If this weekends games are anything like the wild card games then we are in for a treat. With games coming down to the wire to improbable comebacks the first weekend of NFL playoffs were a great way to start. Four more games this weekend with teams getting one step closer to the Super Bowl, this week will let us know if the teams who won during the wild card weekend are legit or if they just got lucky. With more predictions and analysis for this weekends games I try my best to give you a quick overview of every game with my thoughts on each one.
Falcons at Eagles-
The battle of the birds in Philadelphia this weekend as the top seed Eagles host the 6 seed Falcons. The big story with Philly is obviously the fact that their quarterback Carson Wentz is out for the year. The Eagles have struggled offensively since then with replacement Nick Foles, but they have had two weeks to try to sort things out. The Falcons on the other hand are coming off an impressive win on the road at Los Angeles defeating the Rams. The Falcons are a team getting hot at the right time and with a lot of talent they are a team that is very dangerous right now. Many people have the Falcons winning this game and Vegas has Atlanta as a 2.5 point favorite Saturday. Pretty much all week since the Falcons beat the Rams I was on their side but contrary to what I said on the No Huddle Sports Show on Monday I am actually going to pick the Eagles. I know Wentz is out but this is a very talented team and when you earn the #1 seed and you are labeled an underdog at home in your first playoff game you better believe the Eagles are gonna come play with something to prove. I think the time off will also help them prepare for the Falcons defense which while it is a good defensive team it’s not elite by any means and Philadelphia can definitely expose that. I’m picking Philly at home 20-17.
Titans at Patriots-
The consensus around the NFL world is this game will be the worst one of the weekend and the Patriots are going to blow out the Titans. Listen, I know in the playoffs anything can happen but this is one that I don’t see any way the Titans can win this. I know against the Chiefs I really gave the Titans no shot and they pulled it off but this would be one of the biggest upsets of playoff history. Now don’t get me wrong, I would love to see the Titans win this game and see Scott Baldwin dance around on his Snapchat story to the Titans victory but it probably won’t happen. The only way I see it happening is if Mariotta can come out and play the best game of his career. He will also need Brady to play one of the worst games of his career. The Titans will also need a special teams TD and/or a pick six early and grab the lead and momentum. Besides that the Patriots are too talented across the board and they have been in these games every year for the past decade and a half. I honestly don’t see this being a game at all, I think New England jumps out early and never looks back, I like the Patriots at home 35-13.
Jaguars at Steelers-
This game will be interesting because I can really see this going one of two ways. First I see the Steelers blowing out the Jaguars and second I think the Steelers win in a close game. I do think the Jags have a better shot than the Titans, if I had to put the Titans chances into a percentage it would be maybe 2-5% chance to win while I think the Jags are around 20-25%. You could honestly tell me that the Steelers win this game by 30 and I would believe you. I know everyone says that Jacksonville won in Pittsburgh by 20 in the regular season, but this is a much different team and the Steelers know how to win in the playoffs. Jacksonville’s offense was also horrendous in the game vs Buffalo and if they play like that they will lose this game by 20 or 30. Their defense however is very good and that is what will keep them in the game. If they can pick off Big Ben a few times in this game like in he regular season match up then watch out for Jacksonville. I do think the Steelers will learn from their mistakes and come out and win this game. I do believe that it will be close and low scoring and I have Pittsburgh winning 21-13.
Saints at Vikings-
This is the game that I am most excited about this weekend. I believe this game will produce the NFC champion and I expect a very good game. The Saints looked pretty good against a good Carolina team last week and have another tough defense they have to face. Minnesota is coming in as one of the biggest surprises with quarterback Case Keemun playing as well as he has. Keenan will be making his first career playoff start while on the other side Drew Brees will be making his 13th career playoff start. This in my opinion is the hardest game to pick, the Vikings currently sit at a 5 point favorite which I think is a little surprising. Yes, I know the Vikings have been very good all year but so have the Saints and New Orleans has historically been a very good team in the playoffs with Brees and Sean Payton. I’ll give one reason each team will win even though there are hundreds. For the Saints they will win if they can limit the Vikings pass game. The Saints defensive line was incredible against Carolina, and if they can pressure Keenum who will be nervous in his first playoff start they could rattle him. For the Vikings, they need to make the Saints offense one dimensional, which is easier said than done. New Orleans is one of the most balanced teams offensively in the league and if they can be limited to either running or passing they can be beat. My prediction is that Drew Brees is too much to handle for the Vikings and the Saints win in another high scoring game 38-34.