The Rubek Report: Divisional Round

In-depth look at this weekends Divisional Round games


Anthony Rubek, Sports Editor

Congratulations to junior Colby Wallace and freshman Miguel Partida for going 6-0 last week along with yours truly. Don’t forget to fill out this week’s form for your own chance to go undefeated. Remember, the top three records after the Super Bowl will receive a gift card to Chick-fil-A!

After going undefeated last week, I look to continue my hot streak and now must predict the Divisional round. But don’t give up yet. There’s still plenty of time to beat me and earn the chance at receiving a gift card to Chick-fil-A! Now, here’s a look at this weekends games,

Cincinnati Bengals (10-7) at Tennessee Titans (12-5) (Saturday, CBS, 3:30 PM CT)

The first game of the Divisional round is between the fourth seeded Bengals and the first seeded Titans. The Bengals narrowly defeated the Las Vegas Raiders in the Wild Card round 26-19 to win their first playoff game in over 30 years. Quarterback Joe Burrow was ready for the big stage throwing for 244 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Ja’Marr Chase was also not fazed catching nine passes for 116 yards. On the other side of the ball, the Bengals bend don’t break defense held the Raiders to four field goals and an interception by linebacker Germaine Pratt sealed the win as the Raiders were driving to tie it up. Meanwhile, the Titans had the week off as the one seed in the AFC. For Tennessee, they may be getting back former Offensive Player of the Year Derrick Henry, who has been out of action since week nine. The Titans offense faced injuries all year with quarterback Ryan Tannehill being the only skill player to play in all 17 games. However, they are looking close to full strength as of late with phenomenal receivers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones both coming back after missing games over the season. Their defense consists of players such as safety Kevin Byard and defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons who have both had underrated seasons. It would be interesting how the receiving corps for both teams fare against each other as Brown and Jones will have their hands full with the Bengals cornerback duo of Chidobe Awuzie and Eli Apple who’ve both had surprising seasons. I can see this game going either way but with the Titans getting back to full strength and having the week off I got them winning a close one.

My Pick: Titans 30 Bengals 24

Bold Prediction: Derrick Henry doesn’t miss a stride, rushing for over 120 yards and two touchdowns

San Francisco 49ers (10-7) at Green Bay Packers (13-4) (Saturday, FOX, 7:15 PM CT)

The second game on Saturday features the sixth seeded 49ers traveling to Lambeau Field to take on the first seeded Packers. The 49ers are fresh off a wild win against the Dallas Cowboys 23-17. Their running game was on point with running back Elijah Mitchell rushing for 96 yards and a touchdown while self proclaimed wide back Deebo Samuel also ran for 72 yards and a score. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo did not play the best, tossing for 172 yards and an interception. Their defense also took some hits with defensive end Nick Bosa leaving the game with a concussion and linebacker Fred Warner tweaking his leg in the fourth quarter as well. While the 49ers defense is nowhere near a hundred percent, the Packers defense looks the best it has been all season. They get back former Pro Bowlers in cornerback Jaire Alexander and edge rusher Za’Darius Smith, who have both missed most of the season with injuries. However, boths presences have been made up for by cornerback Rasul Douglas and edge rusher Rashan Gary having amazing years. On offense, Aaron Rodgers has had another MVP caliber year after winning it last season throwing for 37 touchdowns and only four interceptions. 11 of those touchdowns went to  All-Pro receiver Davante Adams, whose 1,553 yards receiving is a franchise record. It will be interesting to see how the running back duo of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon will play against a 49ers defense who held in check the Cowboys duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. With the Packers secondary getting stronger, Garoppolo will have to get a majority of his yards in the short passing game. With that, expect tight end George Kittle to get his fair share of targets but he must be ready for All-Pro linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, who statistically was one of the best coverage linebackers this year. While the 49ers are a very dangerous team, I think the Packers health will be more valuable and see them winning this game and move on to their third consecutive NFC title game.

My Pick: Packers 27 49ers 17

Bold Prediction: Jaire Alexander gets an interception in his first game back.

Los Angeles Rams (12-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4) (Sunday, NBC, 2:00 PM CT)

The first game of Sunday pits the fourth seeded Rams against the second seeded Buccaneers. The Rams made easy work of the Arizona Cardinals, winning 34-11. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was excellent, throwing for 202 yards and two touchdowns to finally win the first playoff game in his career. The Rams defense locked down the Cardinals, especially quarterback Kyler Murray. Murray had what possibly could be his worst game as a pro, putting up an abysmal 137 yards and two interceptions, one of which resulted in a pick six for Rams cornerback David Long Jr. Tampa Bay took care of the Philadelphia Eagles 31-15 in a game that felt like a bigger win than just 16 points. The connection between quarterback Tom Brady and receiver Mike Evans was sharp with Evans being responsible for 117 of Brady’s 271 yards. The Bucs defense looked great after weeks of uncertainty with players out with injuries. Their pressure on Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts made him uneasy in the pocket which resulted in him forcing interceptions to edge rusher Shaquil Barrett and safety Mike Edwards. Tampa Bay is looking to continue their attempt to run it back and repeat as Super Bowl Champs, but this game is no easy task. Stafford has the pleasure of throwing to talented receivers like Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr. while Brady really only has Evans and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Other than that, it’s just whether on not one of the lesser known receivers on the Bucs steps up or not. Last week no one did, which the Bucs cannot afford happening again with Evans lining up against Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who is one of if not the best shutdown corner in the league. Because of the problem Evans will be dealing with as well as the question on if any guys will fill the void, I see the front seven of the Rams including Aaron Donald and Von Miller getting to Brady and ultimately getting the Rams the win.

My Pick: Rams 23 Buccaneers 20

Bold Prediction: Rams sack Tom Brady 3+ times

Buffalo Bills (11-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (12-5) (Sunday, CBS, 6:30 PM CT)

The last game of the Divisional round may be the most intriguing one as the third seeded Bills play the second seeded Chiefs. The two teams met in last year’s AFC championship game with the Chiefs winning 38-24. Buffalo played a near flawless game against the New England Patriots in the Wild Card round winning 47-17. Quarterback Josh Allen had one of the best performances in a playoff game ever, throwing for five touchdowns and only four incompletions. Tight end Dawson Knox had a productive game, catching two touchdowns while tallying 89 yards. Similar to the Bills offense, the Chiefs offense was all fireworks (until they ran out) against the Steelers, winning 42-21. After a slow start, quarterback Patrick Mahomes played lights out, tossing for 404 yards and five touchdowns. Tight end Travis Kelce showed why he is one of the best players in the league, catching five passes for 108 and a touchdown while also throwing for a score as well. With how well both offenses did, it will be a game won or lost on the defensive side of the ball. After having one of the worst defenses in the league the first half of the season, the Chiefs have improved tremendously since then. They face a tough task as the Bills have one of the top receivers in the league Stefon Diggs, while also having receivers like Emmanuel Sanders and Gabriel Davis who can go off at any moment. Meanwhile, the Bills secondary took a hit losing cornerback Tre’Davious White for the season. Not all hope is lost as they still have the All Pro safety duo of Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde holding it down who must be prepared for speedy Chiefs receivers Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman. Despite all of this week’s good matchups, this is by far the hardest game to pick as both teams showed last round that they are more than capable of winning the whole thing. While I know that Buffalo has had this rematch in their mind ever since last year, it’s just so hard to pick against the Chiefs, especially in Arrowhead Stadium.

My Pick: Chiefs 31 Bills 28

Bold Prediction: Tight ends Travis Kelce and Dawson Knox each have over 100 yards receiving

As I look to go 4-0 this week, know that there’s still time to go undefeated yourself. Click the link at the top of this story to submit your picks for this week’s games!