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NFL Playoff Preview: Divisional Round

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NFL Playoff Preview: Divisional Round

Elizabeth Clark, Writer

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It’s mid-January, the time when all the traditional holidays have ended, and NFL Playoff games become a holiday within themselves. Fans from around the country will crowd anxiously around TVs, cheering for their favorite team to pull out a win, make it to the conference championship, and eventually, the Super Bowl. For most New-Englanders, they will be keeping a close eye on the Patriots vs Chargers game at 1:05 PM this Sunday. Below are my predictions for who will take each game, and what makes them stand out from their opponent.

https://www.nfl.com/videos/analysis

AFC

  • Patriots vs Chargers @ 1:05 (Sunday)
  • Colts vs Chiefs @ 4:35 (Saturday)

NFC

  • Cowboys vs Rams @ 8:15 (Saturday)
  • Eagles vs Saints @ 4:40 (Sunday)

 

Game Predictions

Pats: The Patriots are hungry for a ring this year, after a “devastating” Super Bowl loss last year to the Eagles. I think that they will definitely succeed in beating the Chargers, as Tom Brady is continually clicking with the rest of his offense, and they are seamless in finding/creating space to move the ball, allowing them constant first downs as they move their way down the field. Their defense has also been known to make key stops in the playoffs, and they should be continuing that this weekend. Finally, the Patriots have become a seasoned and experienced playoff team, so shouldn’t crack under the pressure.

Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes has over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns so far this season, and is seemingly always able to find an open receiver, no matter the degree of difficulty the pass may be. Like most other teams at this point, the Chiefs have something to prove: they’re 0-4 against the Colts in postseason play. The Colts come into play following a big win over the Texans, and Andrew Luck is playing arguably the best football of his career. With an astute defense led by rookie All-Pro Darius Leonard, the Colts should pose a serious threat against a Kansas City team that has been borderline unstoppable this year. Still, even without Kareem Hunt (suspension), I still think the Chiefs offense has enough firepower to beat the Colts, likely in a shootout.

 

Rams: The Rams won the NFC West at 13-3, with a dominant offense led by former number-one pick QB Jared Goff, along with standout running back Todd Gurley who had another outstanding season in the LA backfield. New additions Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib anchor the Los Angeles secondary, and with fellow new additions Ndoma kong Suh along with Aaron Donald playing in the interior of the line, this Rams team is equally dominant on both sides of the ball The Cowboys started out the year 3-5, but rallied to finish the year 10-6 and win the NFC East. Following a win over the Seahawks in the Wild Card round, the Cowboys are looking to build on their late-season magic to take out the heavily favored Rams. If the Cowboys are going to win, they’ll have to lean heavily on running back Ezekiel Elliott and hope midseason acquisition Amari Cooper makes some plays against the vaunted LA secondary. I just don’t think the ‘Boys have enough in them, however, and see LA taking this one fairly easily.

Eagles: Their win against the Bears (who some thought would be a Super Bowl team) showed an incredible team effort and form of resilience that I think will carry them over the Saints. The Eagles are also trying to defend their Super Bowl win last year, and make NFL history once more. They also have something huge to prove, as, on 11/18, the Saints beat the Eagles at a whopping 48-7. For whatever reason, the Eagles offense has performed much better with Foles manning the offense instead of Carson Wentz, who was the Eagles’ starter at QB for most of the year. While the Saints offense is elite, led by Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara, I don’t think their defense will have an answer for Foles and the Eagles’ offense. I think the Eagles defense, which is finally somewhat healthy, will put enough pressure on Brees to make him uncomfortable and maybe force him into a key turnover or two. While it will be close, I think the Eagles will do just enough to pull off the huge upset over the top-seeded Saints.

Patriots vs Chargers

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Chiefs vs Colts

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Cowboys vs Rams

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Eagles vs Saints

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