It’s time for another round of playoff football, which means it’s also time for more playoff predictions.
Four more teams have been eliminated, while only eight are left to compete for a Lombardi Trophy. They’ll all be in action this weekend, with Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson set to square off in the Sunday night finale.
Can the Titans maintain their momentum and pull off an even bigger upset in Baltimore? Will the 49ers defense be too much for Kirk Cousins to handle? Who will triumph in Kansas City: Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes? We’ll find out soon enough.
A week after yours truly went just 1-3 against the spread in the Wild-Card round, it’ll be hard to do any worse this week. So we’ve got more predictions and picks against the spread — for each Divisional Round showdown on tap — as you prepare for the next wave of action. Enjoy!
Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers
Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET (NBC, stream it on FuboTV for free)
Point spread: 49ers -7
As soon as the Vikings upset the Saints on Sunday, I decided I was going to take them to advance to the NFC title game. But then I reconsidered Kyle Shanahan’s offensive strategy and weapons (translation: I got scared) and decided otherwise. That, of course, doesn’t even account for San Francisco’s vaunted defense, which has the talent to get after Kirk Cousins. In reality, Minnesota should still be competitive here. Dalvin Cook looked fresh as ever in New Orleans, and the Niners are more vulnerable to surrendering points than people realize. Jimmy Garoppolo is also bound for some playoff hiccups. Still, the 49ers are better coached and well-rounded.
Prediction: 49ers 27, Vikings 23
Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens
Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Ravens -9
Hats off to the Titans for defying the odds once again and knocking out the Patriots. Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, Mike Vrabel — they’ve all been proving people wrong, and then some. The train’s going to stop in Baltimore, however. Yes, Tennessee is good at controlling the clock, but the Ravens are even better. It’s almost tiring to reiterate Lamar Jackson’s dynamic abilities at this point, but let’s do it anyway: He’s a downright marvel. John Harbaugh’s aggressiveness should help No. 8 keep the ball in his team’s hands, and the Ravens will be bound for the AFC Championship with this year’s most impressive athlete under their center.
Prediction: Ravens 29, Titans 21
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Sunday, 3:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Chiefs -9.5
A lot of people, myself included, had no problem riding with the underdog in the Texans’ first playoff game, but Houston took advantage of Josh Allen’s blunders to discard the Bills. This time around, it won’t be as easy. Deshaun Watson always makes things entertaining, and Houston has film on K.C. from earlier this year. But the Chiefs, at home, with Patrick Mahomes healthy and Steve Spagnuolo’s defense actually heating up? I can’t stretch myself far enough to predict a Texans upset here. This one’s Andy Reid’s to lose, even if the 9.5-point spread seems a touch high.
Prediction: Chiefs 31, Texans 24
Sunday, 6:40 p.m. ET (FOX, stream it on FuboTV for free)
Point spread: Packers -4
This is a juicy matchup just because of the quarterbacks and franchises involved, but it honestly might feature the two worst teams in the postseason. (That line will undoubtedly come back to bite me, but whatever.) No, I wouldn’t necessarily pick, say, Houston over Green Bay, but both the Seahawks and the Packers are probably a little worse than their records indicate. Both have big-name QBs with either banged-up or inconsistent supporting casts. Both had to fight tooth and nail to get where they are. Wilson is a better play-extender than Rodgers at this point, but Seattle barely beat Eagles practice-squadders on Sunday. Give it to the home team.
Prediction: Packers 26, Seahawks 24
Season (straight up): 152-103-1
Season (against the spread): 118-132-6
Playoffs (straight up): 0-4
Playoffs (against the spread): 1-3