Friday, January 18, 2019

Our NFL Championship Predictions

Photo credit: Jake Roth, USA Today Sports

The table has been set and the final four teams are ready to battle it out for the NFL’s highest prize. After our poor showing on Wild Card weekend, three out of four correct picks in the divisional round isn’t bad! With just three games left to play this season, it’s time for us to make our final predictions for conference and league champions.

Chiefs vs. Patriots
Despite going 11-5 and winning their division yet again, the New England Patriots were a completely different team away from home. An unblemished home record was counterbalanced by a 3-5 record on the road, with notable losses against the Titans, Lions and Jaguars. Tom Brady doesn’t have a good playoff record on the road (he’s 0-3) and the Chiefs didn’t have a great run defense this year, so the Patriots will likely lean on their young running game behind Sony Michel to pick up the slack.

The Pats may have won their one 2018 meeting against Kansas City in a shootout that was decided by a last-second field goal, but the Chiefs have grown leaps and bounds since that game, and the receiving corps is clicking with Patrick Mahomes. That being said, this won’t be a high-scoring affair. The Chiefs will survive a late push by the ageless wonder that is Tom Brady and get back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1970.

Saints vs. Rams
Photo credit: Sean Gardner, Getty Images
Another ageless wonder in Drew Brees goes up against a young upstart team in the Los Angeles Rams. It’s actually quite interesting how both of these games represent a changing of the guard in the NFL, but we don’t see the Rams emerging victorious in this one. The Saints have one of the best run defenses in the league, and if they can control the Rams running game then they make the team more predictable and one-dimensional. All of L.A.’s fancy audibles and adjustments might be hard to hear at the line of scrimmage in the Superdome, where Saints fans get louder than anywhere else in the league.

On the flip side, the Saints will be going against a Rams secondary that’s healthy and includes Aqib Talib. As long as they play good deep coverage, Drew Brees likely won’t be able to pick them apart like he did the last time these two teams met. That means more time waiting in the pocket for an open receiver and more time for Aaron Donald to get a sack.

The Big Game
If our predictions hold true, that leads us to a Saints vs. Chiefs championship where anything could happen. How that hypothetical game turns out would be completely dependent on Drew Brees. If he has time to find receivers, he’ll make the Chiefs look confused and disorganized. If he doesn’t and the Saints have to punt more than five times in the game, look for the Chiefs to take advantage. All that being said, it’s been a crazy year where anything can happen. We’ll pick the Saints to win the game in the last minute or so on a very long, very tense field goal.

Who do you think will win the next few games? How close are we to getting our picks right? Let us know in the comments below and enjoy the rest of the playoffs!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Our Picks for NFL Divisional Weekend

Photo credit: si.com
We made it through Wild Card Weekend and came out defeated, going 1-3 in our picks for the weekend’s winners. In our defense, a few of those games came down to the wire and could have gone the other way with a few lucky plays, but that’s football for you. We’re dusting ourselves off and getting ready for an even bigger weekend of divisional football, and we’ve got more predictions for you.

Colts vs. Chiefs
This one is probably even harder to pick than last week. The Colts are undoubtedly the hottest team in the playoffs, having won 10 of their past 11 games to qualify for - and advance to - the divisional round. How will that success and their talented, young offensive line pair up against a punishing 3-4 Kansas City defense that can keep Andrew Luck guessing with its coverage packages? Let’s not forget their gunslinging offense and Patrick Mahomes lighting up the scoreboard. It will be a close game for a few quarters, but the Chiefs will pull away late and win comfortably.

Cowboys vs. Rams
The Cowboys have followed a similar path to the Colts with eight wins in their last nine games to reach the divisional round. They eked out a tough victory against a Seattle team whose defense isn’t as lights out as it once was, but how will Dallas fare against a balanced Rams team that features Aaron Donald up front and a talented secondary? How this game turns out likely falls to sudden wunderkind Jared Goff, but we think the Rams will handle the Cowboys by a touchdown and some change.

Chargers vs. Patriots
Photo credit: bettingsports.com
Is this finally the year that Philip Rivers and the Chargers put it all together? A couple late drives by the Ravens made last week’s game look much closer than it was, as a suffocating defense kept Lamar Jackson in check. The Chargers won’t be able to settle for field goals against the Patriots, but they know that already. New England is only in the divisional round because of late-season falters by the Texans, so their first-round bye is a bit misleading. This could be the biggest toss-up of the weekend, as Tom Brady will be going against a capable quarterback with a capable offense. In a close one, we see the Chargers getting past the Patriots in the fourth quarter.

Eagles vs. Saints
We should’ve known better than to bet against the Eagles and Nick Foles. With some very, very late-game magic and a bit of luck from a goalpost, Philadelphia beat Chicago to make it to this matchup with New Orleans. The Saints, and Drew Brees in particular, look like a rejuvenated squad. They dominated through most of the season, and “just enough” from the Eagles won’t be enough to beat an offense with proven veterans. New Orleans will make it back to the NFC title game after last year’s last-second blunder against the Vikings.

We felt confident with our picks last week, but this time we really mean it. There’s no way these picks could come back to bite us, right? Who do you think will win the divisional round and move on to the conference championship weekend? Let us know in the comments below, and enjoy the game!

Friday, January 4, 2019

Our NFL Wild Card Predictions

Photo credit: TexansPR/Twitter
It’s finally time for professional playoff football! Analysts argue the Wild Card weekend is not as exciting as the divisional rounds that follow, but we’d beg to differ this year. Across the board, there are some exciting matchups featuring fresh faces in the playoff tournament. Without further adieu, here is our super-expert-can’t-be-argued-against predictions for this weekend’s matchups.

Colts vs. Texans
Photo credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images
One more time for these AFC South rivals to decide who should be crowned the division’s best. It’s hard to pick one here. On one hand you have a resurgent Colts offense behind a healthy Andrew Luck, and on the other hand you have a Texans team that rattled off nine straight wins after a lackluster start and came out about even toward the end of the season. We’ll give it to Houston in a toss-up.

Seahawks vs. Cowboys
Your guess is as good as ours in this one. The Cowboys didn’t play lights out against an admittedly weaker NFC East division this year, winning (or losing) by narrow margins each time. Jason Garrett has been known to be a conservative play caller, and the Seahawks have been here before. Plus, they beat the Cowboys early in the season. Seattle eeks by in a stressful contest.

Chargers vs. Ravens
Philip Rivers and the Chargers were dominant at some points and just good enough at others, but they beat good teams when it was important, and they’ve earned their first place standing in the two-team AFC West. Baltimore may have beaten Los Angeles this year, but they’re riding the rookie wave of Lamar Jackson and it can’t possibly succeed in the playoffs. The Chargers win this one.

Eagles vs. Bears
Does Nick Foles even know what he’s doing? Yet again, the Eagles have limped into the playoffs on the back of their backup quarterback after an injury to Carson Wentz. Three straight confidence-boosting wins will do you a lot in any sport, but not when you have to face a juggernaut of a team that looks nasty on defense and surprisingly potent on offense. In a head-turning game, it’ll be Trubisky and the Bears offense that put their stamp on this game rather than the loaded Chicago defense.

Photo credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If all of our predictions pan out, the Texans would move on to play New England, the Chargers would play Kansas City, the Bears would play the Rams, and the Seahawks would play New Orleans. Any of those matchups make for good T.V., and we’ll be back with another prediction next week. Have a good time watching the games, and let us know who you think will win in the comments below!