Jan. 15, 2018
NFL Divisional Predictions! Steelers avenge their loss?
We are set for an exciting divisional round after a fun wild card round that saw fifth seeded Tennessee Titans pull off an on-the-road upset against fourth seeded Kansas City Chiefs 22-21; the third time not being the charm for the Carolina Panthers who were unable to get it done in their 31-26 loss against the New Orleans Saints despite it coming down to the wire; the Atlanta Falcons travel across the country to dominate the Los Angeles Rams 26-13; and last but not least, the Jacksonville Jaguars survive the Buffalo Bills 10-3.
(6) Atlanta Falcons @ (1) Philadelphia Eagles, Saturday 4:35PM, NBC
The Atlanta Falcons went on the road and got an impressive win over the Los Angeles Rams and their high-powered offense. The Falcons offense was clicking on all cylinders, but that was in warm weather Los Angeles. The Falcons play in a warm weather/dome division with the only potential cold division game being Carolina unless they play early in the season. The Falcons haven’t played a game below 40 degrees all season, and the game in Philadelphia is forecasted to be around 50 degrees, expected to dip to about 46 degrees, with rain and winds ranging from 10-20 mph.
Meaning, the Falcons high flying pass game with Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Austin Hooper, and two solid pass catching backs in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman will be likely have to diminish due to weather in favor of the run game. And, when you compare the Eagles and Falcons run games here’s what you come up with:
The game is going to be played on wet grass, and that’s going to heavily favor the Eagles and hurt the Falcons who are accustomed to playing on the fast track that is turf. Thus, why I choose Philadelphia to pull off the upset.
My Projection: Eagles 20, Falcons 17
(5) Tennessee Titans @ (1) New England Patriots, Saturday 8:15PM ET, CBS
The Tennessee Titans are walking into a place where few teams make it out during the playoffs -- Foxborough, Massachusetts. The Patriots have posted a 15-4 home playoff record since 2003, and hasn’t lost a home playoff game since 2012 when they were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens 28-13. The Tennessee Titans won’t be the team to break their six-game winning streak despite the Patriots having a lot of in-house noise regarding the power struggle between owner Robert Kraft, star quarterback Tom Brady, and longtime head coach Bill Belichick. The Patriots run a disciplined organization, and have never allowed outside noise to disrupt their preparation or game planning.
My Projection: Patriots 34, Titans 17
(3) Jacksonville Jaguars @ (2) Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday 1:05PM, CBS
This will be the rematch of a week five beat-down that saw the young Jacksonville Jaguars defense force future Hall of Fame quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, throw FIVE interceptions and question whether he could still play football. Why do I say that? Because shortly after the game Roethlisberger said, “maybe I just don’t have it anymore”. The Jacksonville Jaguars have the formula to dominate the Pittsburgh Steelers, and that’s to shut down running back Le’Veon Bell. Bell had 47 yards on 15 carries, meanwhile wide receiver Antonio Brown had an amazing day (10 receptions for 157 yards). The Jaguars know they can allow the Steelers wide receivers to have solid days as long as they contain Le’veon Bell.
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 312 yards in the first match up against Jacksonville on 33 of 55 passing. We’ll likely never see Roethlisberger throw five interceptions again, and most certainly won’t see it in this matchup because the postseason is a completely different game than the regular season. But the Jaguars will pull off the upset against the loaded Steelers who will be emotionally invested into this game, which will lead to penalties and undisciplined football.
My Projection: Jaguars 20, Steelers 16
(4) New Orleans Saints @ (1) Minnesota Vikings, Sunday 4:40PM, FOX
This will be the most exciting game of the divisional round with two very similar teams facing off. Both dome teams, both teams have top10 defenses, and both are based on the run. But the New Orleans Saints have a huge advantage that Minnesota doesn’t have; Drew Brees. The Minnesota Vikings won’t be able to completely shut down the Saints offense. The Vikings will be able to slow the rushing attack as did the Carolina Panthers, only allowing Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara to a combined 45 yards on the ground. But what they couldn’t contain was the experience of a future Hall of Fame quarterback like Drew Brees who unleashed two touchdowns, 376 yards, while completing 66% of his passes. The experience of Brees will put the Saints over the edge because the teams are so similar that it’s going to come down to which quarterback will be able to make that extra play, and I’m taking Drew Brees over Case Keenum.
My Projection: Saints 24, Vikings 20