The 2017-18 NFL postseason resumes Saturday afternoon, with the Atlanta Falcons looking to continue its hot streak in the NFC showdown at Philadelphia (4:35 p.m. ET). The Saturday slate caps with the defending champion Patriots playing host to the underdog Tennessee Titans (8:15 p.m. ET).
On Sunday, the underdog AFC South champion Jaguars travel to Heinz Field to take on the No. 2-seeded Steelers (1:05 p.m. ET), who are seeking revenge for a loss to Jacksonville earlier this season. Minnesota hosts New Orleans Sunday evening (4:40 p.m. ET) to complete the weekend’s slate of playoff games.
Here’s how the All-Out Blitz staff writers Ben Heck and Jordan Foote believe this weekend’s Divisional round playoff games will play out:
No. 6 Atlanta Falcons at No. 1 Philadelphia Eagles (4:35 p.m. ET)
Ben’s pick: Falcons 17, Eagles 14
It’s not often you see a No. 1 seed listed as the Vegas underdog when facing the No. 6 seed in the Divisional round. That’s what happens when you lose your franchise quarterback to a torn ACL in December. While I have the Falcons pulling off the road win in Philly, I wouldn’t be completely surprised if the Eagles won this one and earned the trip to the Conference Championship next week. Philadelphia is 7-1 at home this season and still have a more than capable quarterback, with one playoff start under his belt already, and a top five defense. Slow Matt Ryan down, force a couple of turnover and control the clock, and you could see the Eagles surviving and hosting the NFC Championship.
Jordan’s pick: Falcons 28, Eagles 24
Nick Foles vs. Matt Ryan. The Eagles and the Falcons. Both of these teams have plenty of talent outside of the quarterback position and boast very intimidating rosters. There’s only one problem: Carson Wentz is not running out of the locker room and onto the field for the Eagles. Nick Foles is not a bad quarterback, but he’s no Matt Ryan. Atlanta played a very good game against a great Rams team last week and should carry that momentum into this contest. Expect another turnover or two to be the difference in the end and considering Matt Ryan is the better QB, Atlanta should emerge victorious in a close one.
No. 5 Tennessee Titans at No. 1 New England Patriots (Saturday, 8:15 PM ET)
Ben’s pick: Patriots 38, Titans 24
Everyone seems to be claiming this one will quickly turn into a blowout, and I won’t completely disagree. On paper, this is certainly a mismatch. But we also said that about last week’s Tennessee-Kansas City game, didn’t we? I expect to see a vintage Belichick-Brady January playoff game, with New England putting up 35+ points on an out-manned Titans squad. But wouldn’t it be nice to see Marcus Mariota make another couple of big plays as he did in his playoff debut against Kansas City last week?
Jordan’s pick: Patriots 34, Titans 20
Tom Brady’s TD:INT ratio in his past five contests is… 6:5. That’s not very good and certainly not what you’d expect from a player many call the greatest in the history of the sport. I anticipate a big game from Brady, who’s just leaps and bounds better than Marcus Mariota. Tennessee had a resurgent second half last week against Kansas City but in reality, it was Andy Reid’s conservative play calling that lost the Chiefs that game – it didn’t have too much to do with the Titans going out and winning it. New England is a better team than Tennessee. It’s that simple. This won’t be close.
No. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 2 Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET)
Ben’s pick: Steelers 28, Jaguars 10
Sacksonville already knows how to beat Pittsburgh following its 30-9 Week 5 beatdown of the Steelers. But let’s not forget that this is a much different Steelers squad than early October and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger won’t be picked off five times this time around. With much colder weather in Pittsburgh this time around, Jacksonville may have to rely on quarterback Blake Bortles a little more than the Week 5 match-up — he tossed for just 95 yards and an interception on 8-of-14 passing in the first meeting. Rookie runner Leonard Fournette ran for just 2.7 yards per carry in Buffalo last week as he tends to struggle a little more in cold-weather situations. Pittsburgh gets its revenge on Jacksonville this time around.
Jordan’s pick: Steelers 27, Jaguars 17
This is an intriguing game. The Jaguars picked off Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger a whopping five times back in week five (the last time these teams met). Big Ben has thrown just seven interceptions in his last 10 games. It’s safe to say that early-season disappointment was an aberration. Jacksonville has the defense to compete with Pittsburgh, but it’s going to be so difficult to shut down Big Ben, Le’Veon Bell, JuJu Smith-Schuster and the returning Antonio Brown for a second time in the same season. Blake Bortles is no Ben Roethlisberger, and I’m rolling with the Steelers in this one.
No. 4 New Orleans Saints at No. 2 Minnesota Vikings (Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET)
Ben’s pick: Saints 24, Vikings 14
The Vikings are four-point home favorites against the Saints this Sunday, and for good reason as explained by MyTopSportsBooks.com. they already beat New Orleans, 29-19, in Week 1; they have the NFL’s top-ranked defense with game-breakers at every level; and they went 7-1 at U.S. Bank Stadium. However, New Orleans’ running back duo of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara were practically non-factors (19 carries, 45 rushing yards, 1 TD combined) in last week’s win over Carolina. A heavy dosage of the Ingram/Kamara tandem against Minnesota, and this is the Saints’ game to lose.
Jordan’s pick: Saints 31, Vikings 24
The second-best offensive attack in the NFL travels to Minnesota to face the best defense in the league. It’s a lot easier to pick the better quarterback to win in the postseason, which is what I’m doing again here. Minnesota has enjoyed a great season with Case Keenum under center, but all good things must come to an end. Yes, I know Drew Brees isn’t a cold-weather QB. Yes, I know Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram were shut down last week. I also know that Brees and Sean Payton have been here before and know exactly what it takes to get to the next round. I like Minnesota, but the Saints have too many weapons and a decent defense in their own right. New Orleans will come marching in and grab the W on Sunday.
Photo: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images