The Jacksonville Spoilers... And The Power of Love!
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Kansas City Chiefs When the odds are stacked against them, the Jacksonville Jaguars seem to shine. Despite starting the season with a lackluster 3-7 record, the team rallied and won six of their final seven regular-season games to make the playoffs. In the wild-card round, the team faced a seemingly insurmountable 27-0 deficit, but managed to make one of the biggest comebacks in playoff history. This pattern of excelling when not expected to win could continue as they face the top-seeded Kansas City team, who boast the N.F.L.'s best regular-season offense. Kansas City has a tendency to lay big numbers and fail to cover in games, and their defense tends to take more chances when they have a comfortable lead. However, this high-risk strategy could backfire and the underdogs, led by quarterback Trevor Lawrence, could come out on top.
New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles The Giants have shown a tendency to come back in games in which they were trailing, with four fourth-quarter comebacks in the regular season. Daniel Jones had a standout performance in the wild-card round, leading the team to four touchdowns and an upset win over the Vikings. This success can be attributed to the return of defensive starters from injury, which helped the Giants to limit the Vikings' big plays. The team will need to maintain this level of effort against the Eagles, who enter the game rested thanks to a bye week. The Eagles beat the Giants in both of their regular-season meetings, but those games may not be a reliable predictor of the outcome. Despite Jones's dual-threat abilities and the resurgence of running back Saquon Barkley, the Giants had trouble against top-10 defenses, with a 2-4-1 record in those games. The Eagles have a strong defense, and pose a particular threat as pass rushers, leading the NFL in sacks with 70. Although the Eagles are the heavy favorites, a recently stout Giants defense and an overachieving Daniel Jones could throw this one to the men from the Meadowlands and start to stir memories of 2011.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Buffalo Bills Love for Damar... The Bills will be playing with added motivation in their rematch of the Week 17 game that was canceled after Damar Hamlin's cardiac arrest during the contest. Hamlin is reportedly set to be in attendance on the Bills' sideline for the first time, which could provide a significant boost to morale. However, the Bills have struggled with turnovers, particularly when quarterback Josh Allen takes unnecessary risks rather than opting for easy, clock-controlling short pick-ups. The Bengals, meanwhile, have been able to lock up opponents late in games thanks to in-game adjustments made by coordinator Lou Anarumo, which limit big plays and give the Bengals' offense time to score. The Bengals may need this help to put up points as their offensive line continues to be plagued by injuries, with Jonah Williams and Alex Cappa both missing practice on Wednesday due to knee and ankle injuries, respectively. Joe Burrow has been able to adapt to pressure, getting the ball out in an average of 2.49 seconds, the second-fastest in the league behind Tom Brady. Buffalo's defense has been weaker in the second half of the season, particularly since losing Von Miller to a knee injury in November, and they've been forced to blitz more than they would prefer. This could open up opportunities for the Bengals' receivers to exploit the Bills' secondary. While it is possible that the Bengals exploit an injury riddled Bills defense, that may not be enough to beat the power of love.
Dallas Cowboys vs. San Fransisco 49ers The Dallas Cowboys are riding high after their historic road playoff victory, but they must now face the San Francisco 49ers in order to advance to the NFC Championship game for the first time in 25 years. The Cowboys are entering this game as 4-point underdogs, despite both teams coming off dominant performances in the Super Wild Card Round. The Cowboys defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-14, while the 49ers crushed the Seattle Seahawks 41-23. The 49ers have been on an 11-game winning streak and are considered favorites by most experts to continue their winning streak against the Cowboys.