NEW YORK– It all comes down to Sunday. The NFL Playoffs Divisional Weekend awaits with massive proportions looming as only eight teams remain. But, the headlines will be on Sunday January 22nd, with a spectacular two-game slate kicking off in the afternoon and concluding in the evening.
To start off the Sunday gridiron battles, Joe Burrow and the reigning AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals take on Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Then, ‘America’s Team’ the Dallas Cowboys head out to Levi’s Stadium for a matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.
So, a duo of general quarterbacks featuring Burrow versus Allen, followed by two iconic organizations in the Cowboys and 49ers, all chomping at the bit to secure their ticket to Championship Weekend… Nothing gets better than this.
3:00PM ET on CBS: #3 Cincinnati Bengals (12-4) @ #2 Buffalo Bills (13-3)
Buffalo is currently 5.5-point favorites over Cincinnati, with the total projecting at O/U 49.5. Burrow and Allen mark the only matchup in this year’s Divisional Weekend, with both starting QBs achieving at least 4,200 passing yards and 35 touchdowns this regular season.
Burrow vs. Allen.
With the game on the line, who are you taking? 👀 @NewEraCap
— NFL (@NFL) January 19, 2023
During the Bills-Bengals most recent matchup in Week 17 (cancelled), both teams joined together and bonded due to the devastating Damar Hamlin situation, where the 24-year-old suffered a cardiac arrest on-the-field. Thankfully, Hamlin is in good health, making a full recovery, and visiting the team facility “almost daily,” according to Bills head coach Sean McDermott.
Though the Bengals, led by fourth-year head coach Zac Taylor, are listed as road-underdogs, Joe ‘Cool’ Burrow doesn’t feel the pressure.
“I always enjoy going on the road; it’s just you and your guys,” Burrow said heading into Sunday. “Feels like it’s you against the world and that’s where we like to be.”
“I never feel like an underdog.”
And the numbers hold up. Burrow is 9-12-1, 12-7 (Against The Spread) as an underdog in his career. Additionally, he has covered eight consecutive games as an underdog.
For Buffalo, Allen mentioned this week how overcoming several regular season challenges as a team led the Bills to where they are today, preparing for Divisional Weekend.
“It gives you a more sturdy foundation. The more struggle, the more adversity that you can see throughout the year, it just makes you that much stronger.”
“I think the one thing that changes around here is instead of being playoff-caliber, we gotta be championship-caliber,” he added.
Rightfully so, postseason football is where the stakes become high, facing top-tier opponents in sudden elimination. Regarding Allen in his playoff career, he stands 4-3, 2-5 ATS with 17 TD, three INT and eight fumbles.
Bengals Side: Cincinnati finished the season ranked as one of the most complete, well-versed units across the NFL on both sides of the ball – On Offense: Top Eight in Points Scored & Total Yards – On Defense: Top Seven in Points Allowed & Total Takeaways.
In their last ten games, the Bengals are 9-1, 7-2-1 ATS, averaging 26.9 points per game.
Bills Aspect: Buffalo’s path to a Super Bowl begins and ends with the performance of Josh Allen, especially when it comes to protecting the football. This season combined with their 34-31 Wild Card win over the Miami Dolphins, Allen totaled 16 interceptions paired with 16 fumbles.
No winning recipe in January-February football, however; Buffalo is on a heater, riding an eight-game winning streak, 4-4 ATS.
PICK: Bengals +5.5, Over 49.5
6:30PM ET on FOX: #5 Dallas Cowboys (12-5) @ #2 San Francisco 49ers (13-4)
The red-hot 49ers, on an 11-game win streak, head into Sunday slated as 3.5-point favorites over the Cowboys, with the total estimating O/U 46.5. A Playoff Rematch is set to go down as last year’s Wild Card weekend featured San Francisco ending Dallas’ season in a 23-17 stunning-thriller.
Remember how crazy the ending of last year's 49ers-Cowboys playoff game was? 😱
— NFL (@NFL) January 19, 2023
“That’s a scar, that one hurts and it will hurt for the rest of my career,” Cowboys QB Dak Prescott said. “It will be a motivation throughout my career.”
“Knowing the team that they have, the offense they have, they’re (49ers) on fire. Longest win streak in the league right now… It’s going to be important for us to have a great week of preparation and just get ready for it,” he added.
Though preparation will be needed to stop San Francisco, Prescotts’ key component is minimizing turnovers and remaining poised in the pocket. In his last four games, Prescott has thrown for nine touchdowns, one rushing TD, along with four interceptions. The Cowboys are 3-1 in that span and 2-1-1 ATS.
Now, in the Bay Area, 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy has taken the NFL by storm, beginning 6-0 as a starter, (5-1 ATS), throwing 13 TD with four INT. The 24-year-old, out of Iowa State University, known as Mr. Irrelevant for being the final selection in this year’s NFL Draft, has a shot at more history – no rookie starting quarterback has reached a Super Bowl.
“You got to be on point,” Purdy said leading up to Sunday. “Once you get those matchups and opportunities to capitalize on, you gotta do it, especially in the NFL, playoff football. I put that on myself.”
Cowboys Side: Including Dallas’ 31-14 Wild Card victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past Monday, the Cowboys eclipsed their seventh game this season of compiling 400 yards on offense. In games where they put up 400 offensive yards or more, Dallas is 6-1, 4-3 ATS.
49ers Aspect: The prolific San Francisco defense allowed opponents to go over 400 yards of offense in only two games this year. As Nick Bosa and Fred Warner lead the charge, the 9ers defense throughout their 11-game win streak, has had two oppositions rush for over 100 yards.
In that span, San Francisco is 9-2 ATS, allowing 15.1 points per game.
PICK: 49ers -3.5, Under 46.5
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Robert Rizzo is a journalist and co-editor of Latino Sports.
Follow on Twitter: @RobertRiz994
Watch Sports with Rich live on Tuesday Nights at 8pm EST on The SLG Network/Youtube with host Rich Mancuso and cohost Robert Rizzo.
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