NFL Game Previews: Sunday Divisional Matchups

NFL Game Previews: Sunday Divisional Matchups

This article is part of our NFL Game Previews series.

L.A. Rams (+3) at Tampa Bay, o/u 47.5 – Sunday, 3 p.m. EST

Both Sunday games feature rematches of regular-season contests, and in both cases the road playoff team was the winner. The Rams downed the Bucs 34-24 way back in Week 3, and both receiving corps have undergone some major renovations since. Los Angeles lost Robert Woods and added Odell Beckham, while Tampa Bay saw Chris Godwin go down and lived through the entire cycle of Antonio Brown's latest comeback in between the two games. Given how stout both defenses are on the ground, this one should be decided by the quarterbacks. Matthew Stafford stumbled down the stretch but has still tossed multiple TDs in seven of his last eight games, including the wild-card win over the Cards, and his 11.9 YPA versus Arizona was his best mark since Week 1. Tom Brady also has a bit of a swoon in December but has already pulled out of it, posting a 9:1 TD:INT, 71.4 percent completion rate and 8.0 YPA in his last four games — all Tampa wins — including that dismantling of the Eagles in the wild-card round. Tyler Johnson and Scotty Miller may not be Godwin and AB talent-wise, but between them and the Bucs' depth at tight end, Brady's still got plenty of options behind Mike Evans.

The Skinny

LAR injuries: RB Darrell Henderson (IR-R, knee), LT Andrew Whitworth (out, ankle/knee), S Taylor Rapp (out, concussion)

TB injuries: RB Leonard Fournette (IR-R,

L.A. Rams (+3) at Tampa Bay, o/u 47.5 – Sunday, 3 p.m. EST

Both Sunday games feature rematches of regular-season contests, and in both cases the road playoff team was the winner. The Rams downed the Bucs 34-24 way back in Week 3, and both receiving corps have undergone some major renovations since. Los Angeles lost Robert Woods and added Odell Beckham, while Tampa Bay saw Chris Godwin go down and lived through the entire cycle of Antonio Brown's latest comeback in between the two games. Given how stout both defenses are on the ground, this one should be decided by the quarterbacks. Matthew Stafford stumbled down the stretch but has still tossed multiple TDs in seven of his last eight games, including the wild-card win over the Cards, and his 11.9 YPA versus Arizona was his best mark since Week 1. Tom Brady also has a bit of a swoon in December but has already pulled out of it, posting a 9:1 TD:INT, 71.4 percent completion rate and 8.0 YPA in his last four games — all Tampa wins — including that dismantling of the Eagles in the wild-card round. Tyler Johnson and Scotty Miller may not be Godwin and AB talent-wise, but between them and the Bucs' depth at tight end, Brady's still got plenty of options behind Mike Evans.

The Skinny

LAR injuries: RB Darrell Henderson (IR-R, knee), LT Andrew Whitworth (out, ankle/knee), S Taylor Rapp (out, concussion)

TB injuries: RB Leonard Fournette (IR-R, hamstring), RB Ronald Jones (out, ankle), WR Cyril Grayson (questionable, hamstring), WR Breshad Perriman (out, hip), C Ryan Jensen (questionable, ankle), RT Tristan Wirfs (questionable, ankle), OLB Jason Pierre-Paul (questionable, personal), CB Sean Murphy-Bunting (questionable, hamstring)

LAR DFS targets: none

TB DFS targets: none

LAR DFS fades: Stafford $6,200 DK / $7,400 FD (TB second in YPA allowed, seventh in TD% allowed), Sony Michel $5,300 DK / $5,300 FD and Cam Akers $5,500 DK / $5,700 FD (TB third in rushing yards per game allowed, fifth in rushing TDs allowed)

TB DFS fades: Fournette $5,700 DK / $7,000 FD and Ke'Shawn Vaughn $4,700 DK / $5,300 FD (LAR fifth in rushing DVOA, fifth in YPC allowed), Rob Gronkowski $5,800 DK / $7,100 FD (LAR fourth in DVOA vs. TE) 

Key stat: TB is second in third-down conversions at 47.1 percent; LAR are 21st in third-down defense at 41.3 percent

Weather forecast: clear, temperature in the high 50s, 10-12 mph wind, zero percent chance of rain

The Scoop: Cam Akers leads the LAR backfield with 60 combined yards. Stafford throws for 250 yards and two scores, hitting Cooper Kupp and Van Jefferson, while Aaron Donald forces a fumble that Von Miller scoops up and returns to the house. Vaughn leads the TB backfield with 80 scrimmage yards. Brady throws for 280 yards and two TDs, finding Miller and Evans for the game-winning score in the fourth quarter. Buccaneers 23-21

Buffalo (+1.5) at Kansas City, o/u 53.5 – Sunday, 6:30 p.m. EST

The Bills came out on top in the first meeting between these clubs, a 38-20 thumping in Week 5 before Kansas City had really gotten rolling. That game looked a lot like every other big Buffalo win, though, as Josh Allen accounted for four TDs and the defense forced four turnovers. The fact that the Bills just had one of those games in the wild-card round against their nemesis the Patriots, a team that statistically had one of the best defenses in the NFL this season, can't be overlooked, but you can spin that any way you want really — either they're full of confidence after vanquishing their most hated rival, or they're headed for a big emotional letdown after vanquishing their most hated rival. Pick your poison. They have won five consecutive games, though, so if you're running with the confidence angle, it started long before last weekend. Kansas City looked like the team that won the Super Bowl two years ago last week, but it was against a Steelers team that backed into the playoffs because someone else lost. Patrick Mahomes and the offense have averaged 36.5 points in the last six games though, scoring at least 28 points each time out, and the QB has a 17:2 TD:INT, 71.7 percent completion rate and 8.5 YPA over that stretch. With an early season loss to avenge, Andy Reid's team should come out firing, but if any defense can slow them, you'd figure it would be Buffalo.

The Skinny

BUF injuries: none

KC injuries: RB Darrel Williams (questionable, toe), RT Lucas Niang (IR, knee)

BUF DFS targets: Allen $7,600 DK / $8,800 FD (KC 27th in passing yards per game allowed, 27th in rushing yards allowed to QB, 32nd in rushing TD allowed to QB), Devin Singletary $5,900 DK / $7,200 FD (KC 31st in YPC allowed, 26th in passing DVOA vs. RB)

KC DFS targets: none

BUF DFS fades: Cole Beasley $4,000 DK / $5,200 FD (KC second in DVOA vs. WR3)

KC DFS fades: Patrick Mahomes $7,300 DK / $8,500 FD (BUF first in passing DVOA, first in passing yards per game allowed, first in YPA allowed, first in TD% allowed), Byron Pringle $4,200 DK / $5,700 FD (BUF first in DVOA vs. WR2), Mecole Hardman $3,900 DK / $5,300 FD (BUF first in DVOA vs. WR3)

Key stat: BUF is third in third-down conversions at 46.4 percent; KC is 18th in third-down defense at 40.2 percent

Weather forecast: clear, temperature in the mid-30s, less than 10 mph wind, zero percent chance of snow

The Scoop: Singletary racks up 90 combined yards and a receiving touchdown. Allen throws for 270 yards and runs for 50 more, hitting Stefon Diggs and Dawson Knox for two more TDs. Clyde Edwards-Helaire leads the KC backfield with 70 scrimmage yards, while Jerick McKinnon adds 50. Mahomes throws for 260 yards and two scores, finding Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, but he gets picked off attempting to tie the game on his final possession. Bills 24-17

Cincinnati (+3.5) at Tennessee, o/u 47.5 – Saturday, 4:30 p.m. EST

All eyes will be on the Tennessee backfield for this one, as the Titans might get Derrick Henry back for the first time since Halloween. D'Onta Foreman's been a solid replacement, but the team averaged a full touchdown more per game with Henry in the lineup (28.4 points per game versus 21.3). Making matters worse for the Bengals, if they have to deal with a healthy Henry, they'll have to do it without interior line stalwart Larry Ogunjobi, who got hurt in last week's wild-card win. Of course, Cincinnati's defense isn't what's gotten it this far. Joe Burrow has a 74.9 percent completion rate, 9.8 YPA and 13:0 TD:INT in his last five games, even if one of those touchdowns carries an asterisk, with Ja'Marr Chase on the other end of a large chunk of that production (27-507-3 on 34 targets in the last three games together, including last weekend's victory over the Raiders). The Titans were fairly average when it came to containing the other team's top wideout this season, and while riding their ground game will help keep Burrow and company off the field, Cincy can strike quickly when it does get the ball. This game is easy to cast as a referendum on old-school smashmouth football versus that namby-pamby analytics-driven aerial stuff, but it's 2022, not 1992, and the Bengals have Joe Mixon while the Titans have A.J. Brown and Julio Jones. Let's not pretend the teams that make pushes for the Super Bowl don't have to do everything at least moderately well.

The Skinny

CIN injuries: DT Ogunjobi (IR, foot)

TEN injuries: RB Henry (IR-R, foot)

CIN DFS targets: Tyler Boyd $4,800 DK / $5,800 FD (TEN 29th in DVOA vs. WR3)

TEN DFS targets: Jones $4,700 DK / $5,600 FD (CIN 27th in DVOA vs. WR2), Geoff Swaim $2,800 DK / $4,600 FD and Anthony Firkser $3,100 DK / $5,200 FD (CIN 24th in DVOA vs. TE)

CIN DFS fades: Joe Mixon $6,600 DK / $7,800 FD (TEN second in rushing yards per game allowed, fourth in YPC allowed), C.J. Uzomah $3,400 DK / $5,500 FD (TEN third in DVOA vs. TE)

TEN DFS fades: none

Key stat: CIN is seventh in yards per play at 5.87; TEN is 17th in yards per play allowed at 5.40

Weather forecast: clear, temperature in the mid-30s, less than 10 mph wind, zero percent chance of snow

The Scoop: Mixon manages 70 combined yards. Burrow throws for 290 yards and two TDs, hitting Boyd and Chase. Henry makes his return and rumbles for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan Tannehill throws for 240 yards and a score to Firkser but gets picked off twice. Bengals 26-24

San Francisco (+5) at Green Bay, o/u 47.0
Saturday, 8:15 p.m. EST

The 49ers were able to play their game and stop the Cowboys from playing theirs last week in Dallas, but the reward is a trip to Lambeau to face a rested Aaron Rodgers. Huzzah? San Francisco almost paid a high price to advance too, as Nick Bosa suffered a concussion, and if he can't chase after Rodgers the Niners' chances of an upset get even lower. Their running game is rocking behind Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel, though, even as Jimmy Garoppolo keeps collecting injuries like they're Pokemon, and if they can't put pressure on Rodgers, maybe they can keep him on the sidelines as much as possible. They'd better — the future Hall of Famer (and future 2021 MVP?) hasn't been picked off since mid-November, posting a 72.0 percent completion rate, 8.2 YPA and 20:0 TD:INT in his last seven games. I mean, that's not on Joe Burrow's level, but it's still pretty good. The Packers are also more banged up overall, but Rodgers has some extra incentive in this one. He's 0-3 in playoff games against the Niners, losing in 2013, 2014 and 2020, and that after Brett Favre went 4-1 in postseason games against them. Rodgers seems like the kind of guy who is keenly aware of those facts, and will then blow them off as nothing in the post-game press conference.

The Skinny

SF injuries: DE Bosa (questionable, concussion)

GB injuries: WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (doubtful, back), LT David Bakhtiari (questionable, knee), OLB Za'Darius Smith (IR-R, back), CB Jaire Alexander (questionable, shoulder)

SF DFS targets: Mitchell $5,800 DK / $7,300 FD (GB 28th in rushing DVOA, 30th in YPC allowed), George Kittle $5,300 DK / $6,400 FD (GB 28th in DVOA vs. TE)

GB DFS targets: Davante Adams $8,500 DK / $8,700 FD (SF 31st in DVOA vs. WR1)

SF DFS fades: Jauan Jennings $3,400 DK / $5,000 FD (GB third in DVOA vs. WR3)

GB DFS fades: Aaron Jones $6,800 DK / $7,500 FD and AJ Dillon $5,100 DK / $6,100 FD (SF second in rushing DVOA, sixth in YPC allowed, fourth in passing DVOA vs. RB), Josiah Deguara $3,000 DK / $4,900 FD (SF fifth in DVOA vs. TE)

Key stat: GB is t-8th in third-down conversions at 43.6 percent; SF is 17th in third-down defense at 40.0 percent

Weather forecast: cloudy, temperature in the high single digits, 10-11 mph wind, zero percent chance of snow/rain

The Scoop: Mitchell dashes for 100 scrimmage yards and a score, while Samuel adds 90 combined yards and a rushing TD as well. Garoppolo throws for less than 200 yards and gets picked off twice, one of which Eric Stokes returns to the house. Jones leads the GB backfield with 70 yards. Rodgers throws for 280 yards and three touchdowns, hitting Adams (who tops 100 yards) twice and Randall Cobb once. Packers 31-20


Postseason record: 5-1, 4-2 ATS, 2-3-1 o/u
2021 regular-season record: 174-97-1, 146-125-1 ATS, 125-143-4 o/u
2020 regular-season record: 164-91-1, 129-119-8 ATS, 117-133-6 o/u
Lifetime record: 1288-769-7, 1005-992-67 ATS, 735-787-30 o/u (o/u not tracked in 2015)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erik Siegrist
Erik Siegrist is an FSWA award-winning columnist who covers all four major North American sports (that means the NHL, not NASCAR) and whose beat extends back to the days when the Nationals were the Expos and the Thunder were the Sonics. He was the inaugural champion of Rotowire's Staff Keeper baseball league. His work has also appeared at Baseball Prospectus.
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