NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round Predictions


Photo by Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 21, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) against the Minnesota Vikings during the second half of a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Vikings 20-9. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Jackson, Staff Writer

Atlanta Falcons (10-6) @ Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) — Saturday 3:35 PM

This is a game I keep changing sides on. Two very equal teams face off in a game that will most likely be dominated by passing. The Eagles without Carson Wentz have been highly questionable, but ultimately, I have faith in Nick Foles. The Eagles are too good (even without Wentz) at every position to lose to a Falcons team that has struggled, especially compared to last season. I see Matt Ryan collapsing under the heavy pressure of the Eagles defensive line. Although Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman do pose a threat to the Eagles and help to Ryan, they’ll struggle behind an offensive line that is destined to get overpowered. My hot takes for this game: Nelson Agholor catches a 45+ yard touchdown and Jay Ajay rushes for 100+ yards.


Tennessee Titans (9-7) @ New England Patriots (13-3) — Saturday 7:15 PM

Oh, how I wish I could say the Titans will win this game. Another year with the Patriots in a championship game. How boring. I picked the Titans to lose last week against the Chiefs, so the fact that they are even in this position surprises me. Young Marcus Mariota and Demarco Murray are no match for Tom Brady and the well-experienced Patriots. The Pat’s defense started the season slow, but have proven their strength in the past few weeks, so I expect Mariota to struggle to find gaps and taking off with his legs. Despite Brady’s less-than-average play over the last couple of weeks, he still has the necessary weapons to back him up. In addition, the Patriots are coming off two weeks rest and are undoubtedly ready to hit the field. The weather in Foxboro is going to be warm, but rainy, so expect a slower game. My hot take for this game: The Patriots hold Tennessee to 0 points at half and 10 all game.


Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3) — Sunday 12:05 PM

I say Steelers take this game, but it is no walk in the park. The Jaguars have an excellent defense manned by a young and explosive secondary that should be able to hold Antonio Brown in check (assuming he plays). Le’veon Bell will take over this game, while Ben Roethlisberger struggles with the air game. Roethlisberger will be under a lot of pressure against the Jacksonville front four and so will Bell, but Bell’s shiftiness and burst ability will allow him to take off in this game. Although he may end up with a decent stat line, I just really don’t see Blake Bortles being an impact player on Sunday. Leonard Fournette will be the Jag’s hero –even though they will lose– because the Steelers mediocre run defense (4.4 yards/carry, 14 touchdowns) won’t be able to handle his explosiveness. The majority of this game will be played with and decided by the Steelers offense vs the Jaguars defense. My hot takes for this game: Leonard Fournette scores twice and Antonio Brown is held to under 50 yards.

Photo by Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 14, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) calls a play at the line during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints (11-5) @ Minnesota Vikings (13-3) — Sunday 3:40 PM

This is easily my game of the week. Two very good teams are facing off and there seems to be no one with the clear upper hand. In my opinion, though, I have to give this game to the Saints. Both teams are extremely well rounded, but the Saints offense is just a little better than the Vikings. This is going to be a close game and the winner is going to be decided in the last few drives. Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram and Michael Thomas head the Saints talented offensive and are always a threat to put up a lot of points, but the Vikings defense has been excellent all year and is

always a challenge to face. Case Keenum, Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon head the Vikings offense and have proven their ability to attack from any position, but the blooming Saints defense have been lock-up all year and won’t allow any easy points. This game is going to be thrilling on both sides of the ball. I’m choosing the Saints because of Drew Brees’ experience as a leader –something that Case Keenum lacks– and because the Saints running back duo have been unmatched all season. My hot take for this game: Alvin Kamara steals the show and goes off for 100+ total yards and 1+ touchdowns.