Green Bay Packer
Green Bay Packers' Rasul Douglas celebrates his interception with teammates during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 24-22. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

HOW TO WATCH THE NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

Mike Shara

And then there were eight.

After an overstuffed schedule that saw 6 playoff games in a weekend for the first time in history, some reseeding after a couple of moderate upsets and a few days to get the hype train rolling again, the NFL playoffs resume Saturday. This weekend has ‘only’ four playoff games (but that number just sounds right, doesn’t it?) that will determine which four teams (there it is again) will get to play in their conference’s championship games.

On Saturday, things get started with the upstart Cincinnati Bengals, who haven’t played in (much less won) a Conference Championship game since early 1989 traveling to Nashville to take on the Titans, who may be the quietest #1 seed in NFL playoff history. The overriding factor in this game is the reemergence of Tennessee running back Derrick Henry, who began the season looking like the NFL’s Most Valuable Player but has not played a game in over two months due to a foot injury. Despite King Henry’s absence, the Titans have still managed to win 4 of their last 5 games and 4 of their last 5 ATS, while Cincinnati have proven themselves a good road team, winning 5 of 7 games ATS away from home this year.

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Saturday’s night game features the 49ers at Lambeau Field in a playoff matchup that has not been good to Aaron Rodgers’ postseason legacy. San Fran has defeated Green Bay in each of their last three postseason matchups, all of which were started by A-Rod. Despite Jimmy Garappolo nearly pissing away what looked to be a comfortable road win in Dallas on Sunday, San Francisco will still present some troublesome matchup problems for the top-seeded Packers this weekend. San Francisco will hope defensive studs Nick Bosa and Fred Warner can return from injuries sustained in the Dallas game, while Green Bay should be healthy and well-rested. The weather forecast appears to be relatively mild for Wisconsin in January, with no precipitation anticipated.

On Sunday the Rams will take their hugely talented, deeply frustrating team to Tampa Bay to attempt to kill off the specter of playoff legend Tom Brady. Player for player the Rams may have a more talented team than the Bucs, with huge stars on both sides of the ball, but Tampa has looked every bit a defending champion this year – playing a very steady, team-focused season and rarely beating themselves. The Buccaneers are missing some key offensive weapons, but so far that hasn’t seemed to hurt them – they’ve won four straight and scored at least 28 points in each of those games. Both teams were 8-8 ATS this season, with Tampa winning 5 of 7 ATS as a home favorite.

The last of the four games sees the Chiefs, who finished the season incredibly and have won 11 of their last 12, welcoming Buffalo to Arrowhead Stadium. Despite the roll Kansas City has been on the last three months, the Bills’ dominant win last week vs. New England remains hard to ignore. Josh Allen looked every bit like the best young quarterback in the league and Buffalo’s defense is the NFL’s top-rated unit. The relatively small point spread (this game has the smallest spread number across the board) reflects the lack of confidence in K.C. as the home favorite this weekend, especially since the Chiefs have covered in just one of their last 5 and were under .500 at home ATS.

Game times listed below are all EST.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 22

HOMEAWAYTIMENETWORK
CincinnatiTennessee (-3.5 on BetMGM)2:30 pmCBS
San FranciscoGreen Bay (-5.5 on FanDuel)6:15 pmFOX

SUNDAY, JANUARY 23

HOMEAWAYTIMENETWORK
L.A. RamsTampa Bay (-3 on DraftKings)1 pmNBC
BuffaloKansas City (-1.5 on PointsBet)4:30 pmCBS

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