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Bucs Crush Eagles; A Cowboys Win Over 49ers Means Playoff Rematch - Dallas at Tampa Bay

Despite the surge of national experts making the "cute'' prediction in favor of the Niners, Dallas is the smart pick.

An expanded NFL playoffs field gets to begin a quest for Super Bowl LVI this weekend. SI offers a breakdown of each first-round postseason matchup, including, of course San Francisco at Dallas ... which can lead to Dallas at Tampa should the Cowboys handle the Niners ...

Las Vegas Raiders vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Saturday 3:30 p.m. CT | NBC

The Raiders won four straight to close the year; sources tell us if they somehow beat the Bengals here, interim coach Rich Bisaccia (the former Dallas assistant) might just keep the job. The challenge? The Joe Burrow-led Bengals (back in the playoffs for the first time since 2015) just pounded the Chiefs, and on the road in Week 11 pounded these same Raiders, 32-13. The Bengals are 5.5-point favorites and the smart pick.

UPDATE: The Bengals recorded a 26-19 win over the Raiders, with coach Rich Bisaccia - the former Cowboys assistant - maybe putting on a good-enough Las Vegas show to be considered for retention.

Saturday's wild card matchup allowed the Bengals their first postseason victory in more than three decades.

New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills

Saturday 7:15 p.m. | CBS

It's been more than 50 years since these AFC East rivals have met in the postseason, but of course they play each other twice a year otherwise - and fittingly, this year, they split the season series. The Patriots are about coach Bill Belichick. The Bills, who won the division, are about a talent-laded roster led by QB Josh Allen. Buffalo is a 4-point home favorite and the smart pick.

UPDATE: In Belichick's worst playoff loss ever, Josh Allen tossed five TD passes and the Bills, 47-17.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sunday 12 p.m. | FOX

Is Philly a different team than the one the Buccaneers beat, 28-22, early in the season? Maybe, in an improved way. Is Tom Brady's Tampa Bay bunch better? The Bucs closed strong, even with their injury and Antonio Brown issues. The defending Super Bowl champs are an 8.5-point favorite and the smart pick.

UPDATE: Tampa Bay 31, Philly 15, and it wasn't even that close.

You will remember Dallas losing a tight one in Week 1 at Tampa, and Dak Prescott whispering to Tom Brady, "“We’ll see y’all again. Trust me.”

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San Francisco 49ers vs. Dallas Cowboys

Sunday 3:30 p.m. | CBS

The 49ers are supposedly capable of playing "Bully Ball,'' but this idea of a "physical team vs. a finesse team'' is silly. The team with the lead can play grind-it-out ... and the team that needs to be explosive in the air can do that as well. The Cowboys have the No. 1 offense in football and a defense loaded with playmakers. Dallas needs crisp work from Dak Prescott and needs to figure out Deebo Samuel. Dallas - involved in the tightest spread of the weekend as 3.5-point favorite at home. Despite the surge of national experts making the "cute'' prediction in favor of the Niners, Dallas is the smart pick.

If Dallas wins, it's a trip to Tampa next weekend.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Sunday 7:15 p.m. | NBC

The Chiefs' struggles were an early-season mirage. They won nine of the last 10 games and led by QB Patrick Mahomes look fully capable of flipping a switch to reveal their Super Bowl pedigree. The Steelers are big underdogs and they know it - Pittsburgh lost, 36-10, to the Chiefs just a few weeks ago - and they are embracing it. How "big''? The Chiefs are favored by 12.5 points and are the smart pick.

Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams 

Monday 7:15 pm CT | NBC

This may be the perfect example of how “this is a QB game.” Arizona’s Kyler Murray is in his first career playoff game; Matthew Stafford in his fourth - but his first as quarterback of the Rams, and no, he’s never won a playoff game. The Rams roster seems especially built for this, has won nine of its last 10 games vs. NFC West and is a smart-bet 4-point favorite.

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