The true intrigue of the playoffs is that anything can happen. Unlike basketball, baseball, or hockey, the NFL playoffs are even more exciting due to the fact that one loss and you’re done. It makes it far more likely that underdogs can prevail and therefore creates an exciting atmosphere for every game. The underdogs certainly showed up last week, with 3 of the 4 winners being the higher seed (Colts, Chargers, and Eagles). After a crazy week of almost blowing big leads and double-doinks, the football world eagerly awaits the matchups this week.
1. Colts @ Chiefs:
After embarrassing the Texans, the Colts are the hottest team in the playoffs. Couple this with lackluster performances by the Chiefs ever since the release of Kareem Hunt, and the Colts are a trendy upset pick among analysts. All signs point to this game being a shootout. The Colts offensive line has been unreal this year (as I’m sure you know after it was touted by the announcers last week several hundred times). The Chiefs defense, alternatively, has been pretty miserable. The one bright point has been the d-line, but with the Colts offensive line primed to shut them down, the Colts should be pretty unstoppable on offense. The Colts defense has been way better than they have in recent memory, but they aren’t built to stop a unit as powerful as the Chiefs. It should be a great battle, but as much as I want the Colts to win, the power of Arrowhead will propel the Chiefs to victory.
Final Score: Chiefs 38 – Colts 35
2. Cowboys @ Rams:
The Cowboys showed a whole lot of grit in their win against Seattle. Losing a teammate to such a gruesome injury early on can often spell death for a team, but Dallas overcame this and got their third playoff win in the last two decades. Now a tough test against the Rams in Los Angeles. The Rams have been resting Gurley the past few weeks and now with the bye, he should be coming back 100%. This matchup is very intriguing, as the powerful Rams offense will square up against the strong Cowboys defense. On the flip side, Dallas’ offense has been inconsistent all year long and the Rams defense has yet to play up to even half of their potential. I’ve been saying all year that the Rams are overrated (mostly due to few impressive victories), but it will still certainly be an uphill battle for Dallas given the talent disparity between the two teams. Despite this, I’m gonna roll with the upset. The only really good defense they played all season was the Bears, where they only scored 6 points. I don’t believe that the Cowboys’ defense is much worse than the Bears and Dallas’ offense should be able to run Zeke down the Rams’ throats if they so choose.
Final Score: Cowboys 23 – Rams 17
3. Chargers @ Patriots:
Two quarterbacks who may be realistic Super Bowl winners for the last times in their careers. For Brady, a ring would just be icing on an already covered cake. For Rivers, it may mean the difference between making the Hall of Fame or not (to be clear, I think he should make it anyways, but it’s hard for a QB with no ring). The Patriots are undefeated at home and the Chargers are undefeated outside of LA. The formula to beat Brady has always been managing to get pressure with 4 and not giving him a lot of possessions. The Chargers are primed to do both of these, with a talented defensive line and an elite RB. For the Patriots, look for them to try to run Sony Michel early and often. If they can get early success, they will incorporate the play action and LA will be in trouble. This should be a great matchup, but I’m not going to bet on Brady and Belichick going one-and done in the playoffs, even if the roster this year is not as talented as in years prior.
Final Score: Patriots 28 – Chargers 24
4. Eagles @ Saints:
I think it’s a shock to almost everyone that the Eagles not only made the playoffs, but knocked out the Bears at Soldier Field on the back of Nick Foles. They now go up against the Saints in New Orleans, where they lost 48-7 earlier this year. There is certainly some magic around Nick Foles and this Eagles team, but the Saints are something special this year. The talent on the roster has been unbelievable. Brees is having as good of a year as he ever has. Michael Thomas catches everything within a 10 mile radius of himself. The Saints have to be the Super Bowl favorites at this point. As much as the Eagles run was fun, the Saints couldn’t have asked for an easier matchup. Saints take this game fairly easily. Sorry Philly.
Final Score: Saints 34 – Eagles 17