2018 Playoff Predictions: Divisional Round Edition
(6) Atlanta Falcons @ (1) Philadelphia Eagles
Falcons 20, Eagles 13
The road warrior Atlanta Falcons win the battle of the NFC birds in the early afternoon in chilly Philly. Matt Ryan will continue his efficient postseason form, the Eagles dont have an answer for Julio Jones for 4 full quarters, and eventually Nick Foles will make a mistake that the Eagles defense cant recover from. I think this game is close at half, maybe the Eagles even are winning at half by a score of 7-6 or so. Matty Ice and Co. figure out how to score once more, Desmond Trufant works all day on Alshon Jeffery and Deion Jones keeps Ajayi and Blount in check.
Falcons by at least 1 score.
(5) Tennessee Titans @ (1) New England Patriots
Patriots 31, Titans 21
This is the weekends most unbalanced game in most peoples minds and in all likelihood, wont be as close as my score above predicts. The Patriots defense isnt particularly stingy, particularly against the run and mobile QBs (NE ranked 20th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed/rush yards per game). Marcus Mariota, local QB-RB-WR-OL, and Derrick Henry, actual RB, will have some success early on against Belichick and I see this game being eerily close at halftime with the Pats up 17-14. The Pats will inevitably accelerate in the second half, score a quick TD or two via Timeless Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski or newcomer Brandin Cooks, forcing the Titans to move away from the ground attack.
Give me the Pats by a score or two at home off a bye.
(3) Jacksonville Jaguars @ (2) Pittsburgh Steelers
Steelers 24, Jaguars 10
Its a rematch of the abysmal week 5 matchup between these two AFC squads. If you follow football, you remember Ben Roethlisberger gifting the Jaguars defense 5 interceptions (Yes, really) and still-rusty LeVeon Bell only mustering 47 yards rushing against the eventual 21st ranked rushing defense.
Do things go the same way this week, with the Jags offense scoring 30 and holdings the Big 3 Bs to only 9 points? No.
Big Ben, Lev Bell and a half-healthy AB will find their way just fine at home at Heinz Field. Roles reverse as Blake Bortles tries to force the ball too much as the Steelers hone in to stop the run, and we see Bortles turn the ball over a few times early on in the first half. This game could be out of hand faster if not for the likes of AJ Bouye and Jalen Ramsey, who keep a slightly hampered AB in check. JuJu Smith-Schuster has a big day, this time to no ones surprise, and the Steelers win by a few scores.
(4) New Orleans Saints @ (2) Minnesota Vikings
Vikings 27, Saints 21
Its the beginning of the Minny Revenge Tour 2k18 for Vikings fans, while its the beginning of the #BringItHome tour for the Vikings players. Mike Zimmer wants the stadium to be the loudest stadium that the Vikings have ever played in (h/t UPI) and rowdy Viking fans will happily oblige against the organization that ruined dreams in 2009.
Case Keenum, Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs v. Cam Jordan, Marshon Lattimore, and Ken Crawley
Everson Griffen, Xavier Rhodes, Harrison Smith v. Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara/Mark Ingram, Michael Thomas
I think the Vikings have initial playoff jitters, and Brees and Co. win round 1(the first quarter). Keenum, Jerick McKinnon and Thielen figure it out in Q2 and the game is tied at 14 at the break. The Vikings make a statement to start the 2nd half behind a big play from Stefon Diggs, take their first lead of the game and never relinquish it. The Vikings defense behind Zims halftime speech corral Kamara, Xavier Rhodes keeps Michael Thomas on the ground and the Vikings win the 2nd half 13-0 before a final minute score from Brees brings the game closer.
Vikings by a score at home behind the fans energy and the resurgence of the NFLs best defense.
No matter if my predictions are Simpsons level accurate(shout out Matt Groenig) or completely backwards, this is shaping up to be an extremely fun weekend of football. Be sure to tune in and share your own predictions!
I am a 22 year old college graduate from Connecticut who has been a lifelong sports fan following the Minnesota Vikings as a die-hard fan.
Firm “Numbers Never Lie” believer. Tweet me your hot takes!