Which teams will book their tickets to the conference championships? Here’s my picks for each NFL divisional round game.
The Green Bay Packers aren’t here, but they’ve kept things entertaining for us the past couple of weeks.
In the meantime there’s a great weekend of playoff action to look forward to. Will the Falcons reach the NFC Championship Game for a second straight year? Will the Patriots get to the AFC title game for the millionth time?
How about Jacksonville and Tennessee? Imagine those two rivals fighting for a place in the Super Bowl next week.
Here’s my picks for the divisional round.
Atlanta at Philadelphia
Foles didn’t look good in the team’s Week 17 loss to Dallas, and he gets a tougher test here. Atlanta’s defense has come a long way under Dan Quinn — it ranks No. 12 against the pass, No. 9 against the run and No. 8 in scoring defense.
The Eagles’ defense will need to carry them here, but that won’t be easy against a talented Falcons offense.
Philadelphia is No. 1 against the run, is at home and has had an extra week of rest. That’s what Eagles fans will be hoping helps their team win.
I just don’t see it happening.
Tennessee at New England
Tennessee’s comeback victory last week was thrilling, but make no mistake, the Titans will be outmatched in New England. The Patriots must be very happy the way this has played out for them.
Instead of hosting a Kansas City team that dismantled them in Week 1, they instead get a Titans team that has been up-and-down all year.
But I’m not going to pick against the Patriots at home.
Pick: New England
Jacksonville at Pittsburgh
Despite that, Roethlisberger threw for 312 yards compared to Blake Bortles‘ 95. Bortles also went without a touchdown pass, while throwing one interception.
Jacksonville’s defense can clearly create a number of problems for Pittsburgh. But expect the Steelers to commit to the run this time, even if they get behind early.
I expect Pittsburgh’s defense to do a better job against Leonard Fournette than they did earlier this year. Fournette dominated in the last meeting with 28 carries for 181 yards and two touchdowns.
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If the Jaguars can win this one, they’ll have a real shot of making the Super Bowl. It’ll be a close game, but I’m giving the edge to the Steelers.
Pittsburgh will lean on the ground game. Bell will be the Steelers’ X-factor, and guide them to a huge postseason victory.
New Orleans at Minnesota
This could be one of the games of the season. Minnesota was victorious in Week 1, but a lot has changed since then.
The Vikings are at home, have the better defense and are one of the best teams in football. But I just have a good feeling about this Saints team.
New Orleans is one of the most balanced teams in the NFL. The Saints can play defense, but they also own arguably the league’s best offense.
Find a way to slow down Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram? That’s fine, the Saints will just put the game in the hands of their 11-time Pro Bowl and Super Bowl MVP quarterback. And he has a Pro Bowl receiver to throw to in Michael Thomas.
Normally I wouldn’t pick against the Vikings at home, but this Saints team is going to go all the way.
Pick: New Orleans
Last week: 2-2
Regular season: 167-89