Welcome to my Divisional Round Picks. In the Wild Card Round, I went 3-1. Who will come out on top this week in order to fight for Super Bowl qualification next week? Read below and comment with your thoughts.
(6) Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles (1)
Saturday: 4:35 PM EST on NBC
Eagles, 37, Falcons, 30
Even with QB Carson Wentz injured, I see Philly winning this one. The Falcons offense is pretty good, but even with Nick Foles at QB, it’s hard to top the Eagles offense. The Falcons defensive front could get on Foles’ nerves, but Foles and the Philly offense will overcome it. However, Foles has not been great under pressure, unlike Wentz. But the tough Eagles defense will have Falcons QB Matt Ryan under a lot of pressure himself, and he will struggle under pressure, failing to repeat last year’s deep playoff run.
(5) Tennessee Titans @ New England Patriots (1)
Saturday: 8:15 PM EST on CBS
Patriots, 31, Titans, 23
QB Tom Brady will lead the Pats to victory here with the help of TE Rob Gronkowski and receivers Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola, who will dominate against the young Titans secondary. Gronk will seem unbeatable to this young but strong Tennessee defense. In his first game against the Pats since his rookie year, QB Marcus Mariota will also have a tough time, especially against the strong Pats secondary. He will toss just 1 TD.
However, RB Derrick Henry will get on New England’s nerves in his first game against them. This speedy running back is just too much for the Pats front seven, even with veteran LB James Harrison. I do see New England coming out on top in the end after offensive dominance and excellent coverage of Titans QB Marcus Mariota.
(3) Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers (2)
Sunday: 1:05 PM EST on CBS
Jaguars, 27, Steelers, 23
In my opinion, Jacksonville will be the only road team that wins this week. Although QB Blake Bortles might have a difficult time against the Steelers D, the Jaguars secondary was able to pick off QB Ben Roethlisberger 5 times last time these two franchises played. Plus, between his calf and his illness, WR Antonio Brown will not be 100% for this game whether he plays or not.
Big Ben will experience deja vu against a dominant Jags defense without his favorite target. The Jags young group of receivers will also thrive as long as Bortles can get the ball to them, which I think will happen for at least parts of the game. Jags win in a close thriller.
(4) New Orleans Saints @ Minnesota Vikings (2)
Sunday: 4:40 PM EST on FOX
Vikings, 37, Saints, 33
In a high scoring rematch of the 2017 season’s first Monday Night game, the Vikes will come out on top, led by rising QB Case Keenum and young receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. WR Brandon Coleman is out for the Saints as well as G Andrus Peat, causing the Saints offense to be slightly less powerful than usual. Only slightly though. The Saints defense will still be great as well, but the Vikings dominant receivers will intimidate the young secondary and the Saints will allow Keenum to toss multiple TDs as Minnesota wins.
That’s all for my picks this week. Stay tuned for a more in-depth Patriots-Titans preview coming soon.