It’s January baby, and you know what that means! That’s right it’s Playoff season. Through 17 weeks of hard fought football, 12 teams have reaped what they have sown during the off-season, and are ready to duke it out in the final weeks of the NFL. This week we have 4 exciting matchups to cover, so gather around with your Bud Light and get ready to shout dilly dilly!
By The TFL Staff
This week the TFL Crew tackles the North, specifically the AFC North. The questions for this division could totally be on a suspenseful prime-time television show. Can the Steelers re-sign Le’Veon Bell? Can the Ravens get past injury problems? Is this finally the Browns year to win more than 5 games? Will the Bengals ever fire Marvin Lewis? Find out now!
The second round of the NFL Playoffs has begun. Last week, we saw Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans comeback against the Kansas City Chiefs in a tough 22-21 victory. That was followed by a hard-fought win for the Atlanta Falcons, who visited Los Angeles to beat the Rams 26-13. The next day, the world saw Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars in postseason action, and it was a very slow 10-3 win against the Buffalo Bills. The afternoon spiced more than made up for it between an awesome matchup featuring the New Orlean Saints, who bested the Carolina Panthers in a 31-26 rivalry game. With that all that begin said, who will these victors fare against now?
Atlanta Falcons (10-6) @ Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) – 4:35 PM ET at Lincoln Financial Field
Despite their first seed standing, the Eagles have been slated to lose this matchup from many sports news outlets. The main reason, and perhaps rightly so, is due to the disappearance of Carson Wentz from the field. The potential MVP candidate could have gone up and faced another person loved by Philly, Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Matty Ryan. So with the less-than-stellar Nick Foles at the helm, who wins this matchup?
Massimo – Without Carson, The Eagles have undoubtedly regressed in playmaking ability. The defense is still stellar, but without MLB Jordan Hicks, offensive coordinators have been abusing slant passes on a weak LB core. The Eagles must bank on Jay Ajayi having a breakaway game, and for the ferocious front seven to put massive pressure on Matt Ryan. The Eagles must not sleep on the run game, something they’ve been rather slow against recently. Devontae Freeman and Tevin Coleman are no joke, and will bring a dynamic 1-2 punch when Julio Jones isn’t burning the secondary. Still, I think the Eagles defense will survive for at least one more week, and the Falcons will head back home.
Eagles 20 Falcons 19
Mike – This comes down to the line of scrimmage. That is why I like the Eagles in this game. It’s not like the Falcons dominated the Rams last week. The Eagles have a dominate defense, especially when they are playing at the Linc. Atlanta struggled in the red zone this year, and I don’t expect that to change. Nick Foles will decide this game. If he plays controlled football, the Eagles win. If he continues to be uncomfortable they will lose. Foles finally has a considerable amount of time under his belt with the first team. I like this matchup too much for Philly to go against them. Look for the interior line of Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan to show why they make all the money they do. I like the underdog Eagles to show why they were the number one seed without Wentz.
Eagles 30 Falcons 17
Tennesseee Titans (9-7) @ New England Patriots (13-3) – 8:15PM ET at Gillette Stadium
As mentioned earlier, the Titans overcame a tough adversary in the Kansas Ciy Chiefs over at Arrowhead, but now their challenge is even greater in Foxborough against Bill Belichick’s Patrtiots. If the Titans win this game, you best believe a movie will be made, with Kids Meals coming with little Marcus Mariota action figures. However, against MVP candidate Tom Brady, who at this point has a .735 winning percentage in the playoffs, it will be no easy task.
Massimo – I don’t take back my opinion on the Titans after last week’s matchup. A Travis Kelce-less Chiefs with Andy Reid playoff coaching proved ineffective once again, and now the Titans must face a real team. That’s no disrespect to the Titans, who played hard all the way up to this point, but there’s a difference between good teams and great teams, and tonight’s game will prove it. A fully rested Rob Gronkowski should be enough to rip the Titans D, and Tom Brady will find a few spectacular throws to Brandin Cooks sooner or later. I do boldly predict however, that Derrick Henry will be the Titans only scorer tonight.
Patriots 31 Titans 17
Mike – Tom. Brady. That’s really it. Not too much to say here. The Titans have a lot of fight in them, and I think this will be a somewhat competitive game. Marcus Mariota can make a play or two against a shaky Pats defense, but it won’t be enough to dethrone Brady. That offense is too good for an average Titans defense. Bill Belichick isn’t Andy Reid, and I like to Patriots to take control of this game, but they won’t win by 30.
Patriots 33 Titans 19
Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3) – 1:05PM ET at Heinz Field
The Steelers hopefully have prepped up a better game plan for this match. Last time they fought the Jags, Big Ben threw 5 picks in an ugly 30-9 loss. But hey, that could motivate the Steelers to win this game that much more. The Jaguars did not come off an impressive victory, but it was their first playoff games in years and no fans can complain about a playoff win. Can the Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers hold off Jalen Ramsay and the Jaguars D this weekend?
I believe the Steelers can overcome their careless mistakes from their first game. First off, Big Ben cannot start the game bad. By bad, I mean turnovers. Three and outs are bad too, but at least Roethlisberger will avoid being a mockery in his own home turf. Blake Bortles is already kind of a joke enough so don’t make it two Ben. Secondly, LeVeon Bell is better than Leonard Fournette, and that’ll be shown. The Steelers definitely won’t pass 55 times, giving Bell an opportunity to earn his contract he’s been on about. If Ramsey and the rest force just one turnover early, it can be a real mess for the Steelers.
Jaguars 23 Steelers 27
Mike – Sunday is the day for defense. The Jaguars defense is serious, and the Steelers aren’t giving me a bunch of confidence right now. The Jags will be able to control the Steelers offense. But the most important player of this game is Leonard Fournette. A Pittsburgh defense without Ryan Shazier lacks lateral speed and run stopping ability. Fournette is made for cold playoff football. If he can deliver body blow after body blow, he can keep his defense fresh and ready to attack. And that formula will beat Pittsburgh and move them to the AFC Championship.
Jaguars 24 Steelers 16
New Orlean Saints (11-5) @ Minnesota Vikings (13-3) – 4:40PM ET at U.S. Bank Stadium
This game will have a rematch of two sides of the ball that have played tremendously well, the Saints offense and the Vikings defense. The other sides are okay too, but people wanna see The famous Who Dat Attack vs. the Purple People Eaters Pt. 2. Could it be a high scoring affair with potential overtime factors? Or could it be a stifling game with low scoring and no yardage gains? The world may never know. Actually, it will, around 3 and a half hours after kick off.
Massimo – I like the Vikings in this one solely on defense. No matter the offense, Minnesota seems to have an answer to every scheme, and is the only team I watch and visually see a sound defense in every aspect. And since Case Keenum can actually keep the offense on the field without Dalvin Cook, it only makes the Defense’s job that much easier. Drew Brees is the best QB in my opinion, but that’s not enough for the Saints to win it. He’s still human ( I think) and he will throw a pick or two in crucial moments. Ingram and Kamara, who have been enjoying a healthy relationship, will go against their greatest challenge this week.
Saints 20 Vikings 26
Mike – Let’s continue with the defensive theme. The Vikings have the best defense in football, and I expect that to show against the Saints. New Orleans is a bit banged up, Andrus Peat is out, and Kenny Vaccaro is nicked up. Minnesota is healthy, and they want to play in the Super Bowl in their city. I expect them to be fired up and ready to go. Harrison Smith provides veteran stability for the back end, something the Panthers lacked letting Drew Brees take advantage of them. The Saints will have some trouble moving the ball, and if that happens I don’t trust their defense to completely shut down the Vikings offense which is sneaky good. It will be a four quarter slug fest, but the home team should prevail.
Vikings 26 Saints 21
By: TFL Staff
We’re just one more preseason week away from some real pigskin, and what better division to talk about then the one with the most classic rivalry. Don’t forget about the abundance of Thanksgiving football and emergence of Sam Bradford (just kidding). It’s the NFC North in this weeks analysis.
By Massimo Marchiano
In 2014 The Philadelphia Eagles had two players who shared both success and chemistry one season before they were split apart. Now, the players will reunite once again, but this time… with a different mix of emotions. Lesean McCoy’s comments made towards his long-lost teammate explains it all, and why McCoy is wrong.
By the TFL Staff
This week the crew tackles the division that lost two straight Super Bowls but still looks to be the strongest in the NFC Conference. Despite the lack of Super Bowls this division has failed to get in recent years, this is a division that always brings intense football. Forget about an ominous 28-3 lead, forget about a silly robbery at a Super Market, this is 2017 baby, and these teams are packing heat for some serious competition!
By The TFL Staff
What was once a division made fun of numerous times for lack of skill, now has the opportunity to break away as a top-dog competition between four teams who are trying to win the South! Spoiler alert, it’s not gonna be th