Saturday, January 13, 2018

NFL Divisional Playoff Predictions

2-2 last week, the Titans' upset of the Chefs being a nice surprise. As always, wager responsibly.

Saturday 1/13 1:40 PM Atlanta Falcons (11-6) (-2.5) at Philadelphia Eagles (13-3):  This should be a good game between two pretty evenly matched teams. Both the Falcons and the Eagles feature solid, well-balanced offenses paired with aggressive, stingy defenses (both defenses finished top-10 in most major defensive categories). Though the Eagles were a better team with Carson Wentz starting at QB, Nick Foles is a solid veteran, and probably the best backup in the league. After watching them travel cross-country to dismantle the Rams' number-one offense, though, Atlanta seems to have momentum. Unless it's a full-on blizzard, I'd take the Falcons and the points.

Final Score:  Falcons 27, Eagles 17.

5:15 PM Tennessee Titans (10-7) at New England Patriots (13-3) (-13.5):  Second only to watching Emperor Snowflake get frog-marched out of the White House to spend twenty more years in Leavenworth before dying poor, broke, and alone, nothing would give me more pleasure than to watch Little Tommy Tuck Rule and his Facking Patsies get their shit pushed in by any other team, every goddamned time. Unfortunately, they have the luck of the devil and the refs in their pocket. The Titans do have excellent offensive and defensive lines, and they did just knock out the Chefs in Peckerhead Arrowhead Stadium, but unless they can pressure Tuck Rule enough to make some mistakes early on, and then hold on for the inevitable fourth-quarter comeback, it's probably going to be ugly.

Final Score:  Patsies 34, Titans 20.

Sunday 1/14 10:00 AM Jacksonville Jaguars (11-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3) (-7):  I don't hate the Steelers quite as much as the Patsies, but this is another one where I have a clear favorite. But given their lackluster performance last week at home against the hapless Bills, the Jaguars probably don't have much of a prayer in Pittsburgh, although the Steelers turned the ball over five times in a 30-9 loss in Pittsburgh on October 8th. All-world WR Antonio Brown is recuperating from a partially torn calf muscle and an illness, so if Jacksonville is going to have any chance in this, it's going to be with their top-rated pass defense shutting Brown and the other Steelers receivers down.

Final Score:  Steelers 31, Jaguars 13.

1:40 PM New Orleans Saints (12-5) at Minnesota Vikings (13-3) (-5):  The Vikings have done more with less than any team in the NFL this year, and it has paid off well for them. After season-ending injuries to top RB pick Dalvin Cook, and QBs Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater, journeyman QB Case Keenum stepped into the proverbial "game manager" role and led Minnesota to a 13-3 record. Keenum's 3,547 passing yards and 22-7 TD-INT ratio are career highs for him, but the Vikes' real strength is their defense, which was #1 in the league for points allowed (15.8 ppg). The Saints are much improved from last year, especially on defense, and rookie back Alvin Kamara is an exciting, dynamic player who should win Offensive Rookie of the Year. These teams met in Week 1 in Minnesota, and the Vikings won 29-19. The outcome this time will probably be much the same, though the Saints might beat the spread.

Final Score:  Vikings 24, Saints 20.

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