Seifert
Betting nugget: Mahomes is 10-5 ATS in his playoff profession, together with 7-2 ATS when he isn’t not less than a seven-point favourite. Allen is 3-6 ATS in his playoff profession.
Moody’s decide: Payments 31, Chiefs 27
Walder’s decide: Chiefs 32, Payments 31
FPI prediction: BUF, 56.6% (by a mean of two.3 factors)
Matchup must-reads: How Mahomes has navigated the worst season of his profession … Allen’s TD sprint wows Payments in wild-card win vs. Steelers … Mahomes gears up for Allen once more, compares to Brady-Manning