2024 NFL divisional round viewer’s guide ranking: Josh Allen-Patrick Mahomes showdown in Buffalo must-see

Welcome to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs! After a jam-packed Super Wild Card Weekend, just eight teams are left standing and each of them is trying to claw their way into the conference championships. The notable wrinkle for this week is that the No. 1 seeds are emerging from their first-round bye. They’re well-rested and ready to resume what has been a stellar season to this point and both the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens remain the betting favorites to win Super Bowl LVIII. 

That said, each of them has a fascinating matchup this weekend as they’ll face young quarterbacks who were able to orchestrate upsets in the opening round. Meanwhile, we also have the latest chapter in the rivalry between Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen on deck as well. As we get closer to kickoff this weekend, we’ve decided to collect every game and rank them, along with giving you everything you need to know to watch them.

All NFL odds via SportsLine consensus odds.

4. Buccaneers at Lions

Date: Sunday, Jan. 21 | Time: 3 p.m. ET
Location: Ford Field (Detroit)
TV: NBC | Stream: fubo (try for free)  
Follow: CBS Sports App 
Odds: Lions -6, O/U 48.5

Truth be told, there really is no bad game in this divisional round slate. So while Buccaneers-Lions may sit at the bottom of these rankings, it should be a fantastic game to watch unfold. Detroit is fresh off its first playoff victory since 1991 and will be hosting its second straight home playoff game after not having one for three decades. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers just blew out the defending NFC champion Eagles on Monday to advance. This game does feature two quarterbacks currently amid redemption arcs. Jared Goff and Baker Mayfield have previously been castoffs by other franchises only to lead their current teams into the second round of the playoffs. This matchup also has the possibility of being a tightly contested matchup. This season, the Buccaneers were an NFL-best 8-1 ATS on the road, so this game could stay within this six-point spread. There’s also a bit of a revenge narrative here as well with the Lions blowing out the Bucs back in Week 6, 20-6. This is a much different Tampa Bay team than earlier in the year, so we should have a back-and-forth affair. 

3. Texans at Ravens

Date: Saturday, Jan. 20 | Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
Location: M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore)
TV: ABC/ESPN | Stream: fubo (try for free)  
Follow: CBS Sports App 
Odds: Ravens -9, O/U 45

This is an “A+” quarterback matchup. On one side you have the presumptive league MVP in Lamar Jackson while C.J. Stroud, the Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite, stands on the other. Both have been box-office hits this season, and I’m fascinated to see how Stroud — who threw for three touchdowns against the Browns last week — can manage against this stout Baltimore defense. Meanwhile, Jackson is looking to bolster his playoff résumé and rid himself of a narrative that he withers in this setting. In his career, Jackson is 1-3 as a starter in the playoffs and has just a 68.3 passer rating. He’s never been to the conference championship, so a win here would turn the arrow in a positive direction of his playoff résumé and inch the Ravens a step closer to the Super Bowl. If he falters, it only adds more fuel to his playoff troubles and would elevate Stroud’s rookie season to all-time status if he pulls off another upset. 

2. Packers at 49ers

Date: Saturday, Jan. 20 | Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
Location: Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara, California)
TV: Fox | Stream: fubo (try for free)  
Follow: CBS Sports App 
Odds: 49ers -10, O/U 50

In a slate that is filled with a ton of great quarterbacks, the one I’m most excited to watch is Jordan Love. The Packers signal-caller had shades of prime Aaron Rodgers in that upset win in Dallas last weekend, throwing for 272 and three touchdowns. He was making off-platform throws, fitting the ball into tight windows, and never seemed rattled. Now, he’ll have to repeat that effort against the 49ers in Santa Clara. Could he possibly do it again in what would be the biggest upset of the season? While the arrow is already pointing up for Green Bay’s future with Love under center, an upset here would elevate this rebuild to new heights. As for the Niners, they have been the betting favorite to win the Super Bowl for most of the second half of the season, so seeing what they look like coming out of the bye week will also be fascinating. 

Of course, there’s also the coaching matchup that will loom large in this game. When 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator in Washington from 2010-2013, Packers head coach Matt LaFleur was his quarterbacks coach. They also had that same dynamic when they were in Atlanta with the Falcons from 2015-2016, so they have plenty of history with one another. 

1. Chiefs at Bills

Date: Sunday, Jan. 21 | Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Location: Highmark Stadium (Orchard Park, New York)
TV: CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (try for free) 
Follow: CBS Sports App 
Odds: Bills -2.5, O/U 46

I mean, there’s no way this game wasn’t going to be No. 1. Anytime Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen square off against one another, it’s a must-see event. The last time these quarterbacks went toe to toe in a playoff game was that infamous divisional round game during the 2021 playoffs where Kansas City tied the game with 13 seconds left in regulation and ultimately won in overtime. Earlier this season, Buffalo was able to beat the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium after receiver Kadarius Toney lined up offsides, which erased what would’ve been a go-ahead touchdown. Again, there’s drama every time these teams play one another, and we shouldn’t expect this game to be any different. 

This will be the seventh time that Mahomes and Allen faced one another the current head-to-head record is 3-3. However, Mahomes has won both playoff matchups, so Allen will be looking to notch his first postseason victory against his rival and will do so at Highmark Stadium. This is the first time in Mahomes’ playoff career that he’ll be on the road, adding another wrinkle. 

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