After a very good wildcard weekend, we now look forward to the divisional round which has some promising games. Let’s talk about who I think moves on the the conference championships. We’ll start in the AFC:
Chiefs (-5.5) vs Colts @ Arrowhead Stadium
This game is one of my most anticipated games of next week, I think it’s gonna be a really good one. The Chiefs are a very good team with one of, if not the, most explosive offenses in the league. Mahomes has been amazing and should be the MVP, and Kelce and Hill have been elite as well. The loss of Kareem Hunt has hurt them and will continue to, as well as their lack of a defense. The Colts have been one of my favorite teams to watch this year as well, after starting 1-5 they have had a historic turnaround to end up where they are now. The Colts offensive line, led by rookie Quenton Nelson, has allowed the fewest sacks in the league and Andrew Luck has been thriving behind the line. He’s returned to being one of the leagues best QBs. The Colts also have a solid run game behind Marlon Mack and a solid defense anchored by the NFL’s tackle leader, rookie Darius Leonard.
Prediction: This will be a great game but I think the difference maker will be the Colts run game up against the Chiefs 31st ranked run defense. Colts win
Patriots (-4.5) vs Chargers @ Gillette Stadium
A matchup of two veteran QB’s in what I expect to be a very very good game. The Patriots are here every year and every year I count them out and they prove me wrong. The Chargers are my dark horse for the Super Bowl out of the AFC right now. They are an extremely balanced team with a solid passing attack led by Rivers and Allen, a solid run game behind Melvin Gordon and a pretty good defense featuring rookie safety Derwin James. The Patriots are obviously very well coached and it’s hard to count out Tom Brady. Even in a somewhat down year Brady still performs well week after week, and he always thrives in the playoffs, as does the Patriots defense.
Prediction: This will be a very close game as well, but in the end I think the Chargers are the better overall, more balanced team. Chargers win.
Now on to the NFC side of the bracket:
Rams (-7) vs Cowboys @ The Coliseum
This should be a very interesting game featuring possibly the best defense still in the playoffs against one of the best offenses. Also, two of the leagues top running backs going at it. The Cowboys have been a (not so) pleasant surprise this year. Since they traded for WR Amari Cooper they have gone 7-2 and have looked like a new team. The defense has been good all year but the offense came alive. Dak Prescott has looked so much better with Cooper to throw to and it has opened up the run game even more. The Rams went 2-2 in the last 4 games of the year, losing to the Bears and Eagles and beating the 49ers and Cardinals. They definitely have to get back to playing the football they were playing earlier in the year. Jared Goff was a MVP candidate in the middle of the year and has since sizzled down, but they need him to come back alive this postseason. He has plenty of weapons to utilize; Brandon Cooks, Robert Woods and most importantly, Todd Gurley.
Prediction: Once again I see this being a close game, as I believe just about every game in the weekend will be. The game will be decided by the Rams defense coming alive and Aaron Donald playing a big part. Rams win.
Saints (-9) vs Eagles @ Mercedes-Benz Superdome
My most anticipated game of the weekend for obvious reasons. These teams played earlier in the year and the Saints won big, 48-7. This Eagles team is a different team since Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles took over, whatever the reason for that is I will not get into but that’s just what it is. The Eagles scored 30+ just 3 times this season and 2 of them have come within the last 4 weeks. There is a new energy to the team, the defense has been playing better, Darren Sproles has rejuvenated the run game and Foles has been slinging the ball pretty well again. He wasn’t great against the Bears but he bounced back for a win. The Saints on the other hand are a great team all around. Drew Brees is a top MVP candidate, their run game behind Kamara and Ingram is amazing, and they have one of the best WR’s in the league in Michael Thomas. Their defense has also been very good as of late, a squad that is full of talented players. I believe the Eagles are a different team and they took note of how the Saints ran the score up on them and will remember that going into this game.
Prediction: I think this is going to be a battle, a hard fought game by both sides, a lot different from their regular season meeting. I am buying in on the Foles Magic, not to mention the Eagles seem to love being underdogs. Eagles win.
So with all the predictions out of the way, all that’s left is to lock those bets in and sit back and wait for the amazing games this weekend.
(All pictures via @ESPN)