Connect with us


AFC Divisional Round Preview

Two more great AFC games to look forward to this weekend!

With four of the best quarterbacks in the league still playing in the AFC Divisional Round, some great football could be headed our way this weekend. C.J. Stroud and the upstart Texans will head into Baltimore, where all the pressure lies on Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. Then, it’ll be another battle between Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. Can Allen finally get the best of Mahomes in the postseason? We can’t wait to find out. 

Saturday Game – Houston at Baltimore

The Texans

For most of the season, it looked like the Houston Texans would be happy to get into the playoffs with a wild card spot. Even in Week 18, the postseason was no guarantee. However, with a win against the Colts and a Jaguars loss to end the regular season, Houston took the AFC South title and followed it up with a dominant win against Cleveland last week. Now, they’re in the AFC Divisional Round and matched up against the best team in the conference. Clearly, everything at this point is gravy. The 9.5-point spread isn’t giving them much respect, but if we’ve learned anything this year, it’s that Houston is O.K. with being the underdog. With Stroud at QB and Demeco Ryans at head coach, though, this may be the last year they’ll be surprising anyone. 

With nothing to lose on Sunday, the Texans should try to come out firing. Unfortunately, though, they’re up against a great Baltimore defence that can make quarterbacks very uncomfortable. Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud may already be one of the better signal callers in this league, but for Houston to win on the weekend, he’ll have to be at his very best. It’s hard to imagine the Texans’ defence not allowing at least a few scores to Baltimore’s offence, and because of that, Stroud’s unit will need to match the Ravens on the scoreboard. Nico Collins is clearly his favorite receiver to target, but Stroud will need his secondary options to step up as well. If Dalton Schultz, Noah Brown or Robert Woods has a big game, Houston has a much better chance in this one. 

The Ravens

For the third time in five years, John Harbaugh and Lamar Jackson have led Baltimore to the AFC Divisional Round. However, they’re 0-2 in these games and as large favorites at home against a rookie quarterback, there’s a lot of pressure on them to get the job done this time. 2023 was not the first time that the Ravens have looked really good in the regular season, but something about this team does feel a little different. Lamar is playing great football and has a better core of receivers than he’s ever had, while the defence is one of the best units in the league. So, will they finally get over the hump with this team? 

I think they will this time, simply because they’ve got the whole package. They’re dynamic on offence and tough as nails on defence. They’re well coached, disciplined, and have much more experience than Houston in playoff football. There’s a reason this team is the conference’s top seed this year. I expect to see it in the AFC Divisional Round. Even if Mark Andrews can’t go, the Ravens have a solid tight end option in Isiah Likely, who should get some looks in the pass game. The receivers could also have a big day, but it’ll be most likely for whoever is NOT lined up against Houston’s Derek Stingley.  

The Pick

Overall, I think Baltimore is just too good right now. The public is favoring Houston against the spread, but I’ll take the Ravens to cover. The Texans have a great future in front of them with C.J. Stroud, but it’s Lamar Jackson’s time. 

Sunday Game – Kansas City at Buffalo

The Chiefs

Despite the doubt surrounding this year’s version of the Kansas City Chiefs, they’re still here in the AFC Divisional Round after a resounding win against Miami last weekend. On top of that, it looks like Patrick Mahomes finally has his WR1 to go alongside Travis Kelce. Last week, Rashee Rice went for 130 yards and a touchdown on eight catches in his playoff debut. He’s now had at least five catches in each of his last seven games, and is clearly the top option for Kansas City at wide receiver. The problem surrounding the Chiefs for most of the season was the lack of trust between Mahomes and his receivers, but with Rice stepping up recently, Patrick finally has another target to go to in the big moments. It’s tough to say if this emergence is enough to beat the Bills in Buffalo this week, but it’ll certainly help. 

Aside from Rice and Kelce, I don’t expect anyone to get a lot of looks in this game. Last week, the tandem combined for 15 of Mahomes’ 23 completions to nine different players, and with Buffalo’s defence banged up, I think they’ll be able to get the ball to both guys again. Isiah Pacheco will certainly get his chances in the run game, though, and if he can run it effectively, Kansas City’s offence will have a much easier time moving downfield. The main thing Kansas City has to avoid is turning the ball over. Momentum is a real thing in playoff football, and any mistake they make will give Buffalo’s home crowd another reason to crank up the intensity. 

The Bills

On the other side of the field, we’ve got the Buffalo Bills. Like Houston, the Bills spent much of the season thinking they’d be grinding for a wild card spot before eventually winning the division in Week 18. This is the team’s fifth straight year in the playoffs and third straight trip to the AFC Divisional Round, but it still feels like they’ve been underachieving in that time. With two playoff losses to the Chiefs in Kansas City, a third at home would be devastating for the team and their loyal fans. Much like Brady was to a lot of great AFC quarterbacks in his era, Mahomes has been the guy Josh Allen can’t quite get the better of when it matters most. I think most NFL fans are hoping he can finally overcome that challenge this weekend. 

To beat the Chiefs, Buffalo’s going to need a great performance from Allen and the offence. Kansas City’s defence is as good as it’s ever been during the Mahomes era, ranking second in points and yards against this season. Also, with how injured Buffalo’s defence is, it’s not realistic to expect to keep Mahomes and the Chiefs out of the endzone entirely. However, there’s one guy that could make a massive difference for Buffalo this weekend, and his name is James Cook. Cook represents a running game that Buffalo has not had during Allen’s run at quarterback, and the added dimension can make the offence that much tougher to deal with. It’s tough to pin the result on just one player, but if Cook is bottled up by the Chiefs, Buffalo’s chances to win this game go down dramatically.

The Pick

This game is the last one of the weekend for a reason. It’s the third playoff meeting between these teams in the last four years, and if it’s anything like the last two, we should be in for a great AFC Divisional Round clash. As much as I’d love to see the Bills get it done, I think I’d take the underdog Chiefs to at least cover the 2.5-point spread and keep this game very close. Pat Mahomes has never been eliminated from the playoffs before the conference championship game, and for Allen and the Bills to end that streak, they’ll need to put together a great game from start to finish. 


Click here for our NFC Divisional Round Preview

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Must See

More in Football