Nostrathomas Predicts: Super Bowl LV Adversaries Take the Spotlight In Divisional Round Weekend

Nostrathomas had a rough day yesterday. I had predicted that the Cincinnati Bengals could beat Tennessee if they forced the Titans to abandon their ground game and put the ball in the hands of Ryan Tannehill. Well, Mike Vrabel did that on his own and paid the price. Tannehill threw interceptions on his first pass of the game, his first pass of the second half and his final pass of the game. Cincinnati got the game they needed without ever forcing the issue.

As for last night’s game between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers, on their first drive, Green Bay made it look like they would cruise to a blowout win. Then the 49ers defense cracked down and kept the Packers from sniffing the end zone the rest of the game. Robbie Gould finished things off by doing what he does best and the 49ers will face the winner of the below contest in the NFC Championship Game.

NFC Divisional Round

Los Angeles Rams +3 vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3:00PM ET; Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened the 2021 season looking determined to successfully defend their Super Bowl LV title and they continued playing strong all season, finishing with a 13-4 record. As for the Los Angeles Rams, their goal this season has been an attempt to play in Super Bowl LVI in their home stadium.

Both teams have made it to this point by crushing their Wild Card opponents. Now they’ll play their Divisional Round game by cage match rules. Two teams enter, one team leaves.

Last week, the Buccaneers were able to stack the box to choke Philadelphia’s running game and force Jalen Hurts to beat them through the air. This week, they don’t get that luxury. Tampa Bay’s defense will force the Rams to rely more than they would like on their passing game but that’s playing into Los Angeles’ strength.

Matthew Stafford threw for 4,886 yards this season, third highest total in his career. He also matched his career best with 41 touchdown passes. He’s thrived having Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson and tight end Tyler Higbee as his targets.

What Sean McVay has to ensure is that Stafford play within himself and not try to be too cute, which he tends to do when he’s trying to force the action.

Of course, the defending Super Bowl champions aren’t going to panic at the thought of the Rams offense. What is going to have Tom Brady waking up in cold sweats at night is the shape of his offensive line.

Buccaneers right tackle Tristan Wirfs ad center Ryan Jenson are dealing with ankle injuries. Bad news under normal circumstances but is a potential disaster against an Aaron Darnold led Los Angeles defensive front.

The Philadelphia Eagles sacked Brady four times last week but he still torched their secondary for 271 yards and two touchdowns. He’s not only going to have a tougher time facing the Rams pass rush. His quick release isn’t going to be as effective when facing a secondary that Jalen Ramsey is patrolling. Brady’s depleted receiver squad isn’t going to help him either.

Having offensive line problems is rough to overcome in the regular season. Those problems get multiplied when you’re in the playoffs and facing a dominating defensive front. That’s why the Los Angeles Rams advance to the NFC Championship Game.

Los Angeles Rams 24 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20

AFC Divisional Round

Buffalo Bills +1.5 vs Kansas City Chiefs (6:30PM ET; GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO)

This game could easily come down to, the last team with the ball wins.

Sharp money has been laying heavily on the Buffalo Bills with practically no pro betters coming in on the side of the Kansas City Chiefs.

It took the Chiefs half a season to find their defense. Over the final nine weeks of the season Kansas City has only surrendered an average of 16 points per game. However, the Bills have averaged 374.7 total yards and 27.5 points per game over that span.

Kansas City will be without Clyde Edwards-Helaire at running back but Jerick Mckinnon averaged 5.1 yards per carry last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers so the Chiefs shouldn’t see a dramatic loss of production there.

Where Kansas City will have problems is trying to solve the Bills running game on defense. Buffalo running back Devin Singletary has been running with a purpose over the past month, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. Also, since Week 14 the Bills have averaged 164 yards per game on the ground. The Chiefs finished the season 31st in yards per carry allowed.

That’s where the difference in this game should come from. Buffalo’s ground game combined with Josh Allen’s group of wide receivers will allow the Bills to not only keep up with but outscore Kansas City’s prolific offense.

I’m predicting that the Buffalo Bills move on to face the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game.

On another note, the over/under for this game is currently at 54. Take the over as part of your action today.

Buffalo Bills 35 Kansas City Chiefs 31

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