Early NFL Picks, Predictions Divisional Round: Can the Bengals, 49ers, and Bills cause upsets?

What are our early picks and predictions for the Divisional Round of the 2022 NFL playoffs as the Super Bowl creeps ever closer?

There are some fantastic NFL matchups to make picks and predictions for in the Divisional Round. Dominant victories for several home teams this past weekend have left us with some tantalizing matchups as the NFL playoff bracket and matchups crystallize with just six games remaining until Super Bowl 56.

NFL picks and predictions for the Divisional Round | NFL lines and odds

It is fascinating to see how the sportsbooks view this upcoming weekend. On the AFC side especially, we have the top four seeds battling head-to-head in what many would have described as the ideal matchups heading into the playoffs. Let’s examine the NFL odds for the NFL Divisional Round as of 3:30 AM ET on January 17 and make our NFL betting picks and predictions for how these games may go — starting with Saturday’s doubleheader.

Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans (-3.5)

The first matchup of the Divisional Round presents a clash in styles between the Titans and Bengals. Tennessee ran the ball more than any other team this season, while Cincinnati has tended to be more balanced. Therefore, the keys to this game are the Bengals’ run defense and the Titans’ pass defense.

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Tennessee will be buoyed by the expected return of Derrick Henry. If Henry is active, his health could be crucial. If he is back to his best, the Titans will have the ability to control the game and keep the Bengals defense on the field.

However, if Henry is rusty, the Bengals have a great chance to cause the upset. If Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase can get going the way they were early against the Raiders, they will be tough to stop. In a weekend that feels like we have four reasonably even matchups, this could be the first of several upsets this week.

Bengals vs. Titans Prediction: Bengals 27, Titans 24

San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers (-6)

The health of Nick Bosa will be crucial in this matchup after he left the Wild Card Weekend game with a concussion. If Bosa is there, the 49ers have a real chance to go into Green Bay and cause an upset. Without Bosa, Aaron Rodgers could pick off San Francisco’s pass defense, which is the weakest area of this defense.

In terms of the 49ers’ offense, their run game could be the key to success. The Packers are the third-worst team in the league in rush yards allowed per game. Their overall numbers look good because their opponents are often left chasing the game in the second half. However, the 49ers have dominated Green Bay with the run game in previous seasons and could do so again. This has the feeling of being a close game, and even if the 49ers cannot win outright, they have a great chance to cover the spread.

49ers vs. Packers Prediction: Packers 24, 49ers 23

Divisional Sunday: Free NFL picks and predictions

We are set for another superb pair of matchups on Sunday as the Conference Championships in both the AFC and NFC get finalized. Let’s examine the NFL odds as they stand at 3:30 AM ET on Monday morning and make our picks and predictions for the final two games of the Divisional Round.

Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3)

This could not have played out much worse for the Buccaneers. The Rams have beaten them twice in the past two seasons and are perfectly set up to face the Buccaneers. The long-held knowledge of how to disrupt Brady is pressure up the middle, well the Rams have Aaron Donald to do just that. If center Ryan Jensen comes into the game limited, Brady could be in for a long day of Donald in his face.

The Rams offense needs to play its part. The Eagles had a horrible offensive game plan and they were never in it against the Buccaneers. The Rams need to keep their balance on offense and provide the sort of protection they gave Stafford on Monday night. If they do, the Rams should have no problem going into Tampa Bay and upsetting the odds.

Rams vs. Buccaneers Prediction: Rams 27, Buccaneers 23

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5)

What a game we have to close out the Divisional Round! The Bills and Chiefs both looked superb, dismissing their opponents on Wild Card Weekend. Last year in the Divisional Round, the Chiefs came out on top somewhat dominantly. However, the Bills are a much more well-rounded team this season.

Buffalo has the players on both sides of the ball to frustrate the Chiefs. We saw how capable the Bills are of moving the ball through the air and on the ground. Additionally, their defense squeezed the Patriots in a humiliating victory. Meanwhile, the Chiefs’ defense looked less convincing against the Steelers. Buffalo has built a team that is more than capable of going into Arrowhead and coming away with a victory.

Bills vs. Chiefs Prediction: Bills 30, Chiefs 27

Ben Rolfe is a Senior Managing Editor at Pro Football Network and is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can find him on Twitter @BenRolfePFN