Baltimore Ravens @ Buffalo Bills (-2.5) – Saturday, January 16 at 8:15pm ET on NBC
The Ravens have finally found their offensive identity again. They’re done with the passing and trying to pretend like their offense is built for something it’s not. I think the Ravens really benefited the most from the Browns winning on Sunday night because they get to avoid Mahomes and the Chiefs for at least one more week. This is a team that looks like a championship contender. They can move the ball and control it on offense (as long as Lamar doesn’t throw any more egregious INTs like the one he tossed Sunday), and on defense, there might not be a more cohesive unit in the league. They held Derrick Henry to under 50 yards rushing last week! But will it be enough to stop the offensive juggernaut that is Josh Allen throwing to Stefon Diggs? That is the big question. Allen, Diggs, and the rest of the offense are clicking like one of the best units in the league, and their defense is playing at quite a high level too. There were concerns watching last week’s game about the Bills ability to actually close out a win which could come back to hurt them this week, but heading into the playoffs, there wasn’t a hotter team in the NFL. While I love what the Ravens have been able to do this year by committing to the offensive identity that works best for them, I don’t think they’ll be able to slow the game down enough to control the Bills.
Prediction: Bills 31, Ravens 27
Cleveland Browns @ Kansas City Chiefs (-10) – Sunday, January 17 at 3:05pm ET on CBS
“The Browns won their Super Bowl last week when they beat the Steelers” is not the sentiment that Browns fans want to here right now, but there is at least some aspect of truth to it. This is a team that had made the playoffs just one time since moving back to Cleveland and had not won a playoff game since the move…oh, and they also hadn’t beaten the Steelers in Pittsburgh in 18 years. So, yeah, last week was kind of their Super Bowl. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t come out and put up a good fight this week. This Browns team relies heavily on running the ball, controlling the clock, and keeping the opposing offense off of the field which, coincidentally, are also the ways that teams have beaten Mahomes and the Chiefs recently. If the Browns can get Chubb and Hunt going, it could be a frustrating first half for the Chiefs. But, unfortunately for Browns fans, I think that’s where we’ll see the end of their control. Mahomes is simply too good right now, and it’s fair to argue that this Chiefs team is better than the Super Bowl winning team we saw last year. They are playing as a cohesive unit from top to bottom, and their defense is better than last year’s defense. Once the team shakes off their first quarter rust from resting the last two weeks, it’s going to be fast-paced action, and the Browns won’t know what hit them. The Browns are set up nicely for the future, but their playoff win streak will end at 1 in 2021.
Prediction: Chiefs 30, Browns 22
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