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NFL Wild Card weekend paved the way to the last eight teams standing in the playoffs.
While the last weekend of games had some close calls, I am optimistic that the NFL Divisional Round will provide a lot more excitement. Without further ado, let’s make some picks!
Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs (KC 5.5 PT favorite)
You have to feel good for Andrew Luck. Coming out of college, Luck appeared to be headed towards NFL stardom right out of the gate. Unfortunately, some obscure injuries took him away from the game for a long time, and the football world questioned if Luck would ever be the same again. Well, he has proven everyone wrong. Throwing for almost 4,600 yards, 39 touchdowns to 15 interceptions, Luck has been a complete revelation for a team that had minimal expectations going into 2018. Another surprise is former Detroit Lion tight end, Eric Ebron. As a Lions fan myself, watching Ebron drop pass after pass became very frustrating, but I am happy to see his career blossom with the Colts.
The Colts will be running into one of the best offensive teams in the entire NFL. Led by Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce, Kansas City is a threat to score every single time on the field. After a torrid start, the Chiefs hit a little bit of a wall, losing the last 2 of their 3 games to close out the season. The Chiefs are also notorious for falling well short of expectations in the post-season. I think the trend continues, and Andrew Luck continues his amazing climb.
Colts 31, Chiefs 28
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams (LA 7 PT favorite)
The Cowboys could also be considered a decent surprise, making it as far as they have. America’s Team had pretty darn good fortune with a lousy NFC East but deserves credit for handling their business. Dak Prescott has had a good season, and Zeke Elliott continues to produce yardage every time he touches the football. Dallas also fields a very stout defense, sitting 6th overall in total points allowed. Will they have enough to overcome the Rams?
I do not think so. Todd McVey was the surprise coach last year, taking the Rams well beyond expectations, but losing early in the playoffs. The second-year hangover will not happen again, as I expect Los Angeles to be extra motivated for this matchup. Too many weapons on offense with Goff, Gurley, Woods, and Cooks. LA strikes early and never looks back.
Rams 37, Dallas 17
Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots (New England 4 PT favorite)
Somehow, someway, the New England Patriots scratched out an 11-5 season, earning the 2-seed in the AFC playoffs. With Tom Brady suddenly aging 20 years, Rob Gronkowski looking like this will be his last season, and potential reclamation project Josh Gordon having to step away from football, New England is showing all the signs of the end to the dynasty. The team lacks any significant offensive power outside of their few stars, forcing the defense to do a lot of the heavy lifting. However, no matter how many obstacles are in the way, can we really count Tom Brady out?
Across the field, a hungry Philip Rivers will be staring right back, ready for anything. The Chargers are notorious for not being able to advance far in the playoffs, but this year feels different. Rivers is an absolute maniac on the field, doing everything in his power to get the team to win. Even though he has zero velocity on his throws, Rivers continues to make plays by getting the ball where it needs to go. Is this the year the Chargers slay the giant and move on to the AFC Championship game? The answer is a very nervous yes.
Chargers 24, Patriots 23
Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints (New Orleans 8 PT favorite)
The Eagles backed into the playoffs, needing Minnesota to lose a home game to get a Wild Card bid. With the unlikely happening, the Eagles went into suddenly dangerous Chicago with nothing to lose. Backup Nick Foles was called into duty a few weeks prior after Carson Wentz went down with another serious injury. As we should have expected, Foles continued his magical Super Bowl season with a win in Chicago. Philadelphia continues to get the job done with limited offensive talent and an average defense.
I would have to think the run stops now. In the playoffs, New Orleans is a machine at home. Drew Brees found the fountain of youth and had another great season. With Alvin Kamara following up his rookie season with another strong output, Brees found a strong connection with receiver Michael Thomas. The odds are too strong against Philadelphia this one, and the magic comes to a halt.
Saints 40, Philadelphia 28
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