If it wasn't for this hit, and some of the worst officiating of all time I would've gone an astounding 4/4 (100%) picking winners during the wild-card round.
However thanks to Travis Kelce's concussion and the Kansas City Chiefs being immune from winning home playoff games I had to settle for 3/4.
It's my own fault for believing in Kansas City. But it's okay because we've got quite the slate of games this weekend.
Divisional weekend is considered by many to be the best weekend of football all year. I am one of those many. The divisional playoffs are responsible for some of the greatest moments in NFL history. I feel like I said this exact same sentence in previous blogs but it's true! However this year we aren't doing presents. This year I won't give example, you're reading this, you obviously have internet access, go on wikipedia and have yourself a nice research filled afternoon after you finish reading this.
Here are your Divisional Round matchups.
(6) Atlanta Falcons 11-6 @ (1) Philadelphia Eagles 13-3
Saturday 4:35 PM NBC
Now I bet you're thinking
"Doz/Ryan (depending on your relationship with me), that's a picture of Michael Vick and Brian Dawkins along with a tight end on the Falcons that neither of us could identify blocking Derrick Burgess in the back, why did you chose this picture?"
Well friend, because we're gonna go with throwback pictures for this year's blog. Now that's out of the way..
The obvious story line in this game is the fact that the Eagles will be playing without QB Carson Wentz who still is out for the season with a torn ACL. Sucks for them!
In fact the Philadelphia Eagles are underdogs at home! OMG! This game is the first in NFL history where a 6 seed is favored over a 1 seed in the Divisional Round.
Although let me be honest with you, even had Carson Wentz not gotten hurt, I still was going to pick the Eagles to lose their first playoff game this year. I like Wentz but I just had a gut feeling the Eagles wouldn't be for real come playoff time. I could've sworn I tweeted that at some point this season but could not find proof of that. Oh well, you'll just have to trust me with that one!
With the exception of the Giants, I feel like NFC East teams just don't win in the playoffs. Now with Nick Foles at QB in Phily I am even more confident that trend will continue. Even though I still think the Falcons are kind of frauds, and if there was ever a team to find a way to lose to Nick Foles in the playoffs it'd somehow be them, I'm taking the Falcons to win. The Falcons sure did luck out as a 6 seed this year. Get the Rams who aren't ready for prime time just yet, now the Eagles with a backup QB. Maybe God feels bad for them for blowing the biggest lead in Super Bowl history!
(5) Tennessee Titans 10-7 @ (1) New England Patriots 13-3
Saturday 8:15 PM CBS
A lot has changed since the last time the Patriots and Titans met in the playoffs. Steve McNair was still very much alive (RIPIP) and Donald Trump was just a billionaire reality game show host with sideline access.
Most people are totally writing off the Titans, they're a young team that nearly went from 8-4 to missing the playoffs against the mighty 13-3 Patriots eyeing for their 7th straight AFC Championship game.
You've got Shaughnessy making the same crappy jokes he's been making for years.
DJ Bean said the Titans would need 10 Air Buds to beat the Pats.
I on the other hand am not going to make such a silly claim. It's almost like people are forgetting how bad the Patriots defense is. Here are a few stats:
The Patriots defense is:
- 29th in the NFL in yards allowed
- 30th in the NFL in pass defense
- 20th in the NFL in rush defense
- 24th in first downs allowed
- 5th in points allowed
You could say they've mastered the bend but don't break defense.
However I think it's bad news bears for the Patriots defense in this match up. Granted it was earlier in the season, and they've made adjustments but when they faced athletic QBs that could run in Alex Smith, DeShaun Watson and Cam Newton they completely dominated. If it wasn't for a miracle Tom Brady TD drive they would've gone 0-3 in those games, which were all played in Foxboro. Now the Patriots find themselves facing another mobile QB in Marcus Mariota.
There's no denying Marcus Mariota had a down year, 13 TD 15 INT. But last week he showed glimpse of the star QB in the making he was after his first two seasons, and when the chips were down he did everything and more to beat the Chiefs.
Derrick Henry has broken onto the scene as of late and could give this front 7 nightmares. While the Patriots have the advantage of playing at home, in elements that Tennessee is not used to I think it's absolutely insane that most are just considering this game a forgone Patriots victory.
While I think the Patriots will win IMO there's a very high chance the Titans cover the 13.5 point spread. What the Patriots have in their favor is history. Tom Brady is 9-0 in Saturday night playoff games. But it's the playoffs....anything can happen!
TBH I am a little worried based on his play to end the season, and the Titans ability to dominate the run game, therefore keeping the ball out of Tom Brady's beautiful, God like hands.
I also can't help but address the elephant in the room, me.
Nashville has been haunting me, I should've have left, and it would just be the ultimate cherry on top of a shitty year sundae for the Titans to end the Patriots season.
Despite everything I just said, I do think the Patriots find a way to win this game. It reminds me a lot of their game against Houston last year in the divisional round where they let the Texans hang around but broke away late. I really do think the Titans will cover, but it wouldn't shock me if they didn't. That's kind of talking out of both sides of my mouth but whatever. I'm going against the grain and saying the Pats just squeak it out. I'll look like an idiot when they by 24 but that's okay as long as they win.
(3) 11-6 Jacksonville Jaguars @ (2) 13-3 Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday 1:05 PM CBS
In week 5 the Jaguars shocked the NFL by absolutely murdering the Steelers 30-9 in Pittsburgh. As an owner of both team's D/ST in fantasy they sure shocked me as I started the Steelers D and missed out on a 30 fantasy point explosion! It's okay though that's just for fun. What wasn't fun (for Pittsburgh) was BIg Ben's performance at afternoon. The Jaguars defense picked off Big Ben 5 times and brought 2 of them back for touchdowns! He stunk!
Before squeaking out a 10-3 victory of the Buffalo Bills in a game that saw more punts than points the Jaguars most previous playoff victory came against the Steelers at Heinz Field in the 2007 Wild Card Round.
Experts are expecting this game to be much different from week 5, but guess what I am not an expert. Sure I am a little biased because I hate the Steelers but I've been saying for weeks that the Jaguars are going to beat them again and the playoffs and what kind of man would I be if I didn't stick to it?
I think the Steelers are rushing Antonio Brown back too early, and while Blake Bortles only threw for 87 yards last week, let's not forget he was dealing with gale force 3-7 mph winds.
The Jaguar defense is no joke and if Blake Bortles can just be okay I think the Jags have a great chance of pulling off the upset.
(4) 12-5 New Orleans Saints @ (2) Minnesota Vikings 13-3
Sunday 4:40 PM FOX
Did you know that Minnesota is hosting the Super Bowl this year?
Probably not, it's been a well kept secret in the NFL this year.
One thing I will say, before I say a bunch of stuff is that the Saints sure are lucky to be playing this week. Sean Payton's bonehead decision to go for it on 4th and 2 at midfield up 5 instead of punting nearly backfired. In a weird series of events, the Panthers interception Drew Bree's 4th down pass actually helped the Saints out as it pinned the Panthers farther back, in a way acting like a punt. But they survived and get to face the Minnesota Vikings.
This game is predicted to be the game of the week and I agree, it should be the NFC Championship game as IMO these are the two best teams in the NFC, however due to seeding it did not work out that way. I do however believe whoever wins this game will end up playing in the Super Bowl.
These two teams met up way back in week 1 when Vikings beat the Saints 29-19. That game was started by Sam Bradford so it doesn't really hold any barring for this match up.
Case Keenum has been a pleasant surprise for Minnesota going 11-3 as the starter with 22 touchdown passes to only 7 INT. The journeyman back up has had a nice year for sure! The dude just keeps winning. It felt like every week he was bound to come back to earth and give up the reigns to Teddy Bridgewater, but it never happened.
Sadly, it ends this week.
As a narrative guy, one that always rings true (unlike the Vikings cause they have no rings! lol) is heartbreak come playoff time for the Minnesota Vikings. They're 0-4 in the Super Bowl. Gary Anderson miss in 98 NFC CG, Brett throwing against the grain, Blair Walsh, I don't need to pile on.
While many would say true Viking heartbreak would need to come later in the playoffs, I still think this would be quite the blow. After the Falcons beat the Eagles Saturday the winner of this game is going to know that they'll host the NFC Championship game. So they'll know they have a great chance to have their entire playoff run at home. Bad news for them, it'll be a one game run.
Sadly for Vikings fans, like in 2009 they are facing the New Orleans Saints. Like 2009 the Saints will beat the Vikings. I just simply don't think the universe will allow their to be a scenario where a Drew Brees lead team loses to a Case Keenum lead team. Although Eli Manning is 2-0 vs Tom Brady so I guess anything is possible, and much like those Giants teams the Vikings defense is nasty.
Saints however have been my NFC Super Bowl pick and I'm riding with them. This game should be the game of the weekend.