Following some competitive games last weekend (except Houston), all fans are excited to see what teams did with their week off and if it pays off in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs.
Mahomes will host the Andrew Luck-led Colts whom dismantled the Houston Texans. In what will likely be a shootout, will the new kid on the block Mahomes outgun the experienced Luck?
The bye-week was much needed for a Chiefs team that hopes to welcome back a handful of starters. Sammy Watkins looks to be back in the lineup for the first time since the Rams game. The Chiefs also hope to welcome back Eric Berry and Reggie Ragland which would be a nice way to start the new year on the otherwise, terrible Chiefs defense. The Chiefs defense is the worst of teams in the playoffs, and if they win, they’ll win via Patrick Mahomes.
The Colts embarrassed the Texans and were the better team on the field on Saturday. The Colts held Lamar Miller to 18 rushing yards and dominated the game. Combine the stout defense the Colts just displayed with Andrew Luck playing some of the most efficient football of his life, and you have a scrappy Colts team looking to make some noise.
The Colts have been on fire as of late and were able to win on the road against Houston, but Andy Reid in his career is 17-3 following a bye week including 3-1 in the playoffs. The last time these teams met in the wildcard the Colts came back from a double-digit deficit at half. Andy Reid surely hasn’t forgotten that failure, and will have a game plan that doesn’t allow that to happen
Final Score: 38-35 CHIEFS
Dallas Cowboys (11-6) @ Los Angeles Rams (13-3)
The Cowboys proved me wrong. Cooper and Zeke both went over 100 yards and the Cowboys stifled the Seahawks number one rushing offense. The Cowboys were able to convert important third downs and came in clutch with 14 fourth quarter points to secure the dub. The Rams however, aren’t looking to be one and done. Behind Goff and Gurley, anything is possible for this Rams offense and Aaron Donald’s defense to make plays come Saturday night.
When Zeke is clicking, the whole offense opens up. With over 5 yards per carry, the Seahawks could not slow down Zeke and he gassed their defense. Combine that with the fact that the Seahawks’ run game was nowhere to be found (73 yards on 24 attempts), and you had a dominant display of old fashioned football. They’ll look to keep the ball out of the Rams’ hands as well as they can score at will. Is the Dallas D up to the task?
The team who scored 54 points this year will need to execute on both sides of the ball. The Rams have been a little unlike themselves losing 2 of the last 5 games (and the box score doesn’t show how close the Lions game was). Combine that with the Rams having the second youngest roster in the league (average age of 25.3 circa herosports.com), and you don’t really know what to expect on Saturday.
Dallas and the Rams are two of the 5 youngest teams in the NFL and it is quite possible we see Dak vs Goff… I mean, Zeke vs Gurley for years to come. The week off however benefits the Rams the most in this equation because it allowed Gurley to heal and he should be healthy enough to split carries with CJ Anderson. Combine that with the return of Andrew Whitworth, and the Rams should be able to take care of Dallas.
Final Score: 23-22 LOS ANGELES RAMS
Los Angeles Chargers (13-4) @ New England Patriots (11-5)
The Chargers’ defense came through in the clutch last week while New England has enjoyed their annual postseason bye (13th postseason bye in the last 17 seasons). Philip Rivers has not beaten Tom Brady once in his entire career and we will have to find out if he can get that monkey off his back and get to a conference championship for the second time in his career.
The Patriots are like clockwork, but this year has been a bit shakier than other. Tom Brady threw 11 picks in the regular season and the Pats suffered some bad losses (i.e. Lions, Titans, Dolphins, Jags). These losses were all on the road, and the Patriots were the only team to go undefeated at home this season. The Patriots outscored their opponents 263-133 while playing at home and look to continue that streak.
The Chargers dominated for most of the game but were able to finish what they started with a strip of Lamar Jackson on the final drive of the game. The Chargers won’t be able to hold off the Pats for an entire half and will need to get going a lot sooner. The run game was abysmal but was good for the Chargers as the Pats defense is not as good as the Ravens. Rivers was more of a game manager only throwing for 160 yards and will need to improve to beat Brady this week.
Philip Rivers has never beaten Tom Brady, and it won’t begin this year. The Chargers barely got by the Ravens and were assisted by rookie QB mistakes that won’t be repeated by Tom Brady. Plus, betting against New England, in New England, in the playoffs?! That’s just absurd.
Final Score: 38-27 Patriots
Philadelphia Eagles (10-7) @ New Orleans Saints (13-3)
Cody Parkey’s kick heard round the world bonked the Bears’ playoff hopes off the upright (and crossbar) and lifted the Eagles into the Divisional round. Foles played much of the way he did all year, but the Eagles defense was the story of the game playing “Bend don’t break” perfectly against a Bears offense that put up a lot of yards. The Saints enjoyed some time off using it to watch film and make sure their o-line was healthy.
Nick Foles completed passes when he needed to but the best throws he had of the night were the pass interference calls he was able to draw and his pass to Golden Tate for what would be the game winning score was incredibly clutch going underneath the lineman’s outstretched arm and still leading Tate past the defender reminded Philly fans of last year’s magical postseason run behind Foles’ arm. Don’t get it twisted though, the Eagles defense only allowed the Bears to convert 31% of the Bears’ third down attempts and shout out to Treyvon Hester for tipping Cody Parkey’s kick and saving the Eagles’ season.
The Saints possess homefield advantage throughout the playoffs for a reason. The Saints’ offense has been balanced all year and knows how to utilize all of their weapons and thus force their opponents to pick their poison. Kamara has built even more from last year with 18 total touchdowns for this Saints offense making him a threat through the ground and air. What could be Brees’ last stand will motivate him and Payton to make this postseason count.
Prediction: The Saints embarrassed the Eagles back in week 11 and though the point differential won’t be as dramatic, the outcome will still be the Saints on top. The Eagles just won’t have the offensive firepower to keep up with the high-flying Saints.
Final Score: 28-19 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS