NFL Divisional Round 2024: Key Matchups to Watch, Betting Odds, TV

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Welcome to the best weekend in football.

Between Saturday and Sunday, four games will kick off, determining who plays in the AFC and NFC championship games. Of the eight teams remaining, seven won their divisions, while the Green Bay Packers rose from a 3–6 start to reach this point after trouncing the Dallas Cowboys last weekend.

So who advances to the doorstep of Super Bowl LVIII? Let’s look at each game, and discuss the underlying matchups that could make the difference.

Houston Texans (11–7) vs. Baltimore Ravens (13–4)

When/TV: 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPN/ABC/ESPN+
Moneyline: Texans (+350) | Ravens (-500)
Spread: HOU +9.5 (-110) | BAL -9.5 (-110)
Total: 43.5 — Over (-110) | Under (-110)

Quarterback Lamar Jackson and running back Gus Edwards are both dangerous factors in Baltimore’s ground attack.

Jessica Rapfogel/USA TODAY Sports

Key matchup: Texans’ run defense vs. Ravens’ ground attack

While Lamar Jackson is likely to win his second NFL MVP award, the Ravens are still built on their rushing attack, Jackson included. This season, Baltimore led the league with 2,661 rushing yards, while ranking third with 4.9 yards per carry.

However, the Texans pose a unique threat. Houston has been excellent against the run throughout the year, despite being in a division with Derrick Henry, Jonathan Taylor and Travis Etienne Jr. The Texans are third in yards per carry allowed at 3.5, and have permitted the sixth-fewest rushing yards at 1,643.

Green Bay Packers (11–4) vs. San Francisco 49ers (12–5)

When/TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, Fox
Moneyline: Packers (+370) | 49ers (-500)
Spread: GB +9.5 (-110) | SF -9.5 (-110)
Total: 50.5 — Over (-110) | Under (-110)

Brock Purdy threw for 4,280 yards and 31 touchdown passes in 2023.

Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today sports

Key matchup: Packers’ pass rush vs. Brock Purdy

If the Packers have a chance to pull the upset, they’re going to need negative plays and turnovers from the 49ers. This could happen in the passing game. Green Bay has been an excellent pass-rushing team, ranking sixth with a 24.3% pressure rate.

While Brock Purdy sits a middling 16th in pressure rate against at 20.1%, he holds the ball. Purdy is tied for the fourth-longest time per dropback at 2.6 seconds. If Purdy doesn’t make quick decisions, the Green Bay front four could cause issues. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10–8) vs. Detroit Lions (13–5)

When/TV: 3 p.m. ET Sunday, NBC
Moneyline: Buccaneers (+225) | Lions (-300)
Spread: TB +6.5 (-110) | DET -6.5 (-110)
Total: 48.5 — Over (-118) | Under (-110)

Baker Mayfirled will have his sights on receiver Chris Godwin Sunday.

AP Photo/Adrian Kraus

Key matchup: Baker Mayfield’s deep shots vs. Lions’ secondary

The Lions have been a feel-good story all season, and now they’re a legitimate contender. However, if they have a glaring weakness, it’s the pass defense. And nothing has been more problematic than allowing deep shots, with Detroit permitting a league-worst 2,895 air yards.

Meanwhile, the Buccaneers have the receivers to exploit this problem. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are both elite talents, and Mayfield has looked long this year, ranking 11th in air yards with 2,103. 

Kansas City Chiefs (12–6) vs. Buffalo Bills (12–6)

When/TV: 6:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Moneyline: Chiefs (+120) | Bills (-183)
Spread: KC +2.5 (-110) | BUF -2.5 (-118)
Total: 45.5 — Over (-110) | Under (-110)

Forget about the marquee matchup of quarterbacks; the key to a Chiefs victory will be how Chris Jones and Co. defend against James Cook and the Bills’ ground game.

Key matchup: Bills’ rushing attack vs. Chiefs’ defensive front

For Buffalo to finally knock off Kansas City in the postseason, James Cook and Josh Allen running the ball is paramount. The Bills have surged down the stretch in this regard and for the season, and are tied for eighth in yards per carry at 4.3.

Conversely, the Chiefs have the NFL’s second-ranked defense, but the run has been a problem. Kansas City is 24th-best in yards per carry against at 4.5. Look for coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to be aggressive downhill as he was against the Miami Dolphins last weekend, with Miami limited to 76 rushing yards.

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