Rick Zamperin: Picking NFL divisional round playoff winners isn’t easy

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady hug after their season opening NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. The Saints won 34-23. AP Photo/Butch Dill

The NFL‘s Super Wild Card Weekend more than lived up to its billing last weekend with some nail-biting finishes, a couple of blowouts and two upsets.

I correctly picked four winners out of the six games, getting surprised by the L.A. Rams and Cleveland Browns who took out Seattle and Pittsburgh, respectfully.

This weekend, it’s the divisional round of the NFL playoffs with four very intriguing games.

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Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers (-7) This seems like the easiest game to pick, but sometimes looks can be deceiving. Yes, Green Bay is the NFC’s top seed, the Packers are coming off a bye wee and thy have the NFL’s top offence, but the Rams have the league’s top rated defence. This game will come down to two things: can Packers star QB Aaron Rodgers steer clear of Rams All Pro defender Aaron Donald and pick apart L.A.’s defence?

The other factor is whoever starts at quarterback for L.A. — Jared Goff or John Wolford — will have to play their best game of the season, and perhaps ever. Green Bay 28-20

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Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills (-2.5) As the line suggests, this should be the closest game of the weekend. Buffalo has had an amazing run and showed their mettle in a gutsy 27-24 win over a tough Indianapolis team last week. Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs have proven to be one of the league’s most lethal QB-WR combos but is this a game where Buffalo has to outscore its opponent or will it be a defensive slugfest?

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is fresh off an outstanding performance against Tennessee and equally important is Baltimore’s defence is healthy again. This is a coin flip kind of game and my coin landed on the Ravens. Baltimore 24-23

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Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs (-10) No one, not even the Browns themselves envisioned the terror they inflicted on the Pittsburgh Steelers last weekend. Cleveland stormed out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter and hung on to oust their AFC North rivals. Can they do it again, or was Cleveland’s 48-37 win their Super Bowl?

The Chiefs are well-rested and ready to defend their title. Give head coach Andy Reid a couple of weeks to prepare a game plan and what he comes up with will probably be explosive. The defending champs move on. Kansas City 34-27

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-3) After winning their two meetings during the regular season, the Saints are looking to complete the hat trick this weekend against the Bucs. Word is this is the last ride for super-Saints QB Drew Brees, who turned 42 Friday. Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady is 43, making this the oldest quarterback combination in an NFL playoff game ever.

New Orleans’ impressive 21-9 win over Chicago last week showed me that they are ready to make a deep playoff run. Brady and the Bucs’ offence has been playing really well over the last month or so but it is their inconsistent defence that causes concern. New Orleans 31-28

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Rick Zamperin is the assistant program, news and senior sports director at Global News Radio 900 CHML.

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