The Wildcard round is over, and Wild it was! It was full of huge upsets, late comebacks, crazy catches and bitter defeats. I will summarize all of the wild-card rounds with one stat, Blake Bortles rushed for 88 yards and threw for 87 in a 10-3 win over the Bills, Marcus Mariota caught his own pass for a touchdown in a 22-21 upset of the Chiefs, the Falcons are back on track after defeating a young Rams team 26-13, and Drew Brees and the Saints won an epic clash with Cam Newton 31-26. All of these games have set up what is to be an absolutely unforgettable Divisional Round.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Time: Saturday, January 13th, 4:35 PM E.T.
Location: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
TV Channel: NBC
The Falcons are coming into Philadelphia after defeating the #3 seed Rams 26-13, you could just tell the moment was a little too big for a youthful Rams team. Meanwhile, the Eagles are limping into this one without star QB Carson Wentz who was lost for the season due to a torn ACL. This game will be a good one to watch if Nick Foles can execute and make some tough throws. Atlanta has all the momentum after defeating the Panthers in week 17 to make it to the playoffs and winning their first playoff game against the Rams. Atlanta’s defense looked determined to show why they’re the actual strength of the team, its a heck of an accomplishment to hold the #1 offense to just 13 points. If Atlanta wants to win this game they will have to run the ball on the Eagles top-ranked rush defense and execute in the redone. Atlanta was 5/5 in the redone against the Rams but only scored TD’s on 2 of those attempts, which has been a problem for the Falcons all season. The Eagles will also do their best to establish the run but for a multitude of reasons. The first and most obvious reason is to keep that Atlanta offense off the field, The Eagles know that Atlanta can score on anyone but no one can score if they’re sitting on the sideline. The second reason is that they need to help/protect Nick Floes. They can’t afford to let Nick Foles have to convert 3rd and longs every drive, that’s a recipe for disaster. The 3rd and final reason is that they need to stick to what got them here, they’ve run the ball and played good D all year no point in changing now.
Final Score: Falcons 31 Eagles 16 Spread: Atlanta -3
Tennessee Titans vs. New England Patriots
Time: Saturday, January 13th, 8:15 PM E.T.
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Massachusetts
TV Channel: CBS
The Titans are rolling into Foxboro after a thrilling come from behind victory over the Chiefs in Arrowhead. The Titans trailed 21-3 at halftime but they didn’t let that discourage them. They battled back and thanks to some lucky bounces (literally) they were able to come back and stun the Chiefs 22-21. Don’t let this game fool you the Titans are going to get smoked by the Pats, they do have a small chance though. New England’s defense dint as superior as it has been in years past and with a running back like Derrick Henry anything possible. The Titans will have to run the hell out of the ball if they want to be in this game. If they run they run the ball and they hold New England to field goals instead of touchdowns they might just have a shot. The Patriots are the typical Pats, they’re the #1 seed and Brady is coming off a season where he leads the NFL in passing yards. Going to Foxboro and winning in any month is hard but its damn near impossible in January just ask Peyton Manning. I fully expect the Pats to blow the doors off the Titans and easily advance to the AFC Championship game.
Final Score: Patriots 48 Titans 10 Spread: Patriots -13.5
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Time: Sunday, January 14th, 1:05 PM E.T.
Location: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
TV Channel: CBS
This game should be interesting and the rematch all of us (mainly Ben Roethlisberger) wanted! Do you remember when they played week 5!? Big Ben threw 5 picks and after the game said he might just not have it anymore (kidding of course). The Jags won that one 30-9 and are coming off another huge defensive effort defeating the Buffalo Bills 10-3. The Jags defense is one of the best units I’ve ever seen but they do struggle against the run. They did a decent job bottling up an injured LeSean McCoy and company, but that’s nothing compared to Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh offense. The Jacksonville offense looked despicable against the Bills and Blake Bortles couldn’t complete a pass for his life! He missed open receivers all over the place, the guy looked like he’s never even played football before. If the Jags are gonna win it’s going come down to Blake Bortles completing passes, So yeah basically not looking good. The Steelers are in full swing finally getting Antonio Brown back from injury. The killer B’s are back in action and looking for revenge! a motivated Big Ben could be a scary thing. The Steelers will mainly rely on Bell to be the bell cow he is to lead them to victory and their defense should have a feast against Bortles.
Final Score: Steelers 38 Jaguars 6 Spread: Steelers -7.5
New Orleans Saints vs. Minnesota Vikings
Time: Sunday, January 14th, 4:40 PM E.T.
Location: U.S Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
TV Channel: FOX
The NFL saved the best for last, The Saints are going to the Vikings and it should be an absolute firecracker of a game. Sorry, I just always wanted to say that. The Saints and Vikings played week 1 and it saw the Vikings escape with a 29-19 win on Monday Night Football. Both teams are completely different then they were when they met the first time. Case Keenum was the backup to Sam Bradford, Dalvin Cook was the starting running back, Alvin Kamara was a relatively unknown name sitting 3rd on the depth chart behind Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson, and the Saints D was considered laughable. My of my have things changed! This game is going to feature 2 of the best teams in the NFL! If the Saints want to win they’re going to have to do it with defense. They will score their points, they can just attack you from so many different angles, whether it’s on the ground or air with Kamara and Ingram, or throwing to Michael Thomas, or Ted Ginn Jr. burning you for a long TD and obviously Drew Brees. The Saints are good and my personal pick to make it to the Super Bowl but it’s not going to be easy! The Vikings are rolling into this one, they’ve absorbed so many injuries without skipping a beat it’s pretty outstanding. You gotta tip your cap to Case Keenum, Latavious Murray, Jerrick McKinnon and especially this coaching staff! well done! They have their next great task in trying to beat the Saints. The Vikings have done it all year by playing stellar defense and running the ball effectively. Keenum has proven he can make all the throws and has great chemistry with receiver Adam Theilen and Stefon Diggs. These teams are so evenly matched! It’s going to be so good I’m pacing around my house trying to control my excitement!
Final Score: Saints 27 Vikings 24 Spread: Vikings -4