After Wildcard Weekend, we now move into the Divisional Round with 4 more match ups over Saturday and Sunday.
What we did we learn from last week? Never say never and a lead is not enough however big it is if you can’t defend it! The Kansas City Chiefs certainly couldn’t defend a 21-3 half time lead at all. QB Alex Smith was running the show, RB Kareem Hunt had one touchdown and TE Travis Kelce another, whilst Titans QB Marcus Mariota was unable to get anything going.
And then it spectacularly fell apart for the Chiefs as Kelce left the game with an injury, the run was nullified and Mariota and the Titans stormed back to seal a tight game 22-21 and a visit to AFC Number 1 seeds the New England Patriots on Saturday night/Sunday morning UK time. After a week off, the Pats return to action looking to seal a return to the Superbowl and at the age of 40 QB Tom Brady is looking for a 6th Superbowl Ring for the current Vince Lombardi Trophy holders. The team however have shown signs they are not as invincible as previous years and Brady is more inclined to stay in the pocket than a year ago.
But before those two face off, the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC will also look for a return to the Superbowl as they head to the Number 1 seeded Philadelphia Eagles. The Falcons saw off the LA Rams last weekend despite Rams QB Jared Goff throwing for more than 250 yards and RB Todd Gurley notching another 100 yard running game. The Eagles do not look the same team since QB Carson Wentz suffered a season ending ACL injury despite the fact Nick Foles is a competent replacement and he has the same weapons available to him that has taken the Eagles into the play offs.
First up on Sunday, London’s team the Jacksonville Jaguars head to Pittsburgh in the AFC buoyed by their first play off appearance since 2007. However, they will find a tough proposition in the Steelers, eager to get to Superbowl 52 and to add their 6 Superbowl wins, the most for any franchise. The 3 pronged attack of Roethlisberger, Bell and Brown should have enough to see off a Jaguars defense, despite the fact they are enjoying one of their best years in Jacksonville.
The final match up looks like being the game of the weekend where the impressive New Orleans Saints head to the Minnesota Vikings hoping to knock out the team who will host Superbowl 52. The Saints defense held firm at the very end against Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers last weekend despite the Panthers notching 14 points in the 4th quarter. Both sides struggled to get the run game going, but succeeded with the pass with Newton and Drew Bress both throwing over 300 yards each.
The Vikings should be fresh after a week’s break and will be keen to ensure they are the first franchise ever to play in the Superbowl they host, it promises to be a good shoot-out between QB’s Brees and Case Keenum with weapons galore available to both teams to hurt the other.
As far as predictions go, for the AFC you can’t really look past New England and Pittsburgh, whilst in the NFC, it has to be the Falcons as the Eagles look a completely different side without Wentz whilst the Saints-Vikings is very close to call, but I’ll stick my neck out for the Saints, I feel Brees has the experience to go to the pass game if he can’t get it going on the ground.