The Cleveland Browns' season is over, but as general NFL fans, there's still a lot to look forward to with the postseason beginning this weekend. Let's run through each game for a mini-preview and prediction, starting with the Saturday games. We will cover the Sunday and Monday games in other articles.
The final game of the regular season was insane, and ultimately, the Raiders kicked a game winning field goal, even though a tie would've secured a playoff spot too. However, a win did change their opponent: instead of facing the Chiefs, then now take on the Bengals.
The Raiders were 6-7 before winning their final four games, a streak that began with that frustrating 16-14 win over the Browns. Nick Mullens should've gotten the win that day, and all Cleveland needed was three yards to win the game. Ugh. It's surprising how the Raiders built enough momentum to sneak in.
Las Vegas lost to Cincinnati 32-13 earlier this season. The Joe Burrow to Ja'Marr Chase connection has been unreal, as the duo has succeeded despite some questionable offensive line play. Both of these teams have flaws and are susceptible to laying an egg, but the obvious pick here is rooting for Cincinnati to continue their impressive offensive showing and taking care of the Raiders for a second time. Bengals 31, Raiders 20
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Bengals are 5 point favorites against the Raiders.
The Patriots were 9-4 heading into their bye week, but then lost 3 of their final four games. Prior to that bye week was the crazy game where all New England did was run the ball: Mac Jones only had 3 pass attempts in a 14-10 victory. That game-plan was heavily dictated by windy weather conditions.
The day after Christmas, though, Josh Allen and company got the last laugh with a 33-21 victory. That ultimately helped to be the difference makes in Buffalo winning the division, and hosting this first round playoff game. The Bills' season has been pretty weird, though. After starting 4-1, they were 3-5 over their next 8 games before closing the season at 4-0. I didn't expect them to finish the season as division champions given their inconsistent play, but here they are.
I love what Bill Belichick has been able to get out of Mac Jones as a rookie, and he's had that defense playing very opportunistic football at times. Josh Allen had a very good, albeit slightly down season (compared to a year ago). I think we've seen some signs of him starting to make those special plays again, but this week could be anyone's game.
Weather will certainly have an impact in this one, because the gametime temperature will be 8 degrees, and the feels like temperature could be about -4 degrees. One might think that'll mean the Patriots will try their heavy run game strategy again, but I can't see that being deployed for a one-and-done playoff game. I'll go with Allen throwing the ball a bit better in these frigid conditions for the win. Bills 24, Patriots 20
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Bills are 4.5 point favorites against the Patriots.
You can use this as your open thread to discuss both Saturday games too.