Road to Super Bowl 54: Divisional Weekend

The Road to Super Bowl 54 in Miami is officially down to eight teams, after what truly was a “wild” card weekend. A quick look at the divisional weekend matchups as we prepare to narrow the field down to the final four.

(6) Minnesota Vikings at (1) San Francisco 49ers — Saturday, January 11, 4:35 p.m. ET on NBC

“A week’s worth of discussion about, yes, running games. This game will feature two of the NFL’s six most productive rushing offenses based on yards. The Vikings are especially dependent on the presence of tailback Dalvin Cook, who has scored 10 touchdowns in their 11 victories and three in their six losses.” — Kevin Seifert, ESPN.com

(6) Tennessee Titans at (1) Baltimore Ravens — Saturday, January 11, 8:15 p.m. ET on CBS

“This game will come down to the quarterbacks… or maybe it won’t. That’s because each side boasts a fantastic rushing attack, with one coming from multiple contributors, and the other carried by one hulking pair of shoulders. History is on the side of Tennessee’s Derrick Henry, as each of the three prior postseason meetings between a team with the NFL’s leader rusher and the league’s best rushing offense have all been won by the former.” — Nick Shook, NFL.com

(4) Houston Texans at (2) Kansas City Chiefs — Sunday, January 12, 3:05 p.m. ET on CBS

“In Week 6 in Kansas City, Houston beat the Chiefs, 31-24. Carlos Hyde had a huge game for the Texans, rushing for 116 yards and a touchdown, and QB Deshaun Watson rushed for two TDs of his own. The Texans, who benefited from Buffalo QB Josh Allen’s inaccuracy in the wild-card win over the Bills, will have no such luxury against the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes, who has a 65.9 completion percentage. Kansas City’s defense is much improved since the first meeting.

The Chiefs finished the regular season with the league’s seventh-best scoring defense, up from 24th last season. That said, the Chiefs are 29th in the league in yards per carry allowed (4.9) but are fifth best in net yards per passing attempt allowed ( 5.7). Mahomes’ numbers (4,031 yards passing, 26 TDs) weren’t as eye-popping as his 2018 MVP campaign, but he was better at protecting the ball, throwing just five interceptions. The Chiefs have held three of their past five opponents under 10 points.” — Chris Mueller, YardBarker

(5) Seattle Seahawks at (2) Green Bay Packers — Sunday, January 12, 6:40 p.m. ET on FOX

“These teams have had some legendary and meaningful matchups. In the 2003 postseason, the Packers won an overtime matchup on a pick-six. In 2012, the Seahawks won the “Fail Mary” game on Monday Night Football. In the 2014 NFC Championship Game, the Seahawks came back from a 12-point deficit to win in overtime. This time, they’ll play for the right to advance to the 2019 NFC Championship Game.” — Kevin Seifert, ESPN.com

 


 

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Road to Super Bowl 52: Divisional Round

An incredible Wild Card weekend on the Road to Super Bowl 52 is officially behind us, and four teams have taken that next step they needed. The field is down to eight teams remaining, and we’re looking ahead at the Divisional Round of the 2017-18 NFL Playoffs.

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles

(Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET on NBC)

 

For the first time since 2004, the Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) will host a divisional round playoff game. However, the team will most likely be underdogs heading into their matchup against the Atlanta Falcons (11-6), despite a 13-3 record and the #2 seed in the NFC.

A steady performance from the Falcons in their Wild Card matchup against the Rams, it was the defense that provided the necessary stops, holding the high-flying Rams offense in check and limiting the team to just 13 points in a 26-13 victory. The Eagles, despite a 13-3 record and one of the hottest offenses in the league early on, will have to find their rhythm with backup quarterback Nick Foles, as starter and MVP-candidate Carson Wentz will miss the entire postseason with a torn ACL suffered in the regular season.


 

Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots

(Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET on CBS)

 

One of the unexpected storylines of the 2017 NFL season was the AFC South having not one, but two teams in the playoffs, and those two teams being the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans. After a wild 22-21 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card round, the Titans (0-7) are heading to New England to face their toughest test of the season; playing the Patriots (13-3), at home, in January, in the playoffs.

Despite rumored turmoil in the organization, the Patriots are a force to be reckoned with in the postseason at home, and many don’t expect this year to be any different. Quarterback Tom Brady finished the season with 4,577 yards, 32 touchdowns and just eight interceptions, a quietly fantastic year in what was otherwise a seemingly odd season for the Patriots.


 

Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers

(Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET on CBS)

 

Kicking off the Sunday action, the Jacksonville Jaguars (11-6) will head to Pittsburgh to take on the second-seeded Steelers (13-3) in the early game. Jacksonville hits the road after a less-than-stellar 10-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card round, a victory that saw quarterback Blake Bortles with more rushing yards than passing yards.

The Steelers, fresh off the bye week, not surprisingly come into the matchup heavily favored. However, when the two teams matchup up early in the regular season, the Jags dominated the Steelers, a 30-9 victory that saw quarterback Ben Roethlisberger toss five interceptions. After that loss, however, the Steelers managed to win 10 of their final 11 games, with their only loss being the controversial late loss to the top-seeded Patriots.


 

New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings

(Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET on FOX)

 

Rounding out the divisional round will be the red-hot New Orleans Saints (12-5) traveling to Super Bowl 52 host Minneapolis to take on the surprise of the 2017 season, the Minnesota Vikings (13-3). In a previous Week 1 matchup between the two teams, the Vikings walked away with a 29-19 victory.

The Saints, fresh off their 31-26 thriller against the Carolina Panthers which saw a late game defensive stand, will bring their high-powered offense and staggering defense into Minneapolis to face the Vikings, who have also been one of the better teams in 2017 on both sides of the football.

Surprise MVP-candidate quarterback Case Keenum, who stepped in for the injured Sam Bradford, has completed 67.6 percent of his passes for 3,546 yards, 22 touchdowns and just seven interceptions in his 15 games this season. The Vikings defense, not to be outdone, ranked at the top of the league in points allowed per game at just 14.8.

 


 

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Game Preview: Colts v. Titans

With either the Indianapolis Colts or the Houston Texans expected to finish on top of the AFC South, the Tennessee Titans are mostly glossed over. In the 2014 season, the Colts soundly defeated the Titans going 27-10 and 41-17, respectively. After a dismal 2-14 season, tying the league for worst NFL record, the Titans can only improve this year.

Titans are dependent on their new quarterback, Marcus Mariota, selected as the second overall draft pick. He’s got the whole team resting on his relatively untried shoulders. He likes to run the ball, which is not enough to win given the propensity of run-oriented quarterbacks to face trouble in the NFL. But, he seems eager to learn and improve his passing game before starting in the NFL. He’ll only be getting better as he becomes more comfortable in his role, so he’s one to watch down the line.

With a new quarterback and a lackluster defense, it’s unlikely the Titans will have a winning record this season either, because there were so few good players to carry over from last year’s season the Titans lack a foundation to build upon. Adding Dick Lebeau, of Steelers fame, to Ray Horton’s defensive team means the talent they do acquire will be well coached in the future. Brain Orakpo, OLB, and three time Pro-Bowler, just signed a four-year contract and will prove a good, solid player. Signing OLB Derrick Morgan brings some presence to the line to create something of a defense.

Expect a fledgling team when the Colts play the Titans. The big trials of the Colts year come midseason, the Colts go up against Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, and Peyton Manning from weeks five through nine.

We’re previewing this year’s Colts season. Read Colts game previews, and get hyped.

The Colts play the Titans Sunday, September 27th. Kickoff starts at 1:00 p.m. on CBS and NFL Network. Colts play in the Titans in Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN. If you’d like to watch this game live, you can buy Indianapolis Colts tickets.

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