This weekend is about to be interesting.
Last weekend's Wild-Card round was easily one of the best weekends of playoff football we have seen in a long time. The weekend was kicked off with a thrilling overtime game between the Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans. From there, we were blessed with a huge upset as the Tennessee Titans, propelled by Derrick Henry, knocked off the defending champion New England Patriots. On Sunday, more upsets were had as the Minnesota Vikings defeated the formidable New Orleans Saints in yet another overtime blockbuster matchup. The final game of the weekend wasn't as dramatic as the other three although the Seattle Seahawks showed everyone why they're so hard to beat when the games mean something.
Now, we are in the Divisional Round which means the stakes are even higher. Whoever wins will punch their ticket into their respective conference's championship game. From there, they will compete for a spot in the Super Bowl where the Lombardi trophy will be on the line. There are some phenomenal matchups this weekend and we're here to predict who's going to come away victorious.
Minnesota Vikings @ San Francisco 49ers
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The Vikings were one of the most surprising teams of the Wild-Card round as quarterback Kirk Cousins and company upset Drew Brees and the Saints. Most fans would tell you they had the Saints winning that game simply because the Saints offense is too much to handle. In the end, the Vikings defense was up to the task and did an incredible job stifling some of the Saints' biggest playmakers. Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers were one of this season's biggest surprises as they finished the year with a record of 13-3 and even won the number one seed in the NFC.
Once you get to the Divisional Round, stats are pretty well thrown out the window. What these matches come down to is talent and who can perform in the biggest moment. Both of these teams have unproven quarterbacks which makes the matchup that much more interesting. Cousins proved his worth by winning a playoff game last weekend although it remains to be seen whether or not he can continue that success. As for Jimmy Garoppolo, he will be making his playoff debut on Saturday and the pressure is on. Cousins has better weapons at wide receiver whereas Jimmy G mostly relies on his game management skills. On the defensive side of the ball, the 49ers have been nothing short of dominant this year and will surely prove to be the Vikings' toughest challenge yet. The Vikings have proven themselves to be formidable foes on defense but 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has proven himself to be quite crafty this season. With this in mind, it's clear the 49ers have an advantage.
Usually, 1 Vs. 6 seeds are easy to predict. This matchup, however, is going to be closer than people think. Regardless, the 49ers have the pieces necessary to make a Super Bowl run and their road to Miami begins this Saturday. Look for Jimmy G and company to pull this one out.
Winner: 49ers (27-17)
Tennessee Titans @ Baltimore Ravens
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Coming into the playoffs, the Baltimore Ravens boast the best record in the NFL as they sit at 14-2. The Ravens were dominant thanks to quarterback Lamar Jackson who is a prime candidate for league MVP. Not to mention, running back Mark Ingram was the perfect complementary piece to Jackson's dual-threat offense. Overall, the Ravens are a team that can decimate you on both sides of the ball, which puts them in the perfect position to make a deep playoff run. As for the Tennessee Titans, they are a gritty team that squeaked into the playoffs and are on an emotional high after upsetting the Patriots.
When it comes down to it, the Ravens are simply the better team and it's not particularly close. From top to bottom, the Ravens have the advantage. You can make the argument that Derrick Henry is better than Ingram, however, after his usage from last weekend, it wouldn't be surprising to see a tired, broken down Henry on the field. The Ravens will be anticipating the run game and are more than equipped to deal with it. As for Titans QB Ryan Tannehill, he just isn't in the same ballpark as Jackson. He put up pedestrian numbers against the Patriots and the Ravens will prove to be an even tougher test. The Titans run has been fun to watch but it will come to an end on Saturday.
Jackson and his teammates will put on a clinic and run away with it early. Expect a double-digit win for the league's regular-season champion.
Winner: Ravens (31-14)
Houston Texans @ Kansas City Chiefs
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Perhaps the best game of the weekend will be between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans. Earlier this season, Deshaun Watson and the Texans toppled the Chiefs by a score of 31-24. This game was at the height of the Chiefs' defensive woes all while QB Patrick Mahomes was dealing with injury woes. Now, the tables have turned as the Chiefs are coming into the playoffs with the number two seed in the AFC and a six-game winning streak.
This matchup is going to come down to one thing: the quarterbacks. Mahomes and Watson are two of the best quarterbacks in the league and have the skill necessary to win a Super Bowl. Mahomes is known as more of a gunslinger while Watson is known for his ability to march offenses down the field and scramble out of the pocket when necessary. Both defenses are going to have a hard time stopping these men and it's going to make for some interesting television. Both the Texans and Chiefs boast questionable defenses although the Chiefs have vastly improved since these teams last played each other. Watson has the ability to go tit for tat with Mahomes but the latter's ability to throw 50-yard touchdowns at will could prove to the difference. The Texans barely squeaked by the Bills, whose offense is anemic, to say the least. All things considered, it appears as though the Chiefs have the advantage.
Mahomes is going to be motivated after what happened in last year's playoffs. Look for him to have a dominant game with three touchdown passes. The Chiefs will win this one narrowly, although as they say, a win is a win.
Winner: Chiefs (24-21)
Seattle Seahawks @ Green Bay Packers
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Of all the games going on this weekend, this could potentially be the hardest to predict. At the end of the day, it's all going to depend on what version of Aaron Rodgers we see. Rodgers is perhaps the most talented quarterback to ever grace the field, however, he has seen a bit of a decline over the last two seasons and it has started to be quite noticeable. Luckily for the Packers, Rodgers has a solid defense and competent running back for what seems like the first time in his career. The Seahawks have their own issues as the defense and offense are plagued with injuries. Add a weak offensive line to the mix and you've got a nightmare scenario for Russell Wilson.
Wilson and rookie wide receiver DK Metcalf combined for 160 yards and a touchdown last week so look for them to be a huge factor on Sunday. Meanwhile, Rodgers and his Packers receivers will be motivated to silence those who think the Packers are pretenders, despite their impressive 13-3 record. For Rodgers, this could very well be a legacy game. He hasn't been to the Super Bowl since 2011 and many pundits are starting to question his ability to win big games. This is the perfect opportunity for Rodgers to silence the critics and put on a vintage performance. Overall, this game could very well go the distance and result in a last-minute score. It might be a bit of a coin flip but considering the Seahawks' injuries, the Packers seem to have the advantage.
Let's face it, we all want to see a Packers vs. 49ers NFC Championship game. All things considered, it looks like we're on a collision course for that exact matchup.
Winner: Packers (21-17)
Who do you think is going to win this weekend? Let us know in the comments below.