The opening round of the playoffs saw some unpredictable results and possibly the end of an era in New England. We also saw the Bills blow a big lead, and the Saints getting stunned by the Vikings…AGAIN! The Seahawks beat up on a banged up Philly team, and of course I put a stinker going 0-4 in my predictions. Time to rebound! Here are my predictions for the NFL’1s divisional round.
Minnesota Vikings Vs San Francisco 49ers
The Minnesota Vikings pulled off another miracle against the Saints last week holding Drew Brees to his worst passing game at home this season, while putting pressure on him throughout the game. The Vikings didn't allow Kamara to be an impact in this game, only allowing 21 yards rushing. Minnesota's defense stood up this game. It’s become an advantage for the Vikings, being able to put pressure on the QB, and with Jimmy G who will be making his first playoff start, they’ll be looking to apply that same pressure.
Adam Thielen went off against the Saints and Kyle Rudolph had some big catches, including the last one in OT. And while Diggs was quiet, it's hard to have both he and Thielen have monster games, but Cousin’s is 2-0 lifetime against San Fran with 4 touchdowns in this games, so fireworks could be on the way.
The Niners have one of the best Tight Ends in the league in Gred Kittle and he will look to be a problem for Minnesota. In his last three home games he's reached 100 receiving yards twice, so Minny needs to be on alert. The Niners also have 3 running backs that can make plays and all three have played a part in the Niners being the second best rushing team in the NFL.
San Fran will have to find ways to utilize their running backs and keep giving them the ball. Though if they contain the Vikings pass rush life will be easier for Jimmy G to rip apart the Vikings 23rd ranked passing D.
The Vikings surprised many (including me) last Sunday, and I think both defences are capable of having big performances, but I'll give the edge to San Fran. Niners 21-17.
Tennessee Titans Vs Baltimore Ravens
The Titans also put together a stunner this past weekend beating the defending champs New England Patriots in Foxborough. Really it was one man that put the Patriots to the golf course, Derrick Henry. The second-year Running Back broke a franchise record for most rushing yards in a playoff game, and you can bet they try a replicate that performance here. Ryan Tannehill did enough and the Titans defence stood pat and Mike Vrabel even played a trick on his old mentor Bill Belichick's, but now the Titans play the best team in the league.
The Ravens have won 12 straight games. Lamar Jackson will make his second playoff game start in his career, and while last year he struggled, this year he’s been nothing but phenomenal. No question Mike Vrabel will have to blitz and use his safeties or Jackson and Ingram could be running wild. On defence A lot of mix matching the Titans can do on defense, the Ravens might have a field day with Tannehill. The former Dolphin has gotten sacked 31 times in his last 10 starts, and got roughed up at against New England.
Coupled with the fact the Raven's have only allowed the third least amount of points in the league and have only given up 49 points in their last 4 home games, plus are in the top 5 in rushing and 6th in passing, they have looked unstoppable. The Ravens will have to expect Tennessee handing Henry the ball 20-25 times or more in this game, and the Titans need to be prepared for Lamar Jackson putting up big numbers. Not to downplay what they did against the Pats, but they’re facing the MVP.
The Ravens are too strong of a team. Despite the big back in Derrick Henry, he won't be enough for the Titans to pull another upset. Ravens 40-17.
Houston Texans Vs Kansas City Chiefs
Deshaun Watson vs Patrick Mahomes has a chance of being a very entertaining game. This would be the second matchup of the year between the two teams, and if this one is anything like the game in October we could be in for a classic. In that game the Chiefs had a hard time stopping Watson, so Frank Clark and Chris Jones will have to have success pressuring the young QB if the Chiefs want to better their chances.
The Texans need to worry about Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill, as well as the big man Travis Kelce. Tyreek Hill is one of the best deep threats in the game while Travis Kelce is one of the best TEs in the league, leading all Tight Ends in receiving yards and receptions. The Chiefs running game has been less effective this season and has been a reason as to why their offence hasn’t looked as dominant as it was last year.
With JJ Watt back at less than 100 percent he still managed to help the Texans immensely. His play and appearance gave the team a big push. Obviously the Texans need to limit Mahomes and let the Chiefs try and beat them in the running department, that would better their chances, but you can never count out the reigning MVP.
Expect both quarterbacks to have a good game, but the Chiefs will get the win. Hill will look unstoppable, as will Kelce. Chiefs 35-30.
Seattle Seahawks Vs Green Bay Packers
There’s a lot of recent history between these two teams. We all know the collapse the Packers had against Seattle in the NFC championship game in 2015. Regardless, the past is the past and the Seahawks will have to continue to be the road warriors they have been all season. However, despite being 9-1 on the road this season Russell Wilson is 0-3 with 6 interceptions lifetime at Lambeau Field, the frozen tundra has not been kind to electric QB.
The Packers have been on a roll lately going undefeated in the month of December, and even though their offence has been just okay, they’ve gotten it done, mainly thanks to Aaron Jones and his 16 rushing touchdowns. The Packers defence has been revamped and it has made a big difference for this team. Za' Darius Smith has been a big time player in his first year in Green Bay, leading the team with 13.5 sacks, but with a young crop of secondary players like Jaire Alexander, teams can exploit them.
The Seahawks will lean on Wilson, the Packers will lean on Rodgers. Who gets their supporting cast to step should come away with the W and birth into the next round.should have his way if the other receivers can step up.
The Packers and Seahawks should have a very intense game. Seattle will stick around and make it close but the BAD MAN Aaron Rodgers will pull it out. 24-20 Packers.