NFL Divisional Playoff Weekend Preview

While Jags are no longer in play, there are still several teams that students can root for.

Chase Gunnell

The NFL Divisional Playoffs are soon approaching and there are many matchups to watch for this weekend.

Graphic by Drew McDonald

Saturday 1/12 4:35 p.m. Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs (NBC)

The red hot Indianapolis Colts travel to Kansas City to take on Patrick Mahomes and the high flying Chiefs offense. The defense has been the only weakness to be found on this Chiefs team and even so, they have still been able to produce a pass rush in big moments during the regular season.

Being one of few teams to be projected to go to the Super bowl most of the season are the Chiefs,  with second year Quarterback and star Patrick Mahomes making his first playoff start. This being said, losing two of their last four at the end of the regular season makes it seem that they may have lost a little bit of their magic.

The Indianapolis Colts on the other hand may be the most dangerous team in the playoffs right now. They are the hot team in the league winning ten of their last eleven games including a fairly easy 21-7 win over the Houston Texans in the Wild Card round last weekend. Teams like the Colts that get hot at the end of the regular season are teams that can shake up the playoffs and make a run.

This game should be tight with a super bowl contender all year going up against the hottest team in the league. Even so, the Chiefs offense may be just too much for the Colts to keep up with.

Prediction: Chiefs 27 – Colts 21


Saturday 1/12 8:15 p.m. Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams (FOX)

The Dallas Cowboys come into this game with a defense that has been one of the best all year. The Cowboys are another team that is riding an impressive hot streak at the end of the regular season and into the playoffs. They have won eight of their last nine games, including a home win over the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card Round last week.

Along with the defense, Cowboys Running Back, Ezekiel Elliott, who led the NFL in rushing yards this year and is one of the best Running Backs in the league. The Cowboys traded for wide receiver Amari Cooper earlier in the year who has become a consistent go-to target for Quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott also made a couple huge plays at the end of the game last week to seal the win over the Seahawks.

The Rams come into this game considered one of the top three teams favored to win the Super Bowl. With another terrific Running Back in Todd Gurley, and a star in young Quarterback Jared Goff, the Rams have cemented themselves as one of the top teams in the NFL as they only lost three games all season.

The weakness of this Rams team is the defense. The Cowboys do not have a high flying offense that will put up ridiculous points on the Rams defense, but if the Cowboys are able to use Ezekiel Elliott to march down the field, running the ball and use up clock on long drives, this  game will be closer than people think.

Projection: Rams 28 – Cowboys 20


Sunday 1/13 1:05 p.m. Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots (CBS) 

This may be the most intriguing game of the weekend. The Chargers come in having finished the season with a 12-4 record and come into this game with an 8-1 record on the road including an impressive road victory over the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card round last week.

The Chargers have been an under the radar team all year and have snuck their way into the conversation as one of the best teams in the league. With Philip Rivers at the helm at 37 years old still seeking his first Super Bowl win, the Chargers have quietly become a Super Bowl contender. This is a team that can compete with and beat anyone in the league, especially on the road, and find themselves in a spot to make a significant push in this playoffs.

The Chargers are going to play a New England team this week that has not looked like the same dominant Patriots we are all used to. Finishing with an 11-5 record in the regular season, the Patriots lost to multiple teams that finished the year with losing records. Everything from the regular season adds up to this being the year that the Patriots finally get knocked off earlier in the playoffs by a sneaky talented Chargers team. This being said it seems like we do this every year. Every year is the year that Patriots dynasty is over and Tom Brady is finally too old, until its not.

All cards seem to be in place for the Patriots to finally come crashing down this year but a bet against the Patriots historically, is a bad bet.

Projection: Patriots 27 – Chargers 24


Sunday 1/13 4:40 p.m. Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints (FOX)

The biggest story of this game is the magic of Nick Foles. This is the second year in a row that starting Quarterback Carson Wentz has had an injury and backup Nick Foles has come in at the end of the year to save the day. He came in for Wentz in week 14 of last season and went on an unimaginable run to win the next six of seven games including leading the Eagles to a Super Bowl win. It was one of the greatest stories we’ve seen in the NFL in years, a backup Quarterback coming in and leading a team to a Super Bowl win and winning the Super Bowl MVP at that. It’s no wonder that Foles was previously coached by former backup Quarterback Frank Reich, who led the Bills to a win after trailing by a 32-point deficit in the third quarter against the Houston Oilers in 1993.

Foles came in for the injured Wentz in week 15 of this season and won three games in a row to get the Eagles into the playoffs, but there’s no way he could lead the Eagles deep into the playoffs again, or so we think. He then went to Chicago last week and beat a 12-4 Bears team who were strong all year.

Now he travels to the dominant New Orleans Saints who are the favorite to win the Super Bowl at the moment. The Saints finished the year with a 13-3 record and have been a Super Bowl favorite for most of the year. Quarterback Drew Brees has been one of the best in the league for the majority of his career and is seeking his second Super Bowl win. The Saints have been the best team in the league for most of the regular season and now match up against the magic that is Nick Foles and the red hot Eagles.

If Nick Foles were to lead the Eagles to a win in New Orleans and go on another insane streak deep into the playoffs, the Eagles will have a very interesting controversy at the Quarterback position in the offseason. If there is any team to halt the Nick Foles magic, it’s Drew Brees and the 2018 New Orleans Saints.

Projection: Saints 31 – Eagles 30


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