National Football League picks divisional round: Predictions for every game


Home teams are in all caps. It's been the big, powerful teams that have given the Falcons trouble this year. The two teams meet again in Pittsburgh, a day after the Patriots play host to the upset-minded Tennessee Titans.

But the results from last weekend are the topper. Tom Brady will be laser-focused, Bill Belichick will be trying to score 75 points, and the defense isn't going to be challenged by Marcus Mariota and Co. It feels like the narrative has shifted too far - that instead of people thinking it will be more hard for the Eagles to win without Wentz, they're now taking for granted that it will be impossible.

That's because, after quarterback Nick Foles' bad performance during the last two regular season games, I'm not exactly brimming with optimism and am wary of spreading skepticism, in case it's contagious. "You oughta think about that.' I thought it was really important to stay true and consistent to how you play", Quinn said in a conference call with the Philly media. After running for 465 yards for Miami, he's logged 408 for Philadelphia. The Eagles are the first team in National Football League history to be the underdog as the one seed versus the six seed.

The playoffs are new territory for several players, however.

The key to the Falcons' recent success has come on the defensive side of the ball.

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"I think everybody perceives us as being the weakest and that is fine", Johnson told reporters this week. Nick Foles wasn't supposed to be in this position, not when the season had reached such a critical juncture. Philadelphia's defensive line is stout, and Atlanta will have to play their best game of the season in order to win. Will the Patriots get to the AFC title game for the millionth time? Many will call this pick insane or a "hot take", but there's real data to back up the claim that the Jaguars are just as good - if not better - than the Steelers.

Here comes Jacksonville, following an offensive stinker in beating outmanned Buffalo.

The Eagles need only look under center to see why they are suddenly seen as longshots. They had no business blowing an 18-point second half lead but they did. They're saying, 'hey, we got good players and we got guys that are going to fly around and play fast.

Foles is 65 of 105 (61.9 percent) for 842 yards with five touchdowns passes and one interceptions in those three games against Cover-3 defenses. He averaged five yards per carry.

This game is going to be a lot closer than people expect and is going to come down to a clutch field goal at the end.

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Expect a shootout in the best game of the week when the two best teams in the NFC face-off.

But this one is in New England.

Regardless, the Falcons must approach this matchup as if they were heading to New Orleans to face Drew Brees.

Atlanta did a good enough job containing the Rams' destructive front four, but quarterback Matt Ryan was also forced to make some exceptional plays while under heavy pressure. The most obvious one is home-field advantage, which is particularly important to Minnesota this season. For decades, this fanbase has desperately pleaded for a defense that would lead this franchise to a playoff win on the road.

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