The NFL postseason is well underway following Super Wild Weekend. It was an opening act that was a mix of home teams holding court with a stunning collapse by one of them -- the Dallas Cowboys yielding to the bully ball ways of the San Francisco 49ers at AT&T Stadium. And now as the page turns to Act 2, it's time for the divisional round to get underway with a slate of fiery matchups that will make it difficult to look away in either conference. It all brings us one week closer to seeing who'll face off at SoFi Stadium (assuming Super Bowl LVI is still held there as planned) on Sunday, Feb. 13.
With so many worthy teams still in the hunt for this year's Lombardi trophy, which potential matchup would be the most explosive and biggest draw for the NFL and its fans? There's no shortage of intriguing combinations, but below are five that would likely blow the roof off in Los Angeles.
5. Packers (1) vs. Bills (3)
Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs versus Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams -- talk about a headline that writes itself, and with a mountain of anticipation, seeing as this would be a matchup no one would be able to look away from. If you get up for popcorn, you'll miss a big play. If you scamper off to the restroom, you'll miss a big play, so forth and so on. These are two offenses that can blow the roof off of the scoreboard, and Allen is looking to solidify himself as the next big thing at quarterback in the NFL, but Rodgers is looking for a mulligan after failing to get the job done again last season; and with this potentially being his swan song in Green Bay.
The defenses for both teams will be under siege for 60 football minutes as the two QBs -- both of whom can also make plays with their legs -- launch a nuclear attack that would leave all of us with singed eyebrows. It also needs to be said that as furiously thirsty as Bills Mafia is for a return to glory, doing so at the expense of the Packers (who'll enter this matchup as favorites) would be icing on the cake. The Bills were close to taking the next step one year ago but narrowly lost to the Chiefs in January to end their hopes. In this matchup, they'll have not only toppled Mahomes (and more) to get here, but then get a chance at taking down Rodgers to win it all.
4. Titans (1) vs. Buccaneers (3)
For some reason, the Titans are still viewed as underdogs going into the postseason which, I feel, is wildly disrespectful to what they achieved in the absence of All-Pro running back Derrick Henry. The top-seeded Titans are led by head coach Mike Vrabel, a blue-collar guy who thrives on punching opposing teams in the mouth, and not much would be better than to see him square up to try and deliver a knockout blow to Tom Brady, a quarterback Vrabel helped win championships with in his days as a Pro Bowl linebacker in New England. Few know Brady's tendencies better than Vrabel, and that would set the stage for some good ole fashioned Patriot on Patriot crime at SoFi Stadium.
Of course, considering the lack of overall success of Bill Belichick's assistants against Brady (Brian Flores notwithstanding), the onus would be on Vrabel to scheme a game that uses Henry heavily, but even that's going to be a task, because for as alien as Henry is -- the Bucs defensive front bows to no running back. But, as noted, Henry isn't from Earth, so sign me up to see if he can punish the punishers, and if Vrabel can land the death blow against his former teammate.
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3. Bengals (4) vs. Rams (4)
Break out the ghost peppers because this would be a supremely spicy matchup. You're not only talking about two of the most exciting offenses in the NFL, but also teams who have defenses that can -- at any moment -- punish the opposing quarterback and offense. Joe Burrow has reached the next level after the Bengals reunited him with LSU teammate Ja'Marr Chase, who is now the frontrunner to land NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors after scorching defenses in his rookie season. But then there are the Rams, who brought in Matthew Stafford as an all-in measure to win the Super Bowl now and not later, and reminded everyone on Super Wild Card Weekend that the Los Angeles offense -- one that again features Cam Akers -- can be lethal.
Flip to the other side of the coin, and it'll be future Hall of Famers Von Miller and Aaron Donald leading a defense that includes All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey seeking to shut down Burrow, Chase and Joe Mixon, while Bengals defensive ace Trey Hendrickson licks his chops against a feast-or-famine quarterback in Stafford. It's all so exciting to think about, especially for the Rams, who would be only the second team in NFL history to host and participate in The Big Game, hoping they can mimic what the Buccaneers did last year in using that energy to help down a Bengals team that has the sharpest of teeth and claws.
2. 49ers (5) vs. Chiefs (2)
Speaking of rematches, here's another that would kick the tires and light the fires. The 49ers are only two short seasons removed from having been one quarter away from handing Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs a loss in Super Bowl LIV, and that's something that will forever be a black eye to Kyle Shanahan and especially quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, the latter being viewed as the primary reason for the loss (although the defense also collapsed in the fourth quarter). It's a revenge game of the highest order and one that will be carried by the mantra, "Win pretty, win ugly, just win."
For all of the Chiefs' deserved pageantry, it's not as if Mahomes and the Chiefs have proven themselves bully-proof, evidence being the aforementioned beatdown by the Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV. This would be a definitive matchup between finesse and brutality, with Deebo Samuel leading the way for San Francisco. Would the Chiefs defense be able to stop such a weapon, knowing they must also account for All-Pro tight end George Kittle? Would the 49ers have a chance at stopping a high-flying Chiefs offense that features their own All-Pro and future Hall of Fame tight end in Travis Kelce -- the battle at TE also taking center stage as the top two in the league try to outduel each other. Throw in the mind of Kyle Shanahan versus the combo of Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy and ... is it hot in here, or is it just me?
1. Chiefs (2) vs. Buccaneers (3)
Is there anything better than a heavyweight rematch? The first time Patrick Mahomes was given the nod as a full-time starter in the NFL, he went on a record-setting tear to lead the Chiefs to a playoff berth and a clash in the AFC Championship against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, losing in overtime thanks to a clutch throw from Brady to future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski. Mahomes would avenge his budding legacy by going on to win a Super Bowl and Super Bowl MVP honors, but he didn't again got a shot at Brady and Gronkowski in the postseason -- until last year.
Brady, Gronk and Leonard Fournette helped lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their first championship since 2002, with great help from a Todd Bowles-led defense that beat Mahomes like a dirty rug. Until Mahomes can best Brady when it matters most, he'll never have a shot at being the GOAT, and no matchup would arguably be a bigger draw than seeing the the two who own this year's Madden clash in another postseason fight to the finish.