Here’s how we see the 4 Divisional Round games playing out:
Indianapolis Colts @ Kansas City Chiefs
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Harris Ahmadzai: What will likely end up as the highest scoring game of the weekend, the matchup between Indy and KC boasts two prolific offenses that can each score in bunches. The Andrew Luck-led Colts are coming off an impressive win in Houston where they dominated their division rival in all three stages of the game. Kansas City boasts the NFL’s most explosive offense (35.3 PPG), though their defense remains suspect. Andy Reid has been exceptional over his career coming off a bye, but his postseason success in Kansas City has left something to be desired. The hottest team in the NFL rolls on with a great performance from Luck and the league’s most dominant offensive line.
Prediction: 35-30 Colts
Dylan Fraychineaud: Coming off a rather dominant display in Houston last weekend, the Colts enter Kansas City as 5.5 point underdogs. All of the pressure will be on the Chiefs — especially when considering their abysmal playoff record at home, with their last victory coming in 1993. I don’t believe Kansas City will break that streak this weekend. For starters, Indy is rolling. Andrew Luck is playing some of his best football, the Colts have a better defense, and a better running game. In the end, I believe Kareem Hunt’s absence will be the difference this weekend.
Prediction: 30-24 Colts
Jason Fray: This is a scary game for the Chiefs. The Colts have been red-hot over the last three months. Last week’s trouncing of the Houston Texans has Indianapolis as a dark horse to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. We must not forget how prolific Kansas City was this past year on the offensive side of the ball. Patrick Mahomes can — and will make throws that Deshaun Watson wasn’t able to connect on. However, Kareem Hunt’s dismissal has made this team rather one-dimensional on that side of the ball. Kansas City’s rather mediocre defense will struggle pressure Andrew Luck (especially behind a really good offensive line). While Kansas City has the big play ability, the Colts look to be more solid.
Prediction: 27-24 Colts
Dallas Cowboys @ Los Angeles Rams
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Harris Ahmadzai: Dallas continued their miracle run during the second half of the season with a slight-upset victory over the Seahawks. The Cowboys (and a strong contingent of their fan base) travel to Los Angeles to take on the Los Angeles Rams and wunderkind head coach Sean McVay. Jason Garrett’s team has leaned on a streaking defense and a ball control offense. Though they have the pieces on the defensive end to compete with the Rams, it’s unlikely Dallas’ offense can keep up on the scoreboard. A rested Todd Gurley and Jared Goff lead the Rams to the franchise’s first NFC Championship game since 2000.
Prediction: 24-17 Rams
Dylan Fraychineaud: This isn’t the matchup I was anticipating. Chicago double-doinked its way out of the playoffs, and Seattle mismanaged its offense in Dallas. With that being said, I believe Sean McVay and the Rams will advance to the NFC Championship. An extra week of rest coupled with the desire to avenge last year’s home loss to Atlanta will be enough of an edge for LA. The Rams will have to limit Zeke Elliott’s production, but if they do that I think they will win comfortably.
Prediction: 34-16 Rams
Jason Fray: Truthfully, this isn’t a great matchup for Los Angeles. Dallas will try to control the clock, manage the game with short throws, and run the ball down the Rams’ proverbial throat with Ezekiel Elliott. All the while, it’ll also try and make Jared Goff beat them with his arm (a much better alternative to Todd Gurley running wild). The Rams had plenty of time to get healthy ahead of this game. While Dallas is a dangerous team, I can’t see the Rams bowing out of the playoffs at home for a second-straight year.
Prediction: 30-21 Rams
Los Angeles Chargers @ New England Patriots
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Harris Ahmadzai: Coming off an emphatic victory over the Ravens in Baltimore, this road-warrior Chargers travels to Foxboro to take on the mighty Patriots. Philip Rivers will look to secure his first career victory over Tom Brady, and get one step closer to his first Super Bowl berth. The Chargers enter the game with the more balanced roster, but lose the matchup in two very important categories – quarterback and head coach. I can’t envision a scenario in which Anthony Lynn outcoaches Bill Belicheck – let alone in Gillette Stadium.
Prediction: 30-27 Patriots
Dylan Fraychineaud: Before the games last weekend, I predicted the AFC would come down to the Colts and Chargers. I know it’s a stretch to go against the Patriots. At Foxboro, the possibility of snow, a west coast team, Brady…
I’ll listen to any argument in favor of the Pats, I get it. However, the Chargers are simply a better team. Their lone road-loss came against the Rams. If you include the London game, the Chargers are 9-1 on the road this season. This weekend they will make it 10-1.
Prediction: 31-21 Chargers
Jason Fray: There are a lot of signs pointing towards the Chargers in this game. For one, LA has tons of momentum after trashing the Ravens in Baltimore last week. From a roster standpoint, there’s no question that the Chargers are deeper and far more talented across the board. Nearly every single position group tilts to LA. However…the game is being played in New England. The 10:05 a.m. PT start time for a team coming across the country won’t be easy. The Pats also have the advantage when it comes to the head coaching position and the quarterback spot. Call me crazy, but the Chargers probably won’t like playing in what’s expected to be a high of 29 degrees on Sunday afternoon. Until the Chargers can prove they can beat the big boys in the playoffs, I can’t go against Brady and Belichick.
Prediction: 28-23 Patriots
Philadelphia Eagles @ New Orleans Saints
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Harris Ahmadzai: The last time these two teams met, New Orleans beat the breaks off Philly in a 48-7 shellacking. The Eagles have gone 6-1 since that game, including a thrilling victory over the Bears in last week’s Wild Card game. Nick Foles has been tremendous for Philly, extending drives and making crunch time plays. The Saints were the best team in football for most of the season, though an underwhelming end to the season has soured some on New Orleans’ title chances. Betting against Foles feels wrong, but the Saints are a better football team and haven’t lost a meaningful home game since Week 1.
Prediction: 27-21 Saints
Dylan Fraychineaud: What is it about Nick Foles and the postseason? After eking out a victory in Chicago, the Eagles have appeared to recapture the magic that led them to the Super Bowl last year. Of the four games I am least certain about this one. I have a strange feeling that Philadelphia will pull of another upset…but I just can’t go against Drew Brees at home.
Prediction: 24-23 Saints
Jason Fray: Nick Foles certainly has some good ‘juju’ emanating from his orifices at this point. However, he is stepping into a lion’s den chock full of high-powered offense, beignets, and voodoo dolls. The Saints already thrashed Philadelphia at home earlier this season. However, this game figures to be far closer. New Orleans will have to not only slow down Philadelphia’s vaunted pass rush, but also run the football itself. The Eagles will not be intimidated by the raucous home crowd. As such, the team able to execute at a higher rate will come away with the victory.
Prediction: 23-20 Saints