McGon’s Picks: NFL Divisional Playoffs

Wild-Card weekend lived up to the hype of being wild…

…as all four underdogs covered, and one got the win.

While there was not a great deal of excitement for most of these matchups besides Panthers-Saints, they all ended up being decent games. The Chiefs were absolutely rolling over the Titans, before the exact opposite happened in the second half. As great as the Rams have been all year, they did not look ready for the big stage as the experienced Falcons dominated. Jags-Bills was kind of boring, but the whole prospect of it being a Bills-Jags playoff made it interesting. And the final game was the best overall, as the Panthers nearly stole a victory down the stretch. While I enjoyed the games a lot, my picks did not do great, and the huge spreads did not help. I went 2-2 straight up, and 1-3 against the spread. Here’s a look back at the picks I made (winning team in red, spread winner in red):

Titans at Chiefs (-8.5)

My Pick: Chiefs 27, Titans 14

  • Titans 22, Chiefs 21- In the first half, the Chiefs were dominating even more than I predicted. They were clearly the superior team, and the Titans looked like they had no business being in the playoffs to start. But then halftime came, and I think you can argue this was a more impressive comeback than in last year’s Super Bowl. This deficit was 7 points less, but the Titans are not nearly as good of a team as the Patriots, and this was on the road versus on a neutral site. The teams we saw in the first half were nowhere to be found, and the Titans pulled off an incredible victory to earn a trip to Foxborough.

Falcons (+6) at Rams

My Pick: Rams 27, Falcons 24

  • Falcons 26, Rams 13- Well, looks like that experience factor played a much bigger role than I could have predicted. The entire night, you could just feel it was not the Rams night. They could not make any big plays, committed several turnovers, the crowd was not into it at all, and the Falcons were doing almost everything right. I think we can all still agree the Rams are a better team on paper. But the Falcons came in and took care of business when it mattered most, and that’s all that matters now as the Falcons will look to earn another trip to the NFC Championship.

Bills at Jaguars (-8.5)

My Pick: Jaguars 30, Bills 13

  • Jaguars 10, Bills 3- I knew the Bills would have trouble scoring, but I thought they could come away with more than a field goal. And I knew the Jaguars offense could be limited, but didn’t think it would be this bad. The Jags will have a tough time scoring on Sunday in Pittsburgh, but the same can be said about the Steelers, going up against the best defense in the NFL right now.

Panthers at Saints (-6.5)

My Pick: Saints 24, Panthers 17

  • Saints 31, Panthers 26- The Panthers did not play badly last week, but if you watched this whole game, it was clear that the Saints were the better team, and will pose a big threat to the Vikings on Sunday. However, props to the Panthers for almost stealing this one. After the Christian McCaffrey long TD, and the very questionable decision for the Saints to go for it on 4th down, the Panthers had a chance to steal this one. However, the Saints defense prevailed to move on.

2017 Playoffs Straight-Up: 2-2, 2017 Playoffs Vs. Spread: 1-3

The last weekend with a full slate of football is here.

Image result for nfl excited gif

Falcons (-2.5) at Eagles

Falcons 23, Eagles 13

  • The Eagles are not dead yet, but I don’t think their stay in the playoffs will last very long. The Falcons were not able to completely light up the scoreboard last week, but they completely dominated one of the best teams in the NFL this season. We all know how good the Falcons can be when they are hot, and I think that could be the case right now. Once again, I don’t think they will blow the Eagles out, as they are at home and it will be a decently cold day in Philly. But besides against the Giants (when the Eagles’ defense gave up 29 points), Nick Foles and this offense have done nothing, scoring 13 against the Raiders (not counting the 6 points on the game’s final play) and getting shutout by the Cowboys (albeit Foles did not play the whole game). The Falcons are playing good football at the right time, and the Eagles are not set to succeed without Carson Wentz. The Falcons will win, cover, and move within a win of another Super Bowl trip.

  • 2016 Falcons-Eagles matchup, the last time these teams met.

  • These teams last met in the playoffs in the 2004 NFC Championship, and the Eagles moved on to the Super Bowl.

Titans (+13.5) at Patriots

Patriots 31, Titans 20

  • This game has a very similar feel to the Patriots second round matchup last season against the Texans. Saturday night game, and Patriots are a massive favorite at home against a team many felt was not good enough to make the playoffs. The Patriots struggled in that game, but were able to pull away late to get the win and cover. I think this game goes very similar, except the Titans are a little better and the Patriots have dealt with plenty of distractions the last week, so the Titans will cover. The Titans will come out fired up after their incredible second half comeback last week, and it will be a close one at the half. However, the Patriots will pull away in the second half to win, but the Titans will do enough to cover in this one.

  • 2015 Titans-Patriots matchup, the last time these teams met.

  • These teams last met in the playoffs in 2003, with the Patriots winning a close one en route to a Super Bowl XXXVIII win over the Panthers.

Jaguars (+7) at Steelers

Steelers 21, Jaguars 17

  • The big topic everyone has been talking about this week is how the Steelers will fare in this one after the Jaguars came into Pittsburgh and dominated back in Week 5. While the Steelers offense has obviously gotten better since then, the same can be said for the Jaguars defense. However, Antonio Brown may not be 100% and to go along with that, he has been dealing with an illness. He should be able to go, but I don’t think he will be the AB we have seen this season. That being said, the Steelers still have so many weapons that I don’t think they will lose this game. The Jags defense will play great, but their offense will struggle again, and the Steelers will win a low scoring game. The Jaguars will cover this big spread, but the Steelers will move on to the AFC Championship.

  • These teams met in Week 5, and the Jaguars dominated the Steelers to earn a 30-9 win on the road.

  • These teams last met in the playoffs in 2007, and the Jaguars edged out a close victory in Pittsburgh.

Saints (+5) at Vikings

Vikings 24, Saints 21

  • Once again, I think the best game of the weekend will be saved for the last one. These teams met back in Week 1, but much has changed for both of them since. The Vikings have a new QB, and may be the most well-rounded team on both sides of the ball in the league. The Saints defense has greatly improved, and they have elevated from an average team to a very good team. With the playoff experience Drew Brees and Sean Payton have compared to Case Keenum and Mike Zimmer (as a head coach), the fact that the Saints are getting 5 points says a lot about how Vegas feels about the Vikings. I think this is going to be a close one, and the Saints will cover. However, I have the Vikings winning it on a late field goal. In recent Vikings playoff games, field goals have been their nightmare. They lost the 2009 NFC Championship to these Saints in OT on a field goal, and Blair Walsh shanked a chip shot which would have beaten the Seahawks two years ago. The field goal Gods will work in their favor this time, as Kai Forbath will send the Vikings to the NFC Championship, one win from hosting the Super Bowl at home.

  • These teams last met in Week 1, with the Vikings winning 29-19 at home.

  • These teams last met in the playoffs in the 2009 NFC Championship, with the Saints winning an all time classic in OT, which sent them to Super Bowl XLIV, which they won over the Colts.

Hopefully this weekend will be even better than last. Be back next week for championship Sunday. Can the Vikings erase bad playoff memories of the past?

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