The first predictions, early lines, and quick analysis of all the 2022 NFL playoff games.
Let’s just hope that all of that will bring us something wonderful.
Oh sure, Las Vegas made things interesting against Cincinnati at the end, and the world is still waiting for Dallas to finally wake up and start playing against San Francisco, but Tampa Bay over Philadelphia was a dud.
Kansas City over Pittsburgh turned into breathtaking dud. Buffalo over New England became a shocking dud.
Fortunately, here come the killer matchups that should be a whole lot more fun. So what’s going to happen?
As we do for the college side, we go with the first-guess picks and then work from there. Like they tell you in third grade, always go with your first answer.
I don’t look at the lines, guess at what they are, and then add them at the end.
Last year I totally rocked the Wild Card round – 6-0 straight up and 5-1 against the spread – but this time around? Uhhhhh, as the man said, it’s on to Cincinnati – or, Cincinnati vs Tennessee – going 3-2 both straight up and against the spread with the Rams-Arizona game pending.
When our game previews come out – after the news of the week happens and there’s even more of a deep dive happening – these can and might change, but …
2022 NFL Playoffs Divisional Round: Saturday
4 Cincinnati at 1 Tennessee
Saturday, January 22
CBS, 4:30 ET
Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
Knee-Jerk Instant Analysis: Just how healthy is Derrick Henry?
That’s it. That’s everything.
D’Onta Foreman has done a nice job over the back half of the season for the Titans, and the defense has been terrific, but this comes down to whether or not the offense can control the tempo of the game and take the will away from the Cincinnati defense.
The Bengals were great against Las Vegas. Joe Burrow was sharp, Joe Mixon ran well, and the offense popped for over 300 yards in the 26-19 win.
However, there was a stretch in the second half when the Raider offensive line took over and Josh Jacobs was effective enough to change the overall energy of the game. That’s what Henry has to do, and if he can’t get rolling, then it’ll be Foreman.
Originally, the call was that New England was going to roll on into Nashville and grind its way to a win … oops. Cincinnati will get the offense going, but the rested Titans will come back in the second half with the ground game and fantastic run defense getting this done.
Knee-Jerk No Research Prediction: Tennessee 26, Cincinnati 20
Early Line No-Look Guess: Tennessee -3.5
Actual Line: Tennessee -3.5, o/u: 47
NEXT: San Francisco at Green Bay Divisional Round
6 San Francisco at 1 Green Bay
Saturday, January 22
FOX, 4:35 ET
Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
Knee-Jerk Instant Analysis: San Francisco pitched an almost-perfect game and it still had to hang on for dear life in the 23-17 win over Dallas.
The 49ers offensive line was outstanding, the coaching was peerless, and the defensive front didn’t let the Cowboys ever get comfortable. That same formula could work in Green Bay, but …
1) The Packers aren’t going to play like the Cowboys. That was one tensed-up Dallas team that looked and acted like the pressure of the world was on its shoulders. It’s like they were trying too hard to do something massive on every down. And 2), Green Bay isn’t going to get hit with 14 penalties and won’t give up five sacks.
It’s not fair to San Francisco to say Dallas choked, but if the term fits – that wasn’t the same team that was so confident and smooth in the regular season. That team took its tone and cues from the top – Jerry Jones.
Green Bay takes its tone and cues from 12.
Knee-Jerk No Research Prediction: Green Bay 31, San Francisco 23
Early Line No-Look Guess: Green Bay -5
Actual Line: Green Bay -5.5, o/u: 47.5
NEXT: Buffalo at Kansas City Divisional Round
2022 NFL Playoffs Divisional Round: Sunday
3 Buffalo at 2 Kansas City
Sunday, January 23
CBS, 6:30 ET
GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City
Knee-Jerk Instant Analysis: Seriously, where do you go and what do you do after that?
Buffalo pitched a perfect game against New England in the 47-17 win with close to 500 yards of total offense and with the defense dominating when it mattered. The Bills rolled 38-20 over the Chiefs the first time around back in Week 5, but this isn’t the same KC team.
It’s more settled, relaxed, and the defense has stepped up in a huge way over the second half of the season. But this is about the offense.
Buffalo was great this year against the mediocre offenses – or the relatively one-dimensional ones – and had problems with the attacks with talent. Four turnovers were the difference in the first meeting, and Kansas City doesn’t give it away anymore.
Everyone will be waiting for firepower, but don’t be stunned if this is a wee bit of a defensive fight until late.
Knee-Jerk No Research Prediction: Kansas City 31, Buffalo 27
Early Line No-Look Guess: Kansas City -4
Actual Line: Kansas City -2, o/u: 54.5
NEXT: Arizona or Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Divisional Round
4 Los Angeles Rams or 5 Arizona at 2 Tampa Bay
Sunday, January 23
NBC, 3:00 ET
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Knee-Jerk Instant Analysis: Either way – the Rams-Cardinals game is happening tonight, and I’ll adjust this right after – the Tampa Bay defense will get this done.
However, the Buccaneers got way too banged up against Philadelphia in the layup win. The D did its job, and Tom Brady was terrific without his normal skill talent around him, but there’s a problem if it’s LA coming to town.
The Rams have the lines to hold up, the passing game showed in Week 3 that it could get rolling against the Tampa Bay D, and …
It’s playoff time. The Buccaneer defense will hold up against the run against either team, and the big passing yards will be there against either team’s secondary.
Knee-Jerk No Research Prediction: COMING
Early Line No-Look Guess: Tampa Bay -3.5 vs Rams, or -7.5 over Cardinals
Actual Line: COMING, o/u: COMING