Super Wildcard Weekend didn't exactly live up to its billing last week, with just two of the six play-off games in the expanded format resulting in close encounters.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Las Vegas Raiders found themselves in the post-season despite recording negative point differentials, while the Philadelphia Eagles couldn't muster a single win over a team with a winning record heading into their clash with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Eagles' wings were clipped earlier than many had anticipated by the Super Bowl champions, while the Steelers also found themselves hopelessly overmatched by the Bucs' victims in last year's NFL decider, the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Raiders did at least manage to keep tabs on a Bengals outfit that remains a work in progress, but the Dallas Cowboys' clash with the San Francisco 49ers provided arguably the only highlight of a weekend traditionally rammed full of them.
Even that match-up had a sense of inevitability about it, with the Cowboys doing what they've done best in the last couple of decades, namely disappointing in the post-season.
The divisional round does promise to throw up more competitive fare, with the 49ers the biggest outsiders in the respective match markets. However, their task is far from insurmountable, with the betting implying they have a 31-32% chance of upsetting the Green Bay Packers.
Tennessee Titans v Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday, 9.30pm. Handicap: Titans - 4
The Tennessee Titans clinched the top seed in the AFC without ever looking like the best team in the division.
The Titans racked up a 7-2 home record during the regular season and enjoy home advantage, but a bigger plus is the return of running back Derrick Henry, who has been absent since breaking his foot in October.
Saturday's game marks the first time Henry, AJ Brown and Julio Jones are fit to start since their 27-3 humiliation of the Chiefs in the same month.
Even if Henry is rusty on his comeback, he's likely to act as a powerful decoy for the Titans offence.
The key match-up here looks to be the Bengals passing offence v the Titans pass defence.
The Titans are the better balanced side, with greater strength in depth, but Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase pose a potentially lethal threat.
The Bengals' fortunes rest on their performances, but the Titans are likely to edge what could prove a close affair against a side that petered out in their win over the limited Raiders.
Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, 1.15am. Handicap: Packers - 5.5
Lambeau Field is a tough place to travel to for any quarterback, but it could prove particularly inhospitable for Jimmy Garoppolo this weekend. Garoppolo has a banged-up shoulder to add to his already troubled thumb and those injuries are likely to be felt more acutely given the frigid temperatures on the shores of Lake Michigan.
The Packers are Super Bowl favourites, but they've benefitted from playing in a desperately weak NFC North with timid Bears, toothless Lions and a Vikings roster more plundered than plundering.
Their points differential of +78 also isn't what you might expect of a side with a much-vaunted explosive offence spearheaded by Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams.
If the Packers have a soft underbelly, and they do, it's in their run defence. The 49ers are likely to concentrate on rushing and the tactics they used successfully in their win over the Cowboys.
If they can establish a lead, they can shock the Packers, but the version of Garoppolo that we saw after he sustained his shoulder injury in Dallas isn't one you'd want to bridge a deficit. Can the 49ers win the game having to rely so heavily on rushing? Probably not.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, 8pm. Handicap: Buccaneers - 3
It's difficult to glean anything worthwhile from the Bucs' and the Rams' wins last weekend, such was the paucity of the opposition. The Cardinals' late-season freefall saw them plummet to a level the Eagles have occupied all season.
Despite his years, Tom Brady remains a superior quarterback to Matthew Stafford and he's certainly a more consistent one than his Rams counterpart, who tied with Jaguars signal caller Trevor Lawrence for the most interceptions thrown in the regular season.
If the Bucs have an edge - and they are favourites to advance - it could be flipped by game-time decisions over key men protecting Brady in the offensive line. The participation of right tackle Tristan Wirfs and centre Ryan Jensen remains in doubt, which is a problem for the Super Bowl champions given a potent Rams pass rush featuring human wrecking ball Aaron Donald.
If this is the most difficult divisional game to call, you're compelled to go for the outsider of the two, which is the Rams. But the Bucs' personnel call prior to kick-off is set to prove key.
5 TDs each from Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen during #SuperWildCard— NFL (@NFL) January 20, 2022
Now, they meet up in the Divisional Round. You better have that popcorn ready. 🍿
📺: #BUFvsKC -- Sunday 6:30pm ET on CBS
📱: NFL app pic.twitter.com/5pI9yomqyg
Kansas City Chiefs v Buffalo Bills, Sunday,11.30pm, Handicap: Chiefs - 3
The NFL has saved the best for last, with the winners of this game poised to usurp the Packers as Super Bowl favourites, regardless of how Rodgers and Co perform in Wisconsin.
The rivalry between Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, and Josh Allen and the Bills looks destined to be the league's great match-up over the next decade.
The Chiefs secured the bragging rights in last year's AFC Championship game, but the Bills confirmed themselves as a team in the ascendancy with a win in Kansas earlier this season.
Allen may not have the level of natural talent that Mahomes possesses, but he's made giant strides, while his opposite number has arguably regressed this season, though he's still capable of brilliant performances.
Both teams had major wobbles earlier in the season on both sides of the ball, but the Bills' superior pass defence and more impressive overall metrics can swing this game their way, despite their underdog status.