My preliminary NFL playoff bracket projection went south speedily thanks to a pair of upsets on Saturday of Wild Card Weekend. But the premise of the Vikings profitable out and web hosting their have Tremendous Bowl continue to lives. I feel there is a very good chance it continue to transpires: Patriots-Vikings is the most possible Super Bowl matchup (3:1 odds according to Bovada.lv) but the Vikings may get their toughest take a look at this weekend in opposition to the Saints. It is not out of the issue for New Orleans to expend the following three months enjoying in a dome and environment up a 2nd Super Bowl operate in the Drew Brees-Sean Payton period.
Let’s think about that probability real rapid. Possibly this weekend could belong to underdogs, but I’d a great deal alternatively lean on some quarterback practical experience in the divisional spherical to enable set up some epic meeting championship battles. All lines further than the divisional round are projections.
Falcons (-3) at Eagles – Sat. Jan. 13, 4:35 p.m. ET (NBC)
The Eagles are historic underdogs in this divisional matchup and it is quite easy to understand why they are upset about it. They are a football group, not a bunch of dudes set on Earth to stand close to Carson Wentz. They have protection and a run activity. But the Falcons have a “2010 Packers” glimpse at about them, a team that we realized was talented still struggled to place it all with each other most of the season and suddenly had everything click. Furthermore, playoff experience is a serious matter and Matt Ryan (9 starts off) has a ton more of it than Nick Foles (1 commence). Foles will come out a minimal jumpy on a balmy Saturday afternoon in Philly and the Falcons rapid-playing protection requires advantage with a choose six in the to start with fifty percent of the activity. Matt Ryan settles in properly and Julio Jones piles up another 100-lawn playoff sport. Devonta Freeman softens the Philly front and the Eagles can never ever create the run early. The Falcons keep off a late rally to gain a single on the street and progress to the NFC Championship Recreation. Prediction: Falcons 24, Eagles 17
Patriots (-13.5) vs. Titans – Sat. Jan. 13, 8:15 p.m. ET (CBS)
Absolutely everyone just about everywhere is hunting for a motive why the Titans can earn this recreation. It can be not so challenging to think about, it just has to require Tom Brady participating in inadequately out of the gates versus a Dick LeBeau defense, which is not one thing that has truly ever occurred.
The Titans require a turnover early and have to restrict what Rob Gronkowski does in the passing video game (Travis Kelce was lights them up last week right before a to start with-fifty percent concussion) so they can feed Derrick Henry and allow him operate downhill. Which is not likely to happen even though. The Titans are 24th in pass protection towards limited finishes and 32nd in go defense towards jogging backs for every Football Outsiders DVOA. Their two most important defensive weaknesses line up squarely with the Patriots largest strengths on offense. Gronk and Dion Lewis are heading to have a initially 50 % dance occasion and then the Pats are going to grind out a 2nd fifty percent acquire that could possibly appear closer than it ever was. They is not going to want to hazard Brady and Gronk getting hurt in a blowout but still acquire easily. Prediction: Patriots 31, Titans 14
Steelers (-7) vs. Jaguars – Solar. Jan. 14, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Revenge video game for the Steelers coming? The Jaguars really need to have to do the reverse of what you would assume and enable Blake Bortles throw the football much more early in drives and in non-noticeable passing predicaments. But the guess listed here is they really don’t do that, and consider to set up the operate early, hoping to get in a low-scoring defensive fight with the Steelers. The difficulty for Jacksonville is they have been able of offering up big runs this year (even though the hurry protection obtained a lot greater soon after getting Marcel Dareus) and Le’Veon Bell is itching for a monster sport. The Steelers can establish the run, throw the ball more than the center and then get some shots down the area to Antonio Brown, who may perhaps or may perhaps not be balanced. Do not ignore that, inspite of Ben Roethlisberger throwing 5 picks throughout 7 days 5’s reduction to Jacksonville, AB still had 10 catches for 157 yards. The Steelers occur out incredibly hot, put the Jags protection on its heels and are in a position to salt away this activity in fairly convincing and relaxed style. The Jags just do not have the offensive firepower to hold up. Prediction: Steelers 28, Jaguars 10
Saints (+5) vs. Vikings – Sunlight. Jan. 14, 4:40 p.m. ET (Fox)
Yet another opportunity revenge activity in this article with an fascinating twist: if the Saints beat the Vikings, they could conclusion up taking part in three games at Minnesota’s home stadium. That’s a very unusual situation — the Saints played the Panthers 3 times this year, but they’re a divisional rival and only two of the video games were being at property for clear scheduling uses. The Saints performed the Vikings in Minnesota in Week 1, are rematching with them there in the postseason for the Divisional Round and if New Orleans will make the Tremendous Bowl, they will engage in in the Vikings stadium once more. That is a rather insane gain. It can be also placing the cart before the horse, for the reason that New Orleans has to win this sport first. It is really heading to require a great effort from Drew Brees along with Michael Thomas stepping up and successful the 1-on-just one matchup with Xavier Rhodes. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram require to make the Vikings linebackers pass up tackles, and the Saints offensive line has to hold up in go safety. Obtaining a strong recreation from Cameron Jordan and Marshon Lattimore is a will have to as properly, mainly because the Saints are heading to need some assistance on defense to gain this a person. They get all that in this projection however! Prediction: Saints 21, Vikings 17
Meeting Championship Spherical
Steelers (+6.5) at Patriots
What a delight, a incredibly preferred matchup for the bosses at the mothership (Jags-Titans is in essence the identical thing nevertheless, so we are great both way). When the two groups met in Pittsburgh before this 12 months, we received a true treat that arrived down to the very last 2nd and a controversial get in touch with. When the teams meet again in New England for the AFC Championship Sport, we’ll get a lot more of the same, albeit with fewer controversy. Both groups can rating promptly and we are going to get factors early and frequently as Brady and Ben elevate their game titles and we get a entire-blown shootout. The Steelers conclusion up with the ball last again this time all around, although, and are ready to kick a recreation-successful area aim to at last vault them earlier the Pats. Prediction: Steelers 31, Patriots 28
Saints (-5) vs. Falcons
Someway the Saints are internet hosting the NFC Championship Game. That came out of nowhere! Right after splitting the period series with the Falcons, they get a prospect to, ahem, choke out the Falcons’ Tremendous Bowl aspirations. This would be a great NFC title activity way too, with Brees and Ryan both able of putting up details in a hurry and both defenses getting shocked people today this yr for various motives at diverse details of the calendar year. In this particular projection, Cam Jordan is in a position to get adequate pressure on Ryan and Lattimore is in a position to limit Julio ample that the Saints can outscore the Falcons. In the end it truly is a activity that will come down to the very last possession as perfectly, but Brees is as well dialed in to prevent and he hits Kamara out of the backfield for a late, activity-sealing rating that propels the Saints to their next Tremendous Bowl under Sean Payton.
Tremendous Bowl LII
Steelers (-3) vs. Saints
Fantastic luck handicapping this sport and my, oh, my what a activity it could be. Both equally the Steelers and Saints, like their meeting championship competitors, are capable of piling up factors in a hurry. The defenses are much better than people feel but also able of offering up massive performs. It feels like this could be together the lines of either the Saints previous Super Bowl earn — that wild shootout against the Colts that showcased an onside kick to start the second 50 % and a Tracy Porter decide on 6 of Peyton Manning late — or the Steelers very last Tremendous Bowl earn — the Ben to Santonio Holmes throw that ripped the hearts out of Cardinals followers and finished Kurt Warner’s chance of profitable a Tremendous Bowl with two teams — and it is not going to get one particular-sided. Even if just one of these groups gets up early, you very best think there is a comeback in the works. Heading towards Brown and Bell on this stage is silly, but give me Brees indoors, in a stadium he’s now relaxed with, and his playoff recreation history. Very last time in the Super Bowl Brees done 32 of 39 passes (82.1 per cent!) for 288 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. A identical general performance in a shootout nets him a Super Bowl LII MVP award as he hoists yet another Brees baby boy carrying earphones substantial into the sky.