Last week there were a lot of exciting games in the Wild Card Round of the NFL Playoffs, but now we are going into a few games where there are some heavy hitters just starting their postseason and things could get a little interesting. However, this round has the makings of just as exciting, if not more exciting, games as we dig a little deeper into the football postseason. With that being said, let’s look at the matchups.
American Football Conference
Kansas City Chiefs vs Indianapolis Colts
The Colts showed why they deserved to be in the playoffs as they didn’t make anything easy against the Houston Texans with their defense dominating and quarterback Andrew Luck having an outstanding game as he threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns to lead Indianapolis to a 21-7 victory in Houston. However, they will need everything to go right if they want to beat Kansas City. The Chiefs are a high octane powerhouse and Colts may be in for a rude awakening, but defense wins championships and their hope is that their defense can continue to help them as much as possible.
Kansas City has a very exciting quarterback leading their offense in Patrick Mahomes who threw a staggering 50 touchdowns this season and this is coming in his first full year as a starter in the league. The kid can play, however, he’s going to have to show some maturity as the playoffs are a whole different scenario and any mistake made could be costly. That being said, the offense is incredible as they boast so many key players like running backs Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West, wide receivers Chris Conley, Sammy Watkins, Kelvin Benjamin, and Tyreek Hill, and arguably the best tight end in the game Travis Kelce. However, they lost an awesome player in running back Kareem Hunt as they released him because of allegations due to abusing a woman, and there are questions as to whether that will hurt the offense. The biggest problem for the Chiefs is that their defense isn’t exactly all that strong. The defense was one of the bigger reasons why the team was successful in the past, but this unit has struggled all season. That being said, they still have some key players like cornerbacks Kendall Fuller and Orlando Scandrick, safety Eric Berry, and linebackers Reggie Ragland and Justin Houston. If the Chiefs will want to win this game, their defense will need to have to step up big time. Also, they will have to hope some key players like Berry, Ware, and Watkins are healthy.
Colts: Since Week Seven, the Colts offense has averaged 28 points.
Chiefs: The defense ranked 31st in total defense and 24th in points allowed with 26.3.
James Rowe: Chiefs. While I think the Colts have a legitimate chance, the Chiefs offense is just too good beat. The offense will make up for how much their defense gives up as this will come down to the wire.
Tabari McCoy: Chiefs. The luck runs out for Andrew & Co. as the Chiefs d-line pressures Andrew Luck to force to T. Y. Hilton too much in a game that is not the shoot out everyone hopes it will be & is much closer in a grinder.
Boomer Dangel: Chiefs.
Los Angeles Chargers vs New England Patriots
While they held on to dear life last week against Baltimore 23-17 in the final minutes, Los Angeles was not very impressive despite winning the contest. The Chargers have a lot of weapons like running backs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler, wide receivers Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, and Mike Williams, and the ageless wonder in tight end Antonio Gates with quarterback Philip Rivers leads the charge. That being said, the offense wasn’t that impressive against the Ravens as they weren’t as efficient as usual. That needs to change if they want to play the Patriots who know how to win. However, good news on the offensive front is that tight end Hunter Henry has been activated and might be able to play as he is a huge weapon. Also, the defense is one of the bigger reasons why the team won as they shut down Baltimore’s offense who employ an exciting young quarterback in Lamar Jackson. The defensive line is underrated as they have a great defensive end in Joey Bosa and helping him out is defensive end in Melvin Ingram. The Chargers also has some great players in their secondary with safety Derwin James and cornerback Casey Heyward. The defense will have to continue that same success if they want to win against New England.
New England was once a beacon of consistency. While they did make the Super Bowl last season, there’s something different about this team the past two season. One is that the defense has significantly struggled the past two years despite having some quality players on their team. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower, cornerback Stephon Gimore, and safeties Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung headline the defense, but this has been a very inconsistent unit this season. The offense though, is always productive as they are led by the most successful quarterback in NFL history in Tom Brady who, despite playing in his 40s with a declining skill set, manages to find ways to win games especially in the clutch. He lost his biggest weapon in wide receiver Josh Gordon to suspension, but he does boast key players in tight end Rob Gronkowski, arguably the best tight end in the league, running backs Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel, and James White, and wide receivers Julian Edelmann, Phillip Dorsett, and Chris Hogan. The offense will have to outperform the Chargers if they want win this game.
Chargers: 7-1 on the road during regular season.
Patriots: 8-0 at home during regular season.
James: Chargers. It’s always tough to pick against the Patriots, especially with them playing at home, but the New England defense has been subpar this year and Los Angeles’ offense has been great.
Tabari: Patriots. Brady eeks out a win in Foxboro over the gunslinger in his last hurrah playoff-wise as Bill Belichick gets one more win before the wheels fall off
National Football Conference
Dallas Cowboys vs Los Angeles Rams
Dallas executed a great game plan as their defense showed how good they really are and why the Cowboys deserved to be in the playoffs as they defeated Seattle 24-22. Running back Ezekiel Elliot was a big part of that success as he rushed for 137 yards and scored a touchdown as he helped Dallas win. While the defense played well against Seattle’s offense, facing the Rams will be no easy task. While the Cowboys boast a very talented running back in Elliot, Los Angeles might boast the best running back in the league and that will be very tough for the Dallas defense. Another key to win the game is how will the offensive line hold a very explosive Rams defensive line that can always give any offensive line problems, but the Cowboys have one of the best in the league. If their offensive line can hold up Los Angeles’ defensive line, Elliot should have no problems. That being said, it will be a very difficult game as they are seen as the underdogs. Other key players that will need to be on their game is quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper.
Los Angeles might be the most complete team in the league as they are awesome offensively and have a very stout defense. They boast Todd Gurley, one of the best running backs in the league if not the best, and a very tough defensive line with such players as Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh. But their defense also boasts some key players at linebacker such as Dante Fowler and Mark Barron, cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, and safety Lamarcus Joyner. With quarterback Jared Goff leading the charge on offense, this will be a very tough team to beat no matter how good their opponent and they might be the best in the league. They will pressure the Cowboys offensive line a lot and their offense will keep Dallas on their toes at all times. No wonder they are seen as the favorites here.
Cowboys: Defense allowed 20.3 points per game during regular season. Against playoff teams, they allowed just 19.8 points per game.
Rams: Offense averaged 28.5 points per game during the regular season.
James: Rams. While I think the Dallas defense will do their best to keep them in the game, the Los Angeles defense is so disruptive that they will wreak havoc on the Cowboys offense.
Tabari: Rams. It will be a CLOSE game.
Philadelphia Eagles vs New Orleans Saints
Philadelphia’s defense managed to shut down an Bears offense which has a lot of weapons and won 16-15. That being said, the offense was not very good as the running game was essentially shut down and the Eagles had to turn to the passing game, which while is always risky, turned out to be it’s saving grace. The defense was outstanding and was the big reason why they won, but Philadelphia will be facing probably the best offense in the league in which have put so many points against many teams during the season. That offense belongs to the New Orleans Saints as the Saints beat them 48-7 in Week 11. While he didn’t play his best game, quarterback Nick Foles will have to be on his game in this contest in order to have any success, plus the defense, lead by Fletcher Cox and Michael Bennett. Those two can wreak havoc on any offensive line and will have to put a lot of pressure on the Saints. The Eagles will have to play an almost perfect game for them to win as they are clearly the underdogs in this contest.
New Orleans is a very dangerous side as they have no problem racking up points as if it was with ease and the root of their success is their quarterback Drew Brees who may be having the best season of his career. He also boasts some incredible weapons like wide receiver Michael Thomas and running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. The defense isn’t half bad as they have some key players like defensive end Cameron Jordan and cornerback Marshon Lattimore. That being said, the Saints defense will have to matchup or outperform Philadelphia as much they possibly can as their offense should have no problem scoring points in this game. They are after all the favorite to win this contest.
Eagles: Finished 30th in league in Team Opponent Passing Yards per Game with 270.5.
Saints: In Team Points per Game, New Orleans finished third with 31.5. Won only matchup this season.
James: Saints. Eagles got lucky last week and the defense is about to face a juggernaut offense that will be too much to handle.
Tabari: Saints. Can Nick Foles keep up with his magic? Nope.
One thought on “Previewing 2018/19 NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round”
Good going James—-very good analysis. Bob Collins ( a distant acquaintance from Pine bush, N.Y.}