It’s playoff time! The most exciting time of the year has finally arrived for fans who love watching postseason football and for the 12 teams that are playing to make it to the Super Bowl. However, the top two seed in each conference will not be playing as thy have a first-round bye, and those teams are the New England Patriots (1st seed in AFC), the Pittsburgh Steelers (2nd seed in AFC), the Philadelphia Eagles (1st seed in NFC), and the Minnesota Vikings (2nd seed in AFC). The teams that will be playing on Saturday are the Tennessee Titans (5th seed in AFC) will take on the Kansas City Chiefs (4th seed in AFC) while the Atlanta Falcons (6th seed in NFC) and the Los Angeles Rams (3rd seed in NFC). On Sunday, the Buffalo Bills (6th seed in AFC) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (3rd seed in AFC) while the Carolina Panthers (5th seed in NFC) take on the New Orleans Saints (4th seed in NFC). So let’s get into it!
Chiefs 26, Titans 19; 4:35pm ESPN
This could be a very close game if both defenses struggle to stop the opposing offense, but either way, this game should be close. The Titans will put up a strong fight but the offense has been inconsistent all season long, especially with the run game, and DeMarco Murray could be out for this game as he suffered a knee injury two weeks ago. The same goes for Mariota as he had a very disappointing regular season and threw more interceptions (15) than he did TDs (13).
As for the Chiefs, they have a strong chance of advancing to the next round of the playoffs since they are at home and they have more playoff experience than the Titans do. The Chiefs also have two explosive players in the Kareem Hunt, the league’s leading rusher, and Tyreek Hill. Alex Smith will have to carry the team if the run game is shut down. Expect the Chiefs to walk away with a win and advance to the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Rams 24, Falcons 20; 8:15pm NBC
This is going to be a great game between some great running backs in the Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, and Todd Gurley, who was triangle considered an MVP candidate. Also the defenses will keep the game close and much tighter at the end of the game. The Falcons will need to run the ball effictively to come away with a victory as the Rams have struggled all season to stop the run. With an effective run game, the play-action game will also be just as effective. Also, the Falcons have more playoff experience which could work in their favor. All of these things are key for the Falcons in this game and if they can do these things, they should win a close one in L.A.
As for the Rams, they’ll need to run the ball hard against the Falcons with Todd Gurley and Jared Goff will need to play as well as he did during the regular season. Also, as he has done well all season, he must not turn the ball over. The Rams may not have the experience in the playoffs, but with a fired up team, anything is possible. The Rams defense knows they will need to stop the run to force Matt Ryan into throwing the ball more than 35 times. This game will ultimately come down to the team that has the better gameplan.
Jaguars 26, Bills 16; 1:00pm CBS
This game could be a defensive grudge match and but it may be a one-sided affair as well. The Bills have a very small chance of winning the game especially since LeSean McCoy may be out because of a sprained ankle he suffered last game. Also, the Jaguars have a defense that ranked first against the pass and first in total sacks. The only way the Bills could win is through stopping Leonard Fournette and forcing Blake Bortles into some turnovers.
As for the Jags, they are at home in front of their fans and they’ll rely on Leonard Fournette and their defense to win them this game. Blake Bortles will also have to do his part by not turning the ball over. Sacksonville and Fournette could blow to doors off Bills and if the defense can keep Tyrod Taylor in the pocket, they’ll win the game. Odds are, all of these things happen, which means the Jaguars will be advancing to the Divisional Round after Sunday’s game.
Saints 28, Panthers 20; 4:40pm FOX
This will be the third time that the Saints and Panthers play this season and the Panthers will be looking to defeat the Saints as they’ve already lost to them both times. The key for the Panthers will be to keep the Saints running backs in check and force Drew Brees to throw the ball a lot. Also, Cam Newton cannot turn the ball over or miss open receivers because the drives will stall and Brees and the offense are potent. It could be a defensive showdown which could be an advantage for the Panthers since they have the better defense.
The Saints will look to beat the Panthers yet again and have a very good chance of doing that since they are at home and Brees is usually good in the playoffs. Even though the run game has cooled off, they can still effectively use Ingram and Kamara in the slot since they are both dual threats. The Saints defense will need to get after Cam and keep him in the pocket to limit his mobility and to force him to become a pocket passer. Regardless of these things, this game should be close especially since both teams are division rivals and could be a low-scoring affair in the Superdome.