2021 NFL Divisional Round Playoff Predictions

By Saransh Sharma & Rohan Krishnan

The 2021 Super Wild Card Weekend was one of the most memorable ones in recent memory. We saw Tom Brady set up Brady-Brees III, Taylor Heinicke had the performance of his life and maybe the best quarterback performance of the Wild Card Weekend in Washington’s loss to Tampa. We saw Buffalo and Cleveland break their playoff win droughts, a Nickelodeon NFL game, the Rams run the Seahawks out of Seattle, and Lamar Jackson got his first playoff win as Baltimore got their revenge against Tennessee. This weekend should set up one of the most Divisional Rounds in recent memory, with many young, up-and-coming superstar QB in the AFC and legendary QBs in the NFC. Here are our predictions for the Divisional Round:

AFC Divisional Round

#6 Cleveland Browns @ #1 Kansas City Chiefs

Saransh’s Prediction: Cleveland just came off of what may have been their biggest playoff win in team history with their upset victory over the Steelers, and what a display they put on. With great defensive play all night to give the offense short fields to work with, along with the poise of Baker Mayfield and the running game from Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb, this Browns team proved how legit they are. The Browns proved to be a team that could give Kansas City problems. In Kansas City’s first loss of the year to the Raiders, the Raiders grossly outrushed the Chiefs, which ultimately led to the win, as every other stat was almost identical for both teams. Despite that, the Chiefs offense will have all their cannons out ready to fire, and the Browns offense will have much more work to do than they had on Sunday Night. Chiefs win, but the Browns keep it very close. Final Score: 37-34, Chiefs

Rohan’s Prediction: What a win for the Cleveland Browns, getting their first playoff victory in 25 years! Cleveland dominated the Steelers with almost no practice and their head coach in quarantine. They showed they can overcome adversity and find ways to win games shorthanded. However, they are about to face a very well-rested Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and the Kansas City Chiefs on the road with 17,000+ fans in attendance. The Browns secondary will get torn apart, and this game will not be close. Browns fans should be proud of their season and have a lot to look forward to in the future. Final Score: 41-20, Chiefs

#5 Baltimore Ravens @ #2 Buffalo Bills

Saransh’s Prediction: Two of the most electrifying QBs in the league, Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen, have led their teams to this position, along with great weapons around them and defenses to complement them as well. This game is calling for 1-3 inches of snow on Saturday, and Lamar Jackson said earlier this week that he has never played in the snow and hopes not to. That to me is all the difference, as that, coupled with Bills Mafia in the stands, boosts the Bills to victory. Final Score: 24-17, Bills

Rohan’s Prediction: Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen, both getting their first playoff win last weekend, are a pair of thrilling dual-threat playmakers, which makes this matchup very exciting. Both teams are evenly matched and had very hot finishes to the regular season. Baltimore did a fantastic job containing Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry last week, but this week will have a more difficult test against the electric Buffalo offense. I anticipate a down-to-the-wire game, but Buffalo will come out on top by controlling Baltimore in the red zone. The weather will be in favor of Buffalo too, and Lamar does not have experience playing. Final Score: 23-20, Bills

NFC Divisional Round

#6 Los Angeles Rams @ #1 Green Bay Packers

Saransh’s Prediction: The hype around the Rams defense is legit, and they are the undisputed best defensive group in all of football, but against the best offense, led by arguably the most talented quarterback in NFL history in Aaron Rodgers, and all of his pass-catching options, at some point the Rams defense will bend enough to the point where Rodgers makes them break. Davante Adams and Jalen Ramsey will have the most exciting WR-CB matchup we have seen in ages, but Rodgers will keep the Packers’ offense afloat. That, along with the uncertainty of Jared Goff at QB, who will be asked to throw late in the game, and in the cold, possibly-snowy winter wonderland of Lambeau Field, that should propel Green Bay to the win. Final Score: 28-14, Packers

Rohan’s Prediction: The best defense in the league against the best offense in the league, what more could you ask for? No NFL team has scored more points in the regular season than the Packers, while the Rams defense is responsible for most of the team’s wins. The Rams have the issue of having both Jared Goff and Aaron Donald banged up coming into this game. Dealing with injuries to these key players will be a headache for Sean McVay and his squad, along with the icy conditions, nothing like that nice Los Angeles weather. That said, I feel an upset brewing. Even though MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers has been on a tear, I think the Rams secondary can contain Davante Adams and the rest of the receivers. Also, the Packers will be missing All-Pro David Bakhtiari, which is a concern against the team that leads the NFL in sacks (53). Rams will shock the world and play in the NFC Championship for the 2nd time in 3 years. Final Score: 26-23, Rams

#5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ #2 New Orleans Saints

Saransh’s Prediction: Brees vs. Brady, Part III, live on The History Channel. Well, that is a joke but has become viral on Twitter during the past few days. All jokes aside, this matchup has the legacies of Brady and Brees on the line, as Brady losing three times in one season to Brees could put a bit of a dent on his legacy, especially now that he is in Tampa as opposed to New England, where the competition was typically much younger and less experienced. Both times these teams have played, Brees has calmly picked apart the Buccaneer defense, Alvin Kamara has done his thing on the ground, and the elite front-seven has fooled Brady and forced mistakes. While Tampa Bay may have figured out how to beat Washington’s elite front-seven, them doing it twice in a row, is unlikely. I expect Brees to have a very similar game to the one he had against the Bears last week, where he constantly found Michael Thomas and led the Saints on methodical, clock-chewing drives. Final Score: 30-21, Saints


Rohan’s Prediction:  This game should be a memorable one as it will be the last time we will see Drew Brees and Tom Brady face off head to head. The Saints have swept the Buccaneers in the regular season by a combined 72-26 score. New Orleans has an elite defense and showed that when they held the Bears to 9 points and the Bucs to just 3 points in their most recent matchup. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers managed to take care of Washington but it was not easy by any means, and it went down-to-the-wire. On paper, the Saints have the better defense, better offensive line, and know-how to win games against elite opponents. However, you can never count out Tom Brady, who has the most impressive playoff resume and has weapons like Evans, Gronk, Godwin, and AB. I expect this to be a close game, but the Saints will come out victorious thanks to their defense and controlling the clock. Final Score: 33-28, Saints

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