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The Trend

The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

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Divisional Weekend Predictions

Riley+ODell+prepares+to+watch+the+Green+Bay+Packers+with+her+boyfriend+Gary+Jackson+this+weekend.+
Gary Jackson
Riley O’Dell prepares to watch the Green Bay Packers with her boyfriend Gary Jackson this weekend.
Wild Card Weekend is in the past and it delivered multiple great games filled with storylines behind them, like what happened to Dallas? The Cowboys hadn’t lost at home in 16 games, and they come into last weekend as a favorite over the Green Bay Packers, who had many players making their playoff debuts. It seemed like the Cowboys never arrived to the game. Quarterback Dak Prescott threw two interceptions in the first half with one of them resulting in a pick six that would put Green Bay up 27-0, in the first half. Yikes. The Packers would ultimately win this game 48-32 as the lowest seed in the NFC division.
But how about a more positive storyline? Like quarterback CJ Stroud and the turnaround that he’s leading in Houston right now, Stroud lit up what was looked at as one of the best defenses in the NFL in Cleveland last week, throwing for over 200 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions, just in the first half. The Texans defense got involved as well with two interceptions leading to become pick sixes. While locking up the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, Stroud and the Texans are hitting their stride at the right time as they’ll need to be at their best from here on out.
Those are just a few of the biggest stories coming out of Wild Card Weekend that was filled with action. Now we’re in the Divisional, two #1 seeds are coming in rested and healthy as can be going into this weekend as they look to prove why they earned the bye week. Here are my picks for the Divisional round of the NFL Playoffs.
Ravens vs Texans (Saturday, Jan. 20 at 3:30 p.m.; streaming on ESPN/ABC)
Score prediction: Ravens – 31 Texans – 24
Starting off with who is believed to be the best team in the NFL, led by quarterback Lamar Jackson, the AFC’s #1 seed, the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens have been dominant this season as they went 13-4 and beat the likes of the 49ers, Lions, Browns, and many other teams. Jackson is all but guaranteed the MVP award as he’s thrown for over 3600 yards and 24 touchdowns and has the 4th highest Quarterback Rating (QBR) in the league.
A big part of this success has been that this is the best wide receiver core Jackson has ever had, led by rookie Zay Flowers, the receiver room is filled with talent in veteran receivers Odell Beckham Jr, and Rashad Bateman. Due to the talent at Jackson’s disposal, he hasn’t needed to rely on his legs nearly as much this season in comparison to seasons before. It also doesn’t hurt that the Ravens defense is ranked 6th in the league and second out of the teams still left in the playoffs.
However, the Houston Texans offense is on fire right now. Stroud and the Texans lit up the Browns for 31 offensive points last week, much because of the pinpoint throws Stroud was able to make and how much time his offensive line has gave him to work with. While the Texans are riding momentum, it can only go so far. It just feels as if this is the best opportunity the Ravens have had to make a deep playoff run. Stroud will show flashes of greatness in the first half especially, but Lamar and the Ravens are just too complete of a team. They’ll find Houston’s weak points and seize to exploit them while they make big plays on offense when they’re needed. The Texans will stick around for a little to make it competitive, but ultimately Baltimore will pull out the victory.
49ers vs Packers (Saturday, Jan. 20 at 7:15 p.m.; streaming on FOX)
Score prediction 49ers – 38 Packers – 21
It wasn’t until they faced off against Baltimore that most people would’ve regarded the San Francisco 49ers as the best team in the NFL. Going 12-5 on the year, there’s still a case they’re the most complete roster in the league, with skill position players like Christian McCaffery, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and more. The 49ers have the overall talent, the question is their quarterback Brock Purdy, regarding whether his actual talent level is being masked by all the talent he’s surrounded with. There isn’t any questioning his numbers though, over 4200 yards passing yards, 31, TDs, and he is 1st in QBR.
The Packers are coming off an outstanding performance against the Dallas Cowboys. Quarterback Jordan Love almost had a perfect passer rating against Dallas last week and has played better than most would have expected. The kicker for Green Bay though, is the youngest in the NFL, which will show their playoff inexperience against a competitive team in San Francisco. The Packers come in as 10-point underdogs and while their defense is good and Love looked great last week, the Niners are rested and ready to go as they beat the Packers.
Buccaneers vs Lions (Sunday, Jan. 21 at 2 p.m.; streaming on NBC)
Score prediction: Buccaneers – 21 Lions – 20
Both these teams are surprise stories this season. The Detroit Lions hadn’t seen a home playoff game in 30 years before last week as they beat the Rams. Detroit’s running game is their key to success if they want to make a deep playoff run, led by their running back duo David Montgomery and rookie Jahmyr Gibbs. The two backs have a combined 23 touchdowns on the season as they’ve been a perfect 1-2 punch in the Lions backfield.
The quarterbacks on both teams are proving why they belong this season, Jared Goff of the Lions got traded to Detroit a few years ago and the first year that the Rams were without him they won a Superbowl. For Tampa Bay’s Baker Mayfield, drafted #1 overall in 2018 by the Browns, expectations were very high for him to turn around the Brown’s franchise, after having injuries and lacking consistency in his four years there, he would bounce around two more NFL teams during last season. However, Mayfield has found a home in Tampa as he’s been very productive this season throwing for over 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns.
In what looks to be a low scoring game, the difference maker will be the defenses. While Tampa’s defense is ranked 7th in the league, Detroit has had a bottom 10 defense this season. If the Buccaneers star receiver Mike Evans and their offense can get a lead early, they can steal a victory. Tampa Bay should win a close one as Detroit will try to make a comeback too late in the game.
Chiefs vs Bills (Sunday, Jan. 21 at 5:30 p.m.; streaming on CBS)
Scoring prediction: Bills – 35 Chiefs – 31
While there are two powerhouses playing on Saturday in the two #1 seeds, this is the game that everyone’s waiting for. Quarterbacks Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes will face off once again in a rivalry game. When these two players matchup, it almost never disappoints the fans.
The Kansas City Chiefs started their run for back-to-back titles last week by dominating the Dolphins in very cold conditions. The Chiefs are once again preparing for frigid conditions as Buffalo has been getting dumped with snow so much, they’ve offered $20 an hour for any fans who want to come shovel snow off the stands in last week’s game. There won’t be too much risk of snow for Sunday’s game, but it’ll still be very cold. This will also be Patrick Mahomes’s first playoff game not playing in his home teams stadium, However, the weather won’t be his biggest concern, as Josh Allen has been playing his best ball during the most important part of the season. Both teams will score many points offensively, but the Bills will get defensive stops late in the game to secure the victory against the rival Chiefs.
Preston Palm is a third-year communication major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. 
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About the Contributors
Preston Palm, Senior Writer
Preston is a third-year Communication major from Boone, North Carolina.   Experience with The Trend: Senior Writer: Aug. 2023 - present Contributing Writer: Aug. 2022 - July 2023
Gary Jackson, Sports Editor
Gary is a third-year communication major from Kingston. He works as a resident assistant (RA) and as a host for the Drover Talk podcast at USAO. Gary began writing for The Trend in January 2022, and has interned with the Madill Record and Marietta Monitor newspapers during the past two summers. When Gary isn’t attending class and working, you can watch him making the game-winning catch at the ultimate frisbee game, hanging out with friends, or visiting with his family. Experience with The Trend: Sports Editor: Nov. 2023 - present Senior Writer: Dec. 2022 - Nov. 2023 Contributing Writer: Jan. 2022 - Dec. 2022