2019 NFL Divisional Round Predictions

2019 NFL Divisional Round Predictions

Last week’s wild card picks were a breeze! Everyone knew that the struggling Eagles would best the vaunted #1 Bears defense. That Indianapolis’ spotty D would look like the second coming of, well, the 2018 Bears. That Baltimore would have 3 points and 3 first downs well into the second half. God, I wish I were dead!

On to our 2019 NFL divisional round predictions:

Saints vs. Eagles Predictions

Waleed Ismail: The Philadelphia Eagles were able to keep their wild card match against the Chicago Bears close, but they won’t have that luxury against the New Orleans Saints. The Eagles Wide 9 defense leaves them exposed to a strong running game and their secondary is straight trash.  Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara are going to feast on this defense.  Saints 24, Eagles 13

Evan Hoovler: Last week I really studied up, paired up each team’s strengths and weaknesses to consider matchups, and I whiffed on all but one prediction. So, this week I’m going to do things differently: I will select one fact about each team in the matchup that sways whom I predict to win the Saints-Eagles matchup. Let the cherry-picking begin! Saints fact: In week 11, the Saints dismantled the Eagles 48-7. Eagles Fact: The Eagles have the third-worst passing defense in the league, and let Trubisky clear 300 passing yards on Sunday. Saints 38, Eagles 17

Mike Maxwell: Sports prognosticators and politicians are similar as we hope you don’t hold us to our record. Last week I was a underwhelming 1-3. If you still have your house, spouse and a tad of respect for the staff allowing me to be an ‘expert’ then let’s carry on. Listen, if somehow the Eagles win this game over the Saints, it’ll be more disappointing than the Minnesota Miracle last year. The Eagles are in their second straight year of defying expectations with a backup QB, injured RB and over-served fan base. Pederson has this team playing with the greatest level of blind confidence I’ve seen. I’m guessing they all just shoot some morphine before running out of the tunnel so they don’t have any feelings, doubt or control of their bowels until halftime. Drew Brees and co are poised to stomp the Eagles. We constantly hear the Superdome is the hardest place to play football in the NFL, largely because of the rampant use of improper grammar. If this offense doesn’t put up over 24 points in the first half, they’re in trouble. Eagles 30, Saints 28

Jeff Krisko: I don’t know why I was stupid enough to bet against BDN last week, but I am a slow learner. There is not a world where the Eagles will outbattle the Saints. It’ll be strength on strength in the trenches, so that’ll cancel out. It feels like every other matchup tilts towards the Saints, if it isn’t an outright blowout. Drew Brees & Alvin Kamara vs. Nick Foles & Darren Sproles? Please. The Saints have the better secondary, and Sean Payton has been making opposing defenses look silly since Doug Pederson was the Special Teams Quality Control Analyst for North Southwestern Topeka State. That was a joke, but Pederson was literally a high school coach when Sean Payton started with the Saints. Gimme the Saints, ending the reign of BDN Foles. Saints 38, Eagles 27

Will Button: This game will come down to defense. The Eagles could only put up 16 points against the Bears and arguably won due to the magic fingertips of Treyvon Hester. Philadelphia is 4-4 in away games this year, with the Saints at 6-2 at home. Drew Brees is simply throwing the ball better than Foles. They’ll be rested and ready to go against the Eagles defense that is definitely exploitable. Kamara has shown his versatility in the New Orleans offensive playbook, and I can definitely see him breaking 50-60 yards easily on both catching and rushing. Brees simply has far too many offensive weapons. Foles does have some magic left in him, I’m sure, but they simply won’t be able to keep pace. The offensive line for New Orleans will keep Brees safe all night in the pocket, which means more time to think and more time for the defense to be chasing the Saints wide array of receivers. New Orleans will keep pace and most likely pull away once their defense can capitalize on a turnover or two. Saints 38, Eagles 29

 

Rams vs. Cowboys Prediction

Waleed Ismail: The Los Angeles Rams have built themselves an all-star team. However, despite how talented the Rams defense is, it hasn’t been as good a defense this season as it should be. They are susceptible to a strong running attack, and there isn’t much stronger than two-time NFL rushing title winner Ezekiel Elliott. In the Wild Card Weekend, the Cowboys showed that they won’t be pushovers. However, I don’t know if they will be able to keep up with the high-powered offense of the Los Angeles Rams.  Rams 27, Cowboys 21

Evan Hoovler: Los Angeles Rams fact: When the Rams’ mother dipped them into the river Styx, she grasped them firmly by the run defense. They rank 23rd among all 32 NFL teams. Dallas Cowboys fact: The Cowboys rank 7th in terms of time of possession, holding the ball for a robust 34:50 in their playoff game against Seattle. The Rams are going to find it hard to dictate the game with Ezekiel Elliott extending long playoff drives, and with Jared Goff-security blanket Cooper Kupp injured. Cowboys 16, Rams 13

Mike Maxwell: Well, well, well. What do we have here? A matchup that answers the age-old question, ‘Can you buy happiness?’ The Cowboys eked out a win because the Seahawks kicker was injured. I may want to flip on the Cowboys and see them play the Chiefs in the Super Bowl so we can have a story of coaches who crap the bed finally getting to the dance. Can Zeke run for 150+ 2 TD’s? On this Rams team, yes! The Rams are a classic major city conglomeration of free agency signings that were used to sell tickets to movie stars and agents. This should be a no brainer. It should be Rams smacking down the Cowboys all day. I still see the wet paint on this McVay masterpiece though. Cowboys 24, Rams 20

Jeff Krisko: We briefly thought the Los Angeles Rams sucked after they almost lost to the Bears, and then they actually lost to the Eagles. We tried to turn a blip into a trend, and how stupid were we for that? The Rams spent the last two weeks of the season getting right, scoring 79 points combined against the Cardinals and the Niners in their tune-up games in week sixteen and seventeen. The Dallas defense has been great lately, too, slowing down the Saints and Eagles in back-to-back games, and taking down the Seahawks last weekend. Ultimately, leaving Jerry World will be enough to slow down the Cowboys, and Todd Gurley will score seven touchdowns against them (conservative estimate). Please don’t do the math when I say: Rams 34Cowboys 17

Will Button: 

Dak and company gave us a great game in Seattle, walking away with a narrow victory and showing the world they can do extremely well if the opposing team’s kicker hurts himself because he’s old and falling apart. The Cowboys looked good but not great. This matchup is coming down to the run game. Both teams will participate in both a potato sack race and a three-legged race prior to the game. The winner of those will give us a clearer picture. Elliott versus Gurley is going to make the game fun regardless of who has possession. Both seem unstoppable. This matchup will be close. Jared Goff kind of sucks sometimes, so it will come down to which Goff we see on the field. Dak has thrown well enough but also has his moments like Goff. I’m giving this one to the Rams. They’re rested, playing at home (where they’ve only lost a single game this season), and playing against a Cowboys defense that narrowly escaped a loss last week. Rams 31, Cowboys 20

 

Chiefs vs. Colts Prediction

Waleed Ismail:  The one game I picked to advance, so I am doubling down. Since arriving in Kansas City, Andy Reid is 1-4 in the playoffs.  Andrew Luck has a playoff record of 4-2. This year, Andrew Luck has something he never had in those previous playoff appearances. A supporting cast. The Colts defense is the best defense left in the playoffs. The Colts offensive line has made it so Andrew Luck is one of the least-sacked quarterbacks in the league. This match will be the game of the week.  Colts 27, Chiefs 26

Evan Hoovler: Kansas City Chiefs fact: People keep talking about Arrowhead like it has some mystical noise advantage where all the fans hum the same note and the resonance frequency blows the opposing quarterback’s head off, yet Reid’s crew has lost six straight playoff games at home. Indianapolis Colts fact: In the past 11 games, Luck’s squad has gone 10-1, the lone loss being a 6-0 drubbing against a Jacksonville squad that suddenly found their 2017 defense. The Chiefs don’t have that high-ceiling defensive potential, their defense is middling on a good day: Their defense was one of ten to allow over 400 points in the regular season, none of those other nine teams made the playoffs and six took last place in their division. Colts 31, Chiefs 23

Mike Maxwell: The early game on Saturday will feature resurrected Colts versus this season’s AFC pace car, the Chiefs.This should’ve been the night game with the potential offense showing up. The Colts have finally decided to get a O line that doesn’t double as saloon doors. It’s amazing what can happen when a former number one pick doesn’t have to audible for 50,000 people to pray for his safety. Sure, Kansas City hasn’t won a home playoff game since they rolled with Joe Montana. I’m sure someone here will mention a defensive fact but this game will be like watching the PAC 12. I will bet my Montana Sketchers that Mahomes has another big game (3 TD, 300 yds). Last weekend, both respectable defenses lost (Baltimore, Chicago). So, now that defense is dead. Chiefs 37, Colts 31

Jeff Krisko: Things went great last week for my dream of the Colts going to the Super Bowl. They knocked off the Texans 21-7, and the game didn’t even feel all that close. If the Colts are going to make it to New Orleans this year, they’ll have to face a much tougher challenge this round, as they get the first seed Kansas City Chiefs. While Patrick Mahomes funslinged himself to a 5,000 yard, 50 touchdown season, their schedule was sneaky bad. The Chiefs played six games this season against playoff teams, and they went 2-4 against these teams (and it took overtime for them to knock off the Ravens). As we saw last weekend, the Colts attack consists of T.Y. Hilton, Marlon Mack, and Eric Ebron, in large amounts. That’ll be tough for KC, who are among the worst defenses in stopping both running backs and tight ends this season. Call it ridiculous hope overwhelming my better judgment but the Colts defense will slow down the Chiefs offense enough to make it a game, and a game that the Colts can win. This definitely isn’t me theory crafting an outcome I want into existence. Colts 34, Chiefs 31

Will Button: The knee slapper in me wants to make loads of ‘luck’ jokes about the Colts. Golly, wouldn’t that be a hoot? The Texans couldn’t seem to find an offensive rhythm against the Colts, and that fine young man Marlon Mack… I mean golly, he had 148 rush yards, which is the bee’s knees. But if Indianapolis wants to be top banana in the AFC, they’ll have to give the Chiefs the ole one two! Mahomes has been on fire all season, but his ability in a high pressure playoff game has yet to be seen. Kansas City is stacked on offense, but their defense is known to give away points; especially to good quarterbacks. Luck is 4-3 in postseason games which shows he certainly isn’t perfect with his back against the wall. The Chiefs are simply more rounded on offense and while Andy Reid is 19-18 in the playoffs, this is arguably the best offense he’s coached in his career. I’m seeing this one as an easy win for Kansas City coming off their bye week. They’ll be rested and well prepared to exploit the Colts defense. Chiefs 44, Colts 27

 

Patriots vs. Chargers Predictions

Waleed Ismail:  As a life-long Chicago Bears fans, this weekend has shown me the futility of hope. If there is a God, he is a cruel and unforgiving God. He delights in raining misery on his followers. He savors the sweet tears of the dejected, for it is ambrosia onto Him. We are truly in the darkest timeline. New England Patriots 34, Chargers 3

(Note: I wrote this before Waleed’s entry, but I know him pretty well so I’m confident I can respond accurately to his prediction) Evan Hoovler: Haha, so true, Waleed! Those are some great facts. Here’s another New England Patriots fact: The Patriots are 8-0 at home. Here’s a Los Angeles Chargers fact: The Chargers are 8-1 on the road. Here’s a bonus fact: If there are infinite universes, this is the one where everything always turns out awful. New England 21, Chargers 20

Mike Maxwell: This game is a statistical dream for NFL nuts. Brady is undefeated (7-0) against Rivers. The Chargers are 7-1 on the road this season. The Bolts also won a ‘home’ game in London too. The Pats are the opposite of the Chiefs in regards to a choppy start but then zipping along to close the season. There’s no point to look up the offensive weapons because Brady could be throwing to the hot dog vendor and make it work Sunday. I argue this game will be more surprising to them as their schedule this year was a mild cake walk. Chargers fans should be excited about their chances here. Rivers is playing with the looseness of an old sheriff making his last ride. Let’s be honest by now, there should’ve been like four key injuries to the Chargers. They’re healthy and a young aggressive defense. Chargers 27, Patriots 20

Jeff Krisko: I keep going back and forth on this one, fighting my heart and my brain. My heart tells me that I’m sick and tired of Tom Brady winning and watching him go one-and-done in 2018 would be… *Italian Chef Kiss*. My brain tells me that Tom Brady will never lose until he gets to at least the AFC Championship Game until the polar ice caps melt (so sometime around 2025). Ultimately, I am going to go with team #gradualdecline and call this one for the Chargers. Now that their Joey Bosa-Melvin Ingram one-two punch is fully functional, they are one of the top-six teams in the league in both sack percentage (10% in the last three games) and opponent completion percentage (57.58% in their last three). The Patriots, for their part, are middling in yards per completion, and they have one of the worst sack percentages in the league. That means a lot of hurries and hits for Tom Brady, and not so many for Philip Rivers. Despite Gordon being banged up, I believe enough in this Chargers offense to go… Chargers 30, Patriots 24

Will Button: The Chargers looked phenomenal against the Ravens in Baltimore last week, but a raven is tiny and weak, and honestly the morals behind the Chargers harming an innocent animal are questionable at best. This week, they get to face some patriots, which are large and strong. Gronk was quoted this week saying “Gronk want blood, thirsty. Gronk hungry for win. Gronk want Funyuns and queso.” This continued for 40 minutes, but the message was clear; the Patriots are hungry for wins in this postseason. We can talk all day about how great Brady and Belichick are in the postseason, but Brady hasn’t been himself in a while, while Rivers has been on fire. Though the Patriots had last week off and are playing in Foxboro, I can easily see the Chargers out running and out throwing the Patriots in the long run. The Pats obviously haven’t lost at home all season, but the Chargers have only lost once on the road. This will be an exciting back-and-forth matchup until Brady gets flustered and the Chargers send Gordon to the end zone multiple times to teach them a lesson. I’m taking the Chargers in this must-watch matchup. Chargers 34, Patriots 27

 

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