NFL Playoffs – Divisional Round Picks Preview

That’s right Alshon, we see you and the rest of your boys. You’re here, you’ve earned it. I gotta say, the division that I labelled calling a Dumpster fire earlier in the season has still got two playoff teams left. Whilst the NFC North has none, think about that. Actually, both Northern Divisions are the only two divisions with no playoff football. Perennial playoff contenders over recent memory with the Vikings, Packers, Steelers and Ravens. Even splashings of the Lions and Bengals, but no teams this year. It’s the East and West dominating with two AFC West and two NFC East. After a week off, our favourites are all rested and good to go as we see the Saints, Chiefs, Rams and Patriots all back in action this week in what will hopefully be a week where the highest score isn’t 24 points from the Cowboys.

Chiefs vs Colts

Here we see the hottest team in the AFC (hint, it’s not the Chiefs) The Colts have only lost one game since Week 7, to the Jags. By comparison, the Chiefs have lost 3 in that time, granted 2/3 of those losses came at the hands of teams still in the playoffs and the other came from the Seahawks in comparison to the Colts being shutout by the Jags. But, this Colts team is no joke, with All Pro’s on both sides of the ball they’re a force to be reckoned with. The big issue for KC here is their lack of defence, they can sack the QB but the can’t get stops and allow opponents to score on them. Luckily, they’ve got the youngest ever QB to throw for 5,000 yards and 50 TDs in a single season. The offence has taken a step back since Hunt was cut, but Williams and Ware are doing a decent job. The big thing for the Colts is the questionable health of Ryan Kelly. In games he’s missed they’ve struggled, unable to get the run game going. Andy Reid has a questionable history in the playoffs at best, as do the Chiefs themselves. I’d love to take the Colts here and nearly all of me wants to, as I actually think they will win. But, I said at the beginning of the year that it’d be Rams vs Chiefs in the Superbowl and I can’t back out now.

Oz’s Pick: Chiefs

Rams vs Cowboys

I was tempted to turn this whole write up into a Cowboys hate section, but I’ll be a grown up and actually give them credit where it’s due. They deserve to be here, and their victory over the Seahawks showed that. The issue is the Rams are a whole different kind of beast. Granted, they haven’t looked the same since Kupp went down, but they’re still one of the scariest offences in the league when they get going. Aaron Donald is going to demand consistent double teams but the ‘Boys do have the personnel to do so, especially with Zack Martin on the inside. Getting Zeke going and giving Dak the possibility of the play-action is paramount, as is getting Cooper the ball. Since the trade, any game he’s gotten 8 or more targets in he’s been an absolute stud. For LA, the game plan will be similar, feed Gurley early and often and get those great LB’s of Dallas biting run. Then look for Woods and Cooks running free in the secondary. After what Dallas showed me last week I’m a little less sure about this matchup than I previously would have been. However, I still feel confident about the other half of my SB prediction.

Oz’s Pick: Rams

Patriots vs Chargers

Moving into Sunday’s games we see a true underdog vs favourite matchup. Phillip Rivers has never beaten Tom Brady, ever. In fact, none of the other remaining AFC QB’s have, that’s insane. The Divisional round has become a bit of a formality for the Patriots over the recent years, always expecting to make the AFC Championship game. This is the first time they’ve looked shaky (or as shaky as a Pats team can) Gronk doesn’t look anything like Gronk, you can see exactly why Bill was looking at trading him before the season started and Brady is finally looking his age. Gordon might be a bigger loss than we know, but once again this game will stem around the defence. Can they stop the Chargers? And for the Chargers, will Melvin Gordon be healthy? We’ve seen them cope kind of without him, but this is the best chance Rivers has ever had of getting a ring and beating Brady, but he’ll need healthy Melvin to do so. Interestingly, Hunter Henry has practiced in full this week after his activation from the PUP list, so there’s another possible weapon there that could take some strain off Gordon in the passing game. I’m going to be hopeful in my pick purely because I don’t want Brady anywhere near the AFC Championship game.

Oz’s Pick: Chargers

Saints vs Eagles

The final game of the weekend gives us the team that many had pegged as Super Bowl favourites coming into the Playoffs vs the team that barely scraped in and no one gave a chance against the Bears. Then BDN (Big Dick Nick) happened and so did the “Double Doink” and here we are, staring down another possible fairytale Super Bowl run from the Eagles. For Philly, they need to keep Brees off the field, clock management and maintaining possession are musts. The Bears may have had the best defence in the Playoffs, but they had nowhere near the Offence to completely exploit the deficiencies in the Eagles secondary and Robinson still went OFF. I have no illusions about the Saints not being able to do the same or even more. Foles will have his work cut out for him and will need top-shelf performances from Ertz, Tate and Jeffrey. One player whose emergence I’m really enjoying is Dallas Goedert, if he keeps this up, we could see a Hernandez/Gronkowski ala 2011 season from the two Tight ends in Philly in years to come. It’s been an incredible run for the Eagles to get this far, and I’m sure they’d love to avenge the 48-7 from earlier in the year. Now I don’t think it will be that bad, but I’m still confident in the Saints.

Oz’s Pick: Saints

Well, that’s my picks for this week. Only 3 weeks lest essentially not counting the Pro-Bowl. After that, I get to crawl into hibernation and truly commiserate both the Ravens loss and my Fantasy season. (I did lose the Final in the end) Reminder, we are keeping this week’s picks open until mid-Saturday afternoon, so if you haven’t done so yet, get them in.

Ciao for now,
Oz.

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