2019 NFL Playoffs – Divisional Round Preview and Predictions

Welcome to the best weekend of the NFL season!

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Seriously, look at those matchups. This is great. The only thing that might have made it better is Seattle over Dallas. Then again a third Rams/Seahawks game probably isn’t necessary. Without further delay, my thoughts:

luck diving td vs kc (sb nation)
Andrew Luck dives into the end zone en route to the second biggest comeback in NFL playoff history. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Indianapolis Colts @ Kansas City Chiefs

4:35 p.m. ET Saturday, January 12, 2019

The hallowed Arrowhead Stadium plays host as Kansas City attempts to exercise some demons acquired on January 4, 2014, inside of Lucas Oil Stadium. On that day, KC led 31-10 at halftime and scored to extend the lead to 28 points quickly after the second half began. What happened after that is likely blocked out of all Chiefs’ fans memories as they blew the second largest lead in a playoff game in NFL history. I guess I should mention that they have played since then one time. It was Week 8 of the 2016 season. KC won in Indy 30-14, and it was Alex Smith and Nick Foles playing QB for the Chiefs that day. Also, some of the Colts weapons then were Frank Gore, Philip Dorsett, and Donte Moncrief. Suffice it to say that things have changed since then, but you know the Chiefs remember that fateful day just over five years ago.

Today, we have Andy Reid leading KC still and Andrew Luck back at the helm of the offense for Indy. He has always been a favorite of mine and I’m not sure why as I write this, but maybe because of videos like this one. Not to mention the dude is a very good QB…something I don’t know much about.

One significant change since the previous playoff meeting is Patrick Mahomes, as any NFL fan can tell you, the likely NFL MVP for the 2018 regular season. He took the league by storm this year to the tune of over 5,000 passing yards and 50 passing TDs. (Although, I do take issue with some of Mahomes’ “passing touchdowns“, he is without a doubt the most exciting first-year starter since… let me think… Saquon Barkley? Baker Mayfield? Man, the NFL is fun, isn’t it?).

This is probably the most exciting matchup of the weekend not only due to the awesome QBs but also Tyreek Hill (he runs away from both McCourty’s in that video and those dudes are not slow) and T.Y. Hilton.

It is snowing right now in Kansas City, but I’m skeptical that will have much of an impact. The temperature appears to be right around 30 degrees for game time. As far as weather impacting the game, I think that is mainly due to the wind which shouldn’t be a factor as it’s forecasted at 10 mph or lower for the duration of the contest. I think this game comes down to which defense forces a key turnover or maybe a special teams score. Perhaps Eric Berry can intercept Andrew Luck or Darius Leonard gets a strip sack to set up some points. Something along those lines or a Tyreek Hill punt return touchdown will be the difference. I’ll go with the home team, although backing Andy Reid in the playoffs seems to be asking for punishment.

Colts 31 – 35 Chiefs

 

gurley tackled vs dallas
Will the Cowboys be able to contain Todd Gurley tonight? (Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports)

Dallas Cowboys @ Los Angeles Rams

8:15 p.m. ET Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Rams clinched the NFC West in Week 13 and all three of their losses this season were against playoff teams. They are a well-oiled machine ready to make amends for last year’s playoff disappointment against the Falcons. There seems to be a narrative around the offense that since Cooper Kupp went down they just aren’t the same. I guess that could be true, but I just don’t believe that one receiver can damage a team that was generating headlines like this just a few months ago. The Rams are really good…I know, I know breaking news, right?

On the flip side, you have a team in Dallas that seemed much closer to firing their head coach than winning their division not too long ago. As recently as Week 9, they were generating headlines such as this one and this one and this one. They also have fired a coach this season (O-Line coach Paul Alexander) prior to that Week 9 Monday Night Football loss to the Titans. Since then, however, the Cowboys are on a roll. Winning eight of nine games and now they head on over to Los Angeles team that may have peaked a little too early this year.

The Cowboys are coached by the clapper (Jason Garrett, who I may or may not have wagered on to be the first coach fired this year, whoops). As you saw from the links above, more than one person thought he should be removed from his post just two months ago. The Rams are led by wunderkind and second-coming Sean McVay.

You tell me who has the advantage.

In all seriousness, I think this game comes down to which team can impose their will. If it becomes a shootout, how do the Rams lose? If it’s ball control and the Cowboys can get Zeke going, I can see them pulling off the upset. My pick:

Cowboys 20 – 31 Rams

 

Rivers vs Brady.jpg
Phil Rivers and Tom Brady meet for the 9th time. Get your popcorn ready. (AP)

Los Angeles Chargers @ New England Patriots

1:05 p.m. ET Sunday, January 13, 2019

I’m just going to start this with saying I am picking the Chargers to win the game. Let’s get that bias out of the way here.

Obviously picking against Tom Brady is not a smart way to go about life. He is probably the best QB of all-time. However, as they say, father time is undefeated. I’m not trying to say that 41-year old, San Mateo, CA-native, and noted Ugg enthusiast Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr. (holy shit did you guys know this dude has FOUR first names? Shit Junior could be one… FIVE first names….) is washed up by any stretch. However, if you were 41-years old, have a model wife, five Super Bowl rings, and three NFL MVPs would you want to get lit up by Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa? The answer is no.

In my opinion, this Charger team is the second best in the AFC to Kansas City. With that said, going to Foxboro and winning is not easy if you aren’t wearing red, white, and blue, and the Pats are undefeated at home this year. The Chargers are undefeated outside the city of Los Angeles this season. Something has to give.

I’m going to say Brady will get sacked once or twice and then get happy feet and rush some throws and human-football-homing-missile Derwin James will make him pay by being in the right place at the right time with a pick 6.

Chargers 27 – 24 Patriots

 

kamara vs eagles
Alvin Kamara runs away from the Eagles defense as the Saints demolish the Eagles 48-7 earlier this season. (USA Today)

Philadelphia Eagles @ New Orleans Saints

4:40 p.m. ET Sunday, January 13, 2019

The final matchup of the NFL’s quarterfinals features yet another regular season rematch. I’m sure about zero people were backing the Eagles to make the playoffs following that game as New Orleans laid the smack down on Philly’s candy-asses. The Saints won 48-7 in Week 11 seemingly putting the proverbial final nail into the coffin of the Eagles’ 2018 season. Of course, we know now that Philly would reel off five wins in their final six games with the only loss coming in overtime to division-rival and fellow playoff team Dallas. Not only that, but the Eagles seem to be benefitting from some type of divine power (Foles’ magic anyone) as Bears kicker Cody Parkey’s game-winning field goal attempt hit not one, but two goal posts on its way to missing and sending the Eagles to the next round.

As for New Orleans, the recent narrative is that their offense has struggled lately. I think that mostly became a public opinion as a result of them playing on Thursday Night Football on national TV and putting up only 10 points at Dallas and then on Monday Night Football, once again in the national spotlight, struggling to move the ball and scoring only 12 points at Carolina. In between those games, the Saints took care of Tampa Bay 28-14 on the road. Finally, in the penultimate regular-season matchup hosting the Steelers, they won 31-28 and effectively removed them from the playoff picture. You can throw out Week 17 as little-to-no starters played in that game. The fact is New Orleans has a very good offense, as rated by nearly any metric you can find.

Something concerning to me is that Drew Brees led the NFL in Game Winning Drives and Comebacks. Now you might be thinking: Hambone, are you dumb? That means Drew Brees is really good at QB. And I would say, yes, I agree; however, this also means that the Saints were losing or playing very close games into the 4th quarter. To me, that is playing with fire, and if recent events are any indication, the Eagles will have that Foles’ Magic on their side and maybe, just maybe, the ball will smack the upright–and the crossbar–after coming off of Will Lutz’ trusty right foot, and miss. Either way, I think we’re in for some entertaining football inside the Superdome.

Eagles 20 – 28 Saints

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