Numbers Don’t Lie: Predicting the 2021 NFL Playoffs Division Round

Grant Mitchell

32 teams began their season with dreams of a Super Bowl run, and just a few months later, there are only eight hopeful candidates still in play.

The top seeds in each of the conferences will make their debut in this year's postseason over the coming weekend, while a few of the hottest teams in the league will carry their momentum over from the first round.

After correctly predicting four of the six matchups in the opening round, the Cold Hard Football Facts Quality Stats Power Rankings project will happen in the Divisional Round of the 2021 Playoffs.

Cincinnati Bengals W, Tennessee Titans L

Despite being the number-one seed in the AFC, the Tennessee Titans are the lowest-ranked team in the power rankings left in the playoffs. 

However, this could be somewhat misrepresentative if Derrick Henry is to return as is expected and thus is not as accurate of a predictor as other statistics.

With that being said, the Bengals’ offense has been playing lights out lately, and both Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase have legitimate cases as to why they are top-five at their position in the league. 

The Bengals’ offensive line will always be a cause for concern. Still, suppose their defense can continue to apply pressure to the opposing quarterback as it has thus far. In that case, this miracle run of the AFC North’s regular bottom-feeders could easily continue through championship weekend.

San Francisco 49ers L, Green Bay Packers W

CHFF likes the Packers in what looks like it the most competitive game of the playoff weekend. The Packers claimed the NFC’s top seed with a 13-3 record and are tied for seventh in the power rankings, just ahead of the Niners in 11th. 

Their biggest benefit will, of course, be Aaron Rodgers, who helped his team top the chart in Real Quarterback Rating and become the only team to go 8-0 at home this season.

Their opponent will be banged up, with injuries to Nick Bosa, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Fred Warner serving as obvious scares. However, all three have been able to practice in a limited fashion. 

San Francisco plays with an overwhelming physicality, especially on the offensive side of the football, which will hold up well in the cold temperatures of Lambeau Field. This game could come down to who has the ball last, and if it does, the power rankings feel that this will be Green Bay.

Los Angeles Rams L, Tampa Bay Buccaneers W

A rematch of last year’s NFC Championship Game? Why not! CHFF’s metrics place Tampa Bay as the best team in the league, despite injury concerns of their own. 

Last year’s Super Bowl champions managed to breeze past the Philadelphia Eagles in the opening round of the playoffs. They are favored to come out on top once again, riding behind superstar 44-year-old quarterback Tom Brady.

The Rams were one of two teams to notch upsets, based on the power rankings, last weekend with a monstrous blowout of the Arizona Cardinals. LA can look like the best team in the league for one quarter and like a team that does not belong in the playoffs the next, making them the team with the greatest boom-or-bust potential still standing. 

They are rightful underdogs in the upcoming contest, but having already beaten the Bucs once this season, it is impossible to count them out.

Buffalo Bills W, Kansas City Chiefs L

These two teams have a history with one another, starting with a Chiefs victory in last year’s AFC Championship Game, and most recently, a Bills win back in Week Five. 

Buffalo is the second-highest team in the power rankings. The Chiefs are back in seventh; Buffalo is also heading in on a higher note, having annihilated the New England Patriots 47-17. 

They are almost totally reliant on their quarterback, Josh Allen, to deliver them to the promised land, but on this day, he is capable of this feat. On the other side, Kansas City is back in a power position despite having a “down year” this season. 

The Chiefs’ defense tightened as the season progressed, while Patrick Mahomes and the offense seem to have found their groove, especially off the back of a 42-21 demolition of the Pittsburgh Steelers. This contest will probably produce the highest scoring total, but the power rankings like the Bills will come out on top.