Predictions for 2018-19 NFL Divisional Round

By Jesse Brawders
Jan. 11, 2019

AFC

(1) Chiefs (12-4) vs (6) Colts (10-6)

This is surprisingly my favorite game this weekend. First, there is the six seed Indianapolis Colts who few thought would get out of Houston. Their rebound since starting 1-5 is astounding. Most of the credit for this recovery should go to HC Frank Reich. He has motivated this team to be better than what they were the first third of the season. QB Andrew Luck is a possible Comeback Player of the Year candidate, after missing last season with a shoulder injury. But, the MVPs of the entire Colts team is RB Marlon Mack and LB Darius Leonard. For the AFC West Champions, this season is a surprise just getting a first-round bye. Not many fans predicted QB Patrick Mahomes to throw for over 50 touchdowns and be a MVP candidate. I have already talked about Mahomes' greatness in past posts, but he is just stunning. The main matchups I cannot wait to witness is Mack vs the Chiefs' DL and if the Colts' secondary can keep up with Mahomes.

Prediction: Chiefs 38 Colts 27

(2) Patriots (11-5) vs (5) Chargers (12-4)

LA Chargers QB Philip Rivers is 0-7 against Tom Brady in his career. That is a stat that can bet most football fans wouldn't believe, but it is true. It seems like the Patriots are Rivers' kryptonite. With a loss this weekend, Rivers will have one child per loss to Brady. Going away from Rivers, this Chargers team looked decent, but definitely not 100%. The ground game was below par, having only 89 total rushing yards. When you have talent like Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler on your team, you should average a minimum of 100 rushing yards a game. For the Patriots, the key in my opinion is managing their backs. If they want to fully run the ball hard, have Sony Michel in the huddle who has been consistent when healthy. For more play-action plays, James White is your guy. Their diversity on offense is insane, and their defense is better than the average team. I would have picked LA if they were defiant in their win last week, but they scared me, maybe even a little too much.

Prediction: Patriots 27 Chargers 20

NFC

(1) Saints (13-3) vs (6) Eagles (9-7)

I was not prepared to predict this game, purely because I was thinking the Eagles would lose in Chicago and the Saints would be welcoming the Cowboys to New Orleans. But, here we are. Philadelphia was lucky, I think most football fans outside of Pennsylvania can agree with that statement. QB Nick Foles has another comeback going, but I am not sure if it will continue. The Eagles' defense was solid in Chicago, but the Saints' offense is a whole different breed. They have one of the best offenses in the league with star players including QB Drew Brees, RBs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, and WR Michael Thomas. The Saints also have the advantage of playing at home, in perhaps one of the best atmospheres in professional sports. Can Foles keep up his playoff magic? No.

Prediction: Saints 40 Eagles 17

(2) Rams (13-3) vs (4) Cowboys (10-6)

How 'bout them Cowboys! In all seriousness, there was a good chance if the Seahawks even had a backup kicker, Seattle would be traveling to LA. Dallas did play well, especially RB Ezekiel Elliott. My main draw from the game was their defense. It wasn't super, but it was good enough for the game. They would give different looks and it did mess with Russell Wilson. The Rams have been two different teams throughout the season. During parts of the year, they were definitively one of the best teams in the league. But at other times they appeared to be a wild-card team at best. A big question this how RB Todd Gurley III will perform after being out of action for a couple of weeks. It might be a question of which running back performs the best in the stress of playoffs.

Prediction: Cowboys 21 Rams 10

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