Bold predictions for 2023 NFL Divisional Playoffs: Travis Kelce walks away, Bills exposes Bengals’ O-line woes

We’re now a week into the NFL playoffs, and the pool of teams remaining in the Super Bowl mix has dropped to eight. By the end of this weekend, we’ll have it down even further, with just two teams from the AFC and two from the NFC vying to represent their respective conferences on football’s biggest stage.

As usual, we expect some pretty crazy things to happen when these games actually start. So, here we are again without bold predictions. Just like last week, we have one for every game on the schedule.

When the Chiefs and Jaguars played in Week 10, Travis Kelce had a good game. He caught 6 of 7 passes thrown his way, totaling 81 yards and a touchdown. But as we know, Kelce is capable of much more than even this stat line. And the Jaguars have struggled to defend tight ends this season. Jacksonville ranked 32nd (also known as last) in the NFL in DVOA on tight throws, according to Football Outsiders. The Jags have had 81 receptions for 1,066 yards and seven player scores at that position, and we’ve seen their linebackers, in particular, take advantage of the cover all year. Even against the Chargers last week, Gerald Everett and Donald Parham had 10 receptions for 133 yards and a score on 13 targets. Expect Kelce to have a big day on Saturday.

Danny Dimes has shown a ton of improvement this season in just about every area. Nowhere was that more evident than in his performance against the Vikings on Super Wild Card Weekend, which might have been the best game of his career. Jones completed 24 of 35 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing 17 times for 78 additional yards. In two games against Minnesota this season, Brian Daboll and Co. gave Jones a voice, taking advantage of one of the friendliest pass defenses in the NFL. The Eagles don’t have a friendly pass defense. They have one of the best pass-rush units in the league and an extremely sticky group of coverage players. Jones was 18 of 27 passing for 169 yards and a touchdown the last time those two teams played, and while he added four carries for 26 yards and an extra score, he also took four sacks. The Giants offense is better now than it was then, but managing that Philadelphia defense is still a much tougher task than it faced a week ago.

Bills vs. Bengals: Buffalo exposes Cincy’s lack of depth up front

The Bengals are hemorrhaging on offensive linemen every week. Back in Week 16, they lost right tackle La’el Collins for the season to a torn ACL. In Week 18, they lost guard Alex Cappa to an ankle injury. And last week in the Wild Card Game against the Ravens, they lost left tackle Jonah Williams to a knee problem. The Bengals will likely only start two-fifths from their starting offensive line. They might get away with starting Hakeem Adeniji or Jackson Carman or Max Scharping…but all of them? It’s just too much to survive against Buffalo’s defense – even with Joe Burrow in charge. Greg Rousseau, Shaq Lawson, Ed Oliver, DaQuan Jones, AJ Epenesa, Boogie Basham, Tim Settle – the Bills just have too much talent up front. And they can complete that group with Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds heading for the ball.

49ers vs. Cowboys: The Shanahan Show continues

Brock Purdy barely broke a sweat during the 49ers’ offensive detonation against the Seahawks last week. Of his 30 passing attempts, only TWO were thrown in a narrow window, according to NFL.com’s Next Gen stats. It’s the Kyle Shanahan effect. San Francisco’s offensive brain can organize open players as well or better than any coach in the NFL, and with Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle and Elijah Mitchell, he has one of the best bodies of NFL skills. with whom to work. It’s borderline unfair. Dallas’ defense shut down Tampa on Monday night, but it’s still working shorthanded in the secondary and could have a somewhat gimp Jayron Kearse after suffering a knee injury against the Bucs. The bet here is that San Francisco finds a way to take advantage of this group at the back.

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