NFL Playoffs 2018: Schedule, Odds and Predictions for Final Divisional Games
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Ladies and gentlemen, we are officially halfway through the Divisional round of the NFL playoffs, which means there are just two games remaining until the AFC/NFC conference championship games are set.
On Saturday, the Philadelphia Eagles took care of business at home against a tough Atlanta Falcons team that remained within striking distance for the entirety of the game. Following the Eagles advancing to the NFC championship game, the New England Patriots played host to the Tennessee Titans.
And you know how that went, right?
The Titans started off strong early in the first quarter but fell apart down the stretch to give Tom Brady and his Patriots team an easy 35-14 victory in New England.
But Sunday’s slate of games—no disrespect to Saturday’s Divisional round—could be even more entertaining.
Sunday, January 14
AFC: Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:05 p.m. ET (CBS, CBS Sports Network)
NFC: New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings, 4:40 p.m. ET (Fox, Fox Sports Go)
Steelers host Jaguars, seek revenge
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In Week 5, Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions against the Jacksonville Jaguars, losing 30-9 at home.
But this time around, the Steelers will look to take care of business against the Jaguars and set up a date with the Patriots with a win on Sunday afternoon.
Forget about the drama happening with Le’Veon Bell’s future as a Steeler (he’s actually healthy to play in the playoffs this year!) beyond this season. With Bell, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Juju Smith-Schuster and the aforementioned Roethlisberger, it’s hard to imagine Pittsburgh will have a tough time putting points on the scoreboard.
But that’s what we all thought back in Week 5 when the Jaguars dominated the Steelers on both sides of the ball.
The key to victory for the Jaguars is a heavy dose of Leonard Fournette coming out of the backfield, but the Steelers defense will look to make a statement, proving Fournette’s 181-yard, two touchdown performance back in Week 5 was a fluke.
It’ll be a closely-fought game for the first half as the Jaguars defense tries to hang in the game, but Pittsburgh’s offense proves to be too much in this round as they advance to the AFC championship game.
Prediction: Steelers defeat Jaguars, 28-13.
Vikings look to double up on Saints
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Oh, look! Another game with a lot on the line and two teams that met earlier this season.
While it seems like an eternity ago since these teams faced off in the first game of the season, the Vikings took apart the Saints at home, 29-19, in a dominant performance that doesn’t do the final box score justice.
Not only did the Saints defense play one of its worst games of the season back in Week 1, but they didn’t establish what they wanted to do on offense yet.
Over the past few seasons, their offense has relied on Drew Brees‘ arm to get things going downfield. But nowadays, New Orleans is much more accepting of a run-first mentality that opens up the passing game.
And with running backs as good as Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, it’s hard to imagine the Vikings putting a stop to one of the most well-rounded offensive units in football.
Prediction: Saints defeat Vikings, 26-24.