The Divisional Playoff round is this weekend and unfortunately this is our last great weekend of NFL football until next season kicks off. The beauty of having four games in a weekend is spectacular, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. It literally feels different when you wake up on Saturday morning and realize you have a playoff football weekend ahead of you. It was tough to see my two pseudo favorite teams get bounced in Wild Card Weekend, I was pulling for the Bills and the Pats (my man crush with Brady and Bill B knows no bounds). The match ups aren’t necessarily a ratings dream but it’s playoff football so let’s not get too picky. Let’s do a full dive into each of the match ups:
Saturday 4:35pm Vikings @ 49ers
The 49ers have flown under the radar all year, quite possibly the quiest thirteen wins that I can remember. Jimmy G and Kyle Shanahan have figured it out in San Fran and an addition Shanahan has been able to institute a run game that has demolished teams all season. Like father like son, it is in Kyle Shanahan’s blood to institute a run game that consists of a three headed monster. Mostert,Breida and Coleman have all rushed for over 500 yards this season and a combined 15 touchdowns. Also the Vikes will need to look out for dual threat player Deebo Samuel who plays receiver and running back, he has rushed 159 yards in 14 attempts this season and has three rushing touchdowns of his own.
I went into this blog trying to convince myself on the Vikings, I love the way they played against New Orleans and I wrote previously about how they are my sleeper team to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. The Vikings do have a tremendous defense IF they play to their full potential, we saw glimpses of it during the regular season but last Sunday we saw just how good they can actually be. Danielle Hunter is one of, if not the best Defensive End in the entire league and an addition they have Eric Kendricks at linebacker and Harrison Smith at Safety, those two men combined for 195 tackles this season. I love the linebacking corp of Kendricks and Anthony Barr. This game comes down to a great running game in SF and a phenomenal defense in Minnesota.
My determining factor here is the Quarterback play, who will put their team in a better position to win and most importantly, who won’t take too many unnecessary risk. For all the criticism Kirk Cousins gets, a lot of it deserving BUT he did win the big game last week that has eluded him for his entire career. Cousins also rarely turns the ball over, he only threw six interceptions this season and I like the Vikings receiving weapons as well. Diggs, Thielen, Rudolph and Cook out of the backfield. Dalvin Cook might be the most explosive player on the field.
Both of these team can cause pressure and get to the QB, they each had 48 sacks this season.This game is tough but I like the Vikings to keep this run going and pull the big road upset in a low scoring game.
Prediction: Vikings 20 – 49ers 18
Saturday 8:15pm Titans @ Ravens
Lamar Jackson might be the most electric Quarterback I have ever seen. I was so wrong about this guy, I thought he was going to be a complete bust. I was so wrong, not only is he phenomenal but the Ravens have re-designed their entire offensive system to fit is skill set. He is in the absolute best position to succeed. Jackson has taken a huge step forward this year, he threw for 3,127 yards, 36 TD’s and he also ran for 1,206 and TD’s, through all of that, he only threw for 6 INT. Those are Madden numbers. The Ravens have TWO 1,000 yard rushers, Jackson and Mark Ingram. This offense has been explosive since the first week of the season, they have scored 28 points or more ten times this season. Jackson is able to extend plays long enough that he has turned TE Mark Andrews into a great player, nine players have caught TD’s from Lamar this season.
The Titans are going to implement the same model they did against the Patriots, run the ball and have Ryan Tannehill make throws when it is absolutely necessary. Derrick Henry is an absolute unit running the football, we have discussed this on the blog, he is a phenomenal football player, I love watching him run the ball. He rushed for nearly 1,600 yards in the regular season and slashed the Pats for 180 yards in Foxboro last weekend.
I really do love the Titans defense, they are able to get to most quarterbacks and are in the top half for team sacks, they also are great at causing turnovers. I want to pick the Titans here but I can’t go against Lamar and this offense at home.
Prediction: Ravens 31 – Titans 20
Sunday 3:05pm Texans @ Chiefs
I love Andy Reid, if I had to pick a team I would want to win the Super Bowl, it would be the Chiefs. Reid has been such a phenomenal coach for so long, he deserves a Super Bowl Championship. I think the Chiefs have been able to fly under the radar this season, thanks in large part to what the Ravens have been able to do and the Patriots always dominating the headlines. Patrick Mahomes makes the difficult look easy and with the weapons he has on offense, I think that fire power will be too much for the Texans to handle.
I think the Texans are the least talented team left in the playoffs, they do have Deshaun Watson so you are never out of it. Watson proved against Buffalo how valuable he is, he put the team on his back in the second half and made dazzling play after dazzling play. In this particular scenario, I think Houston is over matched. I think going on the road and having to play in Arrowhead is a tall task, they will be out coached and Andy Reid’s career record off of the bye week is 18-3 in the regular season and 4-1 in the post-season, that is remarkable. Bill O’Brien struggles to get out of his own way in crunch time and frankly was the benefit of a Bills choke in wild card weekend.
The match up that all NFL fans want is the Ravens vs Chiefs in the AFC Championship. The Chiefs make it happen here and blow out the Texans.
Prediction: Chiefs 38 – Texans 17
Sunday 6:40pm Seahawks at Packers
Playoffs, night game, Lambeau Field. Sweet Jesus. Doesn’t get much better than that. This is probably the most exciting game of the weekend in my opinion. We get Rodgers, Russ Wilson, the veteran coach vs the up and comer, two of the most successful NFC franchises in the last ten years. Both of these teams are extremely confusing to me. The Seahawks win UGLY, they win close, they blow leads and are able to hang on but here they are, one win away from the NFC Championship game. The Packers on the other hand have the most talented Quarterback in the NFL on their side but their offense has a habit of going into hibernation for extended periods of time throughout the game. I think both of these teams have major flaws but they have two phenomenal quarterbacks and that makes all the difference.
I love Russell Wilson and I love Pete Carroll, i’m not a huge fan of Rodgers and Matt LeFleur rubs me the wrong way for some reason. I have a few close friends who are Packers fans and I would love to see them upset over another Packers choke in the playoffs (looking at you Steve and Ben). With saying all that, I cannot go against the Packers at home in Lambeau on a Sunday night, unless they are playing the G-MEN. I like the Packers in a close one. Nothing like some Wisconsin cheddar to get ya through the weekend.
Prediction: Packers 23 – Seahawks 20