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Atlanta Falcons

NFL Divisional Round Preview

Photo: Brad Rempel, USA TODAY Sports

Saturday, 4:35 pm ET: Falcons (10-6) vs. Eagles (13-3)

With two of the NFL’s strongest offenses on the field, defense will be the difference maker in this matchup. The Atlanta Falcons rank 7th in total offense and are the reigning NFC champions. As for the Philadelphia Eagles they rank 8th in total offense and are 13-3 on the season. With Carson Wentz down, the Eagles will be starting Nick Foles. Foles has a 50.0 rating according to Pro Football Focus. AKA, He has not been good when he’s started; putting up two interceptions and just five scores. Facing the number fourth ranked defense and number one against the rush, these Eagles will be in for a long night against the Falcons. Patrick Robinson of the Eagles, who’s had a tremendous season will have to guard Julio Jones, who has established himself as a top two receiver in the NFL in recent years. Atlanta is loaded with offensive weapons and even though they’ll face one of the NFL’s best defenses, I would not be surprised to see the Falcons finish on top of this one.

Saturday, 8:15 pm ET: Titans (9-7) vs Patriots (13-3)

The 9-7 Titans will face the 13-3 Patriots in Foxboro. Tom Brady and the Patriots are a 13.5 point favorite heading into this game. But you can’t count out the Titans. The Titans are a team that is on fire right now and it starts with their run game. They have a talented defense, but no elite coverage guy. They will have a problem locking up Gronk and Brady. Watching Travis Kelce (for the short time he was in), in the Wild Card going for a big game, it’s clear they will be in trouble if they do not figure out how to stop a tight end. Other than that, on defense the Titans match up fine, especially seeing Brady with a broken bone in his hand. I imagine the Titans running the ball a lot and trying to keep Tom Brady off the field as much as possible. The Patriots are the favorite and definitely have the upper hand, because they have Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Bill Belichek. But don’t be surprised if the run of six straight Conference Championships come to an end against the underdog Titans.

 

Sunday, 1:05 pm ET: Jaguars (10-6) vs Steelers (13-3)

The “Sacksonville” Jaguars (10-6) come in against the flashy and talented Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3) offense and it will be a great matchup. We will get to see the top young corner, Jalen Ramsey, go up against the best receiver in football, Antonio Brown, who is coming off of a torn calf muscle. You can see the scary defensive front of Jacksonville with Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson and Yannick Ngakoue. The Jags’ defense is easily the most talented and they will go up against an offense with a top running back (Le’Veon Bell), quarterback (Ben Rothlisberger) and wide receiver (Antonio Brown). I think Jacksonville can hold this offense to under 21 points, but I don’t believe they will have the same kind of success on offense. Jacksonville’s offense is bad and nothing more. They have Blake Bortles at quarterback, who has had a good year – for Blake Bortles – and they have a talented young running back in Leonard Fournette. However, the Jags the will have to face the Steelers’ very talented and physical defense. You should expect to see a very emotional and physical game with the Steelers coming on top.

 

Sunday, 4:40 pm ET: Saints vs Vikings

The new and improved New Orleans Saints will go up against the remade Purple People Eaters of the Minnesota Vikings. For once, the Saints’ offense is not led by Drew Brees but led by a two-headed monster in the backfield, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. The Saints will have to figure out how to move the ball against the number one defense in total yards per game (275.9), scoring defense (15.8) and number two in rushing yards per game (83.6). This amazing defense for Minnesota has the potential to carry a decent offense to the Super Bowl and they can definitely stop the Saints’ run game. However, on the offensive side of the ball, the Vikings will be in trouble. Case Keenum has had a great season and has great targets around him in Stefon Diggs, Adam Theilen and Kyle Rudolph. With that being said, they are a better running team. The Vikings are able to throw the ball off of the run, but moving the ball through the air will not be easy against this defense. The Saints defense is led by edge defender Cameron Jordan and rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore. I don’t see the Saints having much trouble stopping the Vikings, but no defense is perfect. I believe that whichever team makes the most mistakes on the offensive side of the ball will lose – and I can see that being the Saints – in part out of frustration by not being able to move the ball against the best defense in the NFL. If any team has the chance to stop this hot and young Saints team, it is the Vikings.

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