We're on to the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs after Wild Card weekend. Now that the matchups are set, it's time to break down each game and determine who will move on!
Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs
When: Saturday 1/12 at 4:35 p.m. ET (NBC)
After a decisive 21-7 win against the Texans Saturday, the Colts are headed to Kansas City to take on Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs No. 1-scoring offense. Indianapolis comes in hot with the best record, point differential, and defense since Week 7. Running back Marlon Mack is fresh off a record-setting 148-yard performance against the best run defense in the league, so expect the Colts to continue to pound the ball against a Kansas City defense that is horrid against the run, giving up five yards per carry.
The 12-4 Chiefs come in off a bye looking for their first home playoff win since Joe Montana was under center in 1994. This game poses one of the best quarterback matchups in playoff history with Mahomes and Luck facing off. Mahomes led the league's most explosive offense, throwing for over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in his first year as a starter, while Luck is the favorite for NFL Comeback Player of the Year with his 4,593-yard, 39-touchdown season. KC's offense is scary good boasting four first-team All-Pro selections in 2018.
Prediction: Colts 31, Chiefs 24
Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City offense have been one of the best stories of the 2018 NFL season, but this defense is one of the league's worst. While the Chiefs D can get after the passer, they allow 405 yards per game. Andrew Luck has the weapons, and the offensive line, to win this game.
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams
When: Saturday 1/12 at 8:15 p.m. ET (FOX)
The Cowboys are coming off a huge home playoff win. Quarterback Dak Prescott made one of the best plays of the year, scrambling to convert a 3rd and 14 and putting Dallas in position to score their most important points of the season. Ezekiel Elliott had a great game as well, toting the rock 26 times for 137 yards and a touchdown, while also making some key blocks out of the backfield.
COWBOYS GET IT DONE IN DALLAS! 鸞 pic.twitter.com/3cL3ZLVH6u— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 6, 2019
Los Angeles' high-powered offense will have their hands full against a strong Dallas front seven coming off one of their best performances by shutting down Seattle's No. 1-ranked rushing attack. If the Rams can get ahead early, they can take advantage of a Cowboys team that's not built to play from behind. The Rams star-studded defense has been "star" in name only this season, so they'll need to hold up their end of the bargain by bottling up Elliott in the run game.
Prediction: Cowboys 26, Rams 23
I'm picking the upset here too. I sold my stock on the Rams a while ago. I like what Sean McVay has done with Jared Goff and the Rams offense, but their defense has real trouble stopping the run. Dallas is 10-0 when Zeke goes over 120 yards rushing and wide receiver Amari Cooper is a disciplined route-runner that can really exploit a cornerback in Marcus Peters, who likes to take chances.
Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots
When: Sunday 1/13 at 1:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
Phillip Rivers' Los Angeles Chargers are headed to New England trying to change history. Since Rivers took over the starting job, the Chargers are 0-7 against Tom Brady and the Patriots, including 0-2 in the playoffs. Los Angeles' defense stifled a Ravens offense that came in tearing up the league with their rushing attack. Rookie All-Pro safety Derwin James was everywhere and defensive end Melvin Ingram had a day, posting seven tackles and two sacks with a forced fumble and fumble recovery. The Chargers D will look to take advantage of a Patriots offense that has looked a little more vulnerable than in years past.
Los Angeles, CA— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) January 7, 2019
Back home with the dub
It's definitely telling of how successful your franchise is when 11-5 with the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye is a "down year." Tom Brady and New England have been mainstays in the AFC playoff picture for what seems like forever now. While history is on their side, it won't be easy for the Patriots against a loaded Chargers team. But discipline, weather, home field advantage and the bye week (11-1 after a playoff bye) are all in the Pats' favor. RB Sony Michel will be a key factor in this game as well.
Prediction: Patriots 24, Chargers 17
While the LA Chargers have better personnel than New England, they struggled to put away a Baltimore Ravens team that fumbled three times in their first eight offensive plays and completed three passes for 25 yards through the first three quarters. I've seen this movie too many times, I know how it ends.
Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints
When: Sunday 1/13 at 4:40 p.m. ET (FOX)
The Eagles continue their magic carpet ride into New Orleans after narrowly beating the Chicago Bears Sunday. After the Wild Card weekend win, quarterback Nick Foles possesses the highest passer rating in NFL playoff history. Philly has been playing well in the trenches over the last six weeks, giving up a combined one sack and six QB hits against some of the league's best pass rushers.
Drew Brees and the No. 1 New Orleans Saints will look to throw a party when the Eagles struggling pass defense comes marching in. Philly's defensive backfield has been decimated by injuries while the Saints have one of the most prolific offensive attacks in the league. The 39-year-old Brees may be able to make a late push for the NFL MVP with a Super Bowl run after a great statistical year for the future Hall-of-Famer.
Prediction: Saints 31, Eagles 27
Philly can't do it again, can they? The Eagles secondary gave up 300 yards to Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky (who missed some throws). Drew Brees won't miss. In home playoff games with New Orleans, Brees is 5-0, averaging 306 yards per game with 12 touchdowns to only one interception.