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A Falcons fan’s rooting guide for the NFC and AFC Divisional Round games

Who do we cheer for during these troubling times?

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The 2021 season is over for the Atlanta Falcons but there remains to be played some more games among other teams in the NFL. This weekend is the Divisional Round for the NFC and AFC, with the winner of all four games moving on to next weekend’s conference championships.

We’re all Falcons fans here. That’s likely why you’re even reading this article, so your fandom won’t be questioned. But as fans of this great sport, when watching these four games, we’ll likely have a team that we want to win and move on, right? So, let’s look at the matchups and decide who we should root for. Obviously, this is based on my opinion alone so you may disagree, which is completely fine. You can check out all of the lines for this weekend’s games courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Bengals vs. Titans (Jan. 22 at 4:30PM ET)

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This game will likely have the most disagreements here, as the Tennessee Titans have a lot of ties to the Falcons. At the top, Falcons’ head coach Arthur Smith was a part of the Titans’ staff from 2011-2020 in a plethora of positions, such as defensive quality control coach, offensive quality control coach, offensive line/tight ends assistant, assistant tight ends coach, tight ends coach and offensive coordinator. So if you ask him, he may want them to win. Additionally, there’s some former Falcons’ players on the roster, such as Julio Jones and D’Onta Foreman.

On the other side, the Cincinnati Bengals have been terrible for the majority of my life, as last week they won their first playoff game in 31 years. The Bengals are an exciting, young team full of some fun offensive weapons. They also have a former Falcons’ player of their own in safety Ricardo Allen, who spent several years in the Atlanta secondary.

Maybe most importantly, the Titans losing will have the second round pick they shipped to the Falcons landing a little earlier than it would if they won.

Verdict: I’m rolling with the Bengals. I’m not positive in which team will ultimately win, as the Titans will be getting Derrick Henry back who is fun to watch. But I really like the underdog story the Bengals have and if their offense can stay hot, they’ll be tough to beat.

49ers vs. Packers (Jan. 22 at 8:15PM ET)

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To be honest, this is one of those games where I don’t really care who wins. The Green Bay Packers have arguably the best home-field advantage in the league, which always makes it hard to play there. The San Francisco 49ers have Kyle Shanahan who is either admired or hated depending on which Falcons’ fan you ask.

Both teams have ties to the Falcons on their roster, such as:

  • OL Daniel Brunskill (49ers)
  • OL Tom Compton (49ers)
  • C Alex Mack (49ers)
  • WR Mohamed Sanu Sr. (49ers)
  • LB De’Vondre Campbell (Packers)
  • QB Kurt Benkert (Packers)

Verdict: I’m pretty sure the Packers will win, so I’m going to pull for the 49ers in this one. Mainly, it’s due to Alex Mack, who is one of the best centers in Falcons’ history and is just an easy player to pull for.

Rams vs. Buccaneers (Jan. 23 at 3:00PM)

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These two teams already faced earlier this season, with the Los Angeles Rams winning 34-24 at home. The difference in this game is that it’s in Tampa and it’s Tom Brady. Hate him or love him—and it’s likely you hate him—you have to admit he’s a different animal when it’s win or go home. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers became the first team to ever win a Super Bowl on their home field, which occurred in 2020 — Brady’s first season in Tampa. That’s pretty incredible.

There’s a couple ties to the Falcons on both teams, such as Rams’ kick returner Brandon Powell and former Falcons’ return specialist Kenjon Barner, who is on the Tampa’s practice squad.

Verdict: This is another game where I don’t really care who wins, but I will always root against Tom Brady. It’s going to be a tough matchup for the Rams, even with the injuries the Buccaneers currently have, but I feel like Tampa will come out on top. I just hope they don’t.

Bills vs. Chiefs (Jan. 23 at 6:30PM ET)

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Personally, this is the game that I’m most excited to watch. Both teams have explosive offenses which could make this one an all-time classic playoff game. Also, there really isn’t any notable ties to the Falcons from either team, so this one is more about preference. Do you want to see the Kansas City Chiefs continue to build a legacy with Patrick Mahomes or do you want to see the Buffalo Bills start their own legacy with Josh Allen?

Verdict: For me, I’m going with the Bills. The thought of a potential AFC Championship between the Bills and Bengals excites me, as both teams have struggled to make a name for themselves throughout my entire life.

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