With the opening round of the 2023 playoffs in the books, it's time to look ahead to the four games of the Divisional Round this upcoming Saturday and Sunday. But before we get into those matchups, let's see how my predictions fared in Wild Card Weekend.
I presented my bracket in last week's article where I broke down how I thought each round would play out, which you can read here if you're interested:
While I was perfect on the AFC side (thanks to Jacksonville's massive comeback win over the Chargers), I put too much faith in both the Vikings and Buccaneers on the NFC side. I just assumed Tom Brady would get his offense figured out when it mattered in the postseason, and while I knew Minnesota tends to choke in big moments, I couldn't get myself to pick against Justin Jefferson in round one.
To my credit, not that it really matters, but I did say that if any of the top three seeds were going to lose on either side, it would be the Vikings. And of course, that rang true. Props to the Giants for holding Justin Jefferson in check and for getting the job done on the road in Minnesota.
We're down to the final eight teams now, and while I only had six of the current eight teams in my predicted bracket, all four of my conference championship teams remain alive. (Not that I really went out on a huge limb considering I picked the top two seeds in each division...) As for those four squads, I'm excited to see how Kansas City and Philadelphia look after their first round byes. Buffalo must play better going forward if they're going to compete or win a Super Bowl, and San Francisco feels like the best all-around team in the league at this moment.
With that said, I'm staying strong with the initial winners I picked for the Divisional Round's games. The Chiefs and Eagles are both favored by more than a touchdown in their respective games, though I think both will probably be closer than the sportsbooks are projecting.
While the Cowboys-Niners game has the closest spread (SF -3.5), the game I'm most excited to watch is the rematch of the Bengals and Bills, who didn't even get through the first quarter in their eventful and unprecedented Week 17 matchup. Like I said earlier, I'm hoping the Bills received their wake up call by barely eking out a win at home against a thin Dolphins team. Josh Allen needs to take better care of the football or Cincinnati will be able to pull off the upset.
Still, I'm going with all four favorites to win outright this weekend. If that occurs, I will have picked my final four correctly at the beginning of the season. However, the money line is not all we'll care about on Saturday and Sunday.
Whether your team is still in contention or not, we can all make some cash while we enjoy the games this weekend. For that, tune in to my betting article on Friday in the "Betting" tab of this site to see my favorite plays of the week.
Good luck to everyone with rooting interest this weekend and I'll be back on Monday to discuss the results of all four Divisional Round contests.
Written by Nick Swatson
Expert Nick Swatson discusses all the news, predictions, and outcomes surrounding the NFL.