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NFL Saturday Divisional Games

All times Eastern

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Wild Card results: Rick: 2-4; Coin: 6-0
Cumulative: Rick: 120-134-7; Coin: 128-126-7


Saturday, January 15

4:35 pm Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers (-6 1/2, 45 1/2) - The Rams are a very banged up bunch and it's still unclear which quarterback is going to start (and finish) this game. John Wolford started in the 30-20 win over the Seahawks, but was knocked out early on a should to head hit, resulting in hospitalization for what appeared to be a stinger. Jared Goff soldiered through with very sore thumb on his throwing hand that was operated on just 12 days prior.

Goff finished 9 of 19, throwing for 155 yards and a TD with no interceptions and Cam Akers was able to grind out 131 yards on 28 carries. The Rans defense - the league's best - also accounted for a score when Darious Williams picked off Seattle's Russell Wilson for a 42-yard pick-six, putting the Rams ahead, 13-3 in the second quarter.

LA's defenders made sure that Seattle never recovered from that defensive score. The Seahawks cut the lead to 13-10, but the Rams outscored them 17-3 from late in the second quarter to nearly the end of the game. Seattle's final score came with 2:28 remaining.

All-world defensive end, Aaron Donald, missed parts of the game with sore ribs, but is expected to be fit for the divisional contest. Receiver Cooper Kupp left the game in the fourth quarter. He is suffering from bursitis in a knee, but also is expected to start.

As far as the QB situation is concerned, it looks like Goff will go, but Wolford will be ready. Despite not the best passing stats, Goff showed determination and poise playing through his injury and should be confident at QB.

On the Green Bay side, the Packers took last week off, qualifying for a bye with the best record in the conference and they will be home for as long as they remain in the playoffs. Naturally, Aaron Rodgers is the key to Packer success. He's had an outstanding season and is odds-on choice for league MVP, but he's going to have to be exceptional against the Rams because the Packer defense is only ordinary and will allow LA to stay close if not establish a lead.

If Green Bay can get on the board early, Rodgers will have more options with which to work Jalen Ramsey is likely to cover Rodgers' favorite target, Davonte Adams, a match-up that could go either way. Green Bay may have to lean on RB Aaron Jones a little more than usual, just to keep the Rams from getting comfortable against the passing offense. Rodgers is also a very capable scrambler, and he's sure to be harassed by Donald and Leonard Floyd throughout.

Weather could be a factor. Its certain to be cold, and snow could throw off the Rams' attack significantly. This being the playoffs, however, both teams will find ways to adjust if conditions are severe.

From a trends perspective, underdogs covered or won outright in four of last week's six contests and it could be that the line-makers are not discounting enough the lack of fans. Some will be in attendance at Lambeau, but not enough to make a difference.

The Rams have a solid enough defense to keep Rodgers and Adams at least partially contained, and have the ability to score enough against any opponent to keep this one close. Upset potential is apparent as the Rams went 10-6 during the regular season, losing three games by three points (49ers, Jets, and at Buffalo). No team beat them by more than 11 (Miami, Seattle) and they've already proven capable of payback with the win at Seattle.

Coin Flip: Los Angeles

Prediction: Rams 27 Packers 24



8:15 pm Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills (-2, 50) - Buffalo will face its biggest test of the season against the fired-up Ravens, who won their sixth straight game, knocking off the Titans in Nashville, 20-13, last weekend. Buffalo has won seven straight and finished the regular season 10-1 down the stretch.

The Bills, behind another super effort from quarterback Josh Allen (26-35, 324, 2 TDs), seemed in control with a 24-10 lead over the Colts, but allowed two fourth quarter touchdowns as Indy kept it close. Tyler Bass' 54-yard field goal, which put the Bills ahead, 27-16, was key to the 27-24 victory in the Wild Card round.

This is likely to be a fairly high-scoring affair, despite Baltimore's solidifying defense. In their win over the Titans, the Ravens surrendered only 51 yards rushing and 158 passing, shutting down the league's most prolific runner, Derrick Henry, who carried 18 times for just 40 yards. Baltimore's stout defensive effort also included a Malcolm Butler interception late in the game that helped cement the victory.

Baltimore QB, Lamar Jackson was efficient passing, through for 179 yards 17 of 24 attempts with one interception, but he was exceptional as a runner, rolling up 136 yards on 16 carries, one a 48-yard scamper to the end zone.

As the line indicates, this game may come down to a very tight situation in the fourth quarter and it is there that the Ravens have a slight edge. Justin Tucker, even though he was 2-for-3 in the Tennessee win, is nearly automatic from 50 yards in. Buffalo's Bass has a strong leg and understands the swirling wind conditions at Rich Stadium, but he is a rookie and nerves may get the better of him.

There are advantages to both styles of play, with the Bills being more of a ball control and field condition style to the Ravens wide open big-play potential. Baltimore's defense is also better than Buffalo's, but Josh Allen's running ability may neutralize that edge. Overall, this one is too close to call, but the Bills may find a way to pull it out late. They lost just once at home during the regular season, and that was to Kansas City, 26-17.

Coin Flip: Buffalo

Prediction: Bills 31 Ravens 27


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