NFL PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS: DIVISIONAL ROUND
Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs
Why Indianapolis wins: I’d like to apologize to every Colts fan who read my Wildcard piece. Indianapolis’ defense is forreal forreal. Like who cares about the names on the back of a jersey? Those kids can flat out ball, and Matt Ebeflus had his unit rockin’ against the Texans. The offensive line is more dominant than advertised -- if that’s at all possible. And Andrew Luck is back and making guys like Eric Ebron look like an All-Pro (Damn, Matt Stafford couldn’t get production from him like this….. that’s an awful lot of money spent). Did I mention, I was wrong for doubting the Colts? The Houston win was an utter display of dominance in all phases of the game, and the Chiefs’ achilles heel is their secondary. We know, Andrew Luck is going to have a field day and could mitigate Kansas City’s pass rush with quick throws -- something he’s added to his repertoire in 2018-- but if they can continue to control the clock with Marlon Mack, and the defense finds a way to confuse Patrick Mahomes, Frank Reich’s crew is going to be rolling into the AFC Championship Game.
PS: Can Pat Mahomes outscore an Andrew Luck team with a better defense? I don’t know mane.
Why Kansas City wins: Word on the streets is that Chiefs head coach Andy Reid can’t win big games. That might change this year, as he boasts the most explosive offense he’s ever had -- and that says a lot -- thanks to the three-headed monster of Tyreek Hill (the game’s fastest), Travis Kelce (the game’s best tight end) and the pending MVP, Patrick “Kermit” Mahomes. If the dynamic trio can spray the scoreboard and Kansas City’s pass rush, a talented group featuring Chris Jones (15.5 sacks), Dee Ford (13.0 sacks) and Justin Houston (9.0 sacks), provides the same type of ferocity they have all year, there should be no reason why the AFC’s No. 1 seed doesn’t reach the conference championship.
Who wins: Colts, 31-27
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams
1/12/19 7:15 PM
Why LA Rams win: Los Angeles finished the 2018 regular season tied with New Orleans for the NFL’s best record (13-3) with their only losses coming against playoff teams (New Orleans, Philadelphia and Chicago). A lot of their success had to do with wonderboy Sean McVay, a coaching phenom whose offensive genius has since paved the way for guys like Kliff Kingsbury in Arizona and Zac Taylor in Cincinatti — lol I’m leaving that alone. Under the steady guide of McVay, Los Angeles finished the campaign ranked second in both yards per game (421.1) and points (32.9). Though the Cowboys own one of the NFL’s top defenses and proved to be worth all the Big Mama’s chicken —v. good thing — on the postseason stage in their 2018 Wildcard victory, when they suffocated Russell Wilson and held the Seahawks to 22 points, the Rams boast the most creative offense the Boys have faced this year and are led by a plethora of game-breakers -- Todd Gurley (top 2 running back) Robert Woods (one of the best complementary receivers and route-runners in football), Brandin Cooks (the first player in league history to put up 1,000 receiving yards in three straight seasons with three different teams) and Jared Goff ( fourth in the NFL in passing yards). Dallas might not be able to keep up if this becomes a track meet.
Defensively, the Rams haven’t been as impressive as their roster suggests. I mean, if you look on paper, Los Angeles might have the NFL’s most high-profile defense -- Ndamukong Suh, Aaron Donald (The Real MVP), ballhawks in the secondary in John Johnson, Marcus “North Oakland” Peters and Aqib Talib, a tonesetter/rangy safety in Lamarcus Joyner and a group of fast linebackers. With that being said, they played most of the season without Talib -- a North Dallas, America veteran -- and didn’t have a dominant edge rusher until acquiring Dante Fowler before the trade deadline. With a healthy back end, a stout interior defensive line and the brilliance of “Son of a Bum” Wade Phillips (defensive coordinator), Los Angeles has the perfect recipe to halt a Dallas offense that relies largely on the legs of Ezekiel Elliott, as they can load up the box, play man-to-man coverage and blitz Dakota Prescott at will.
Why Dallas wins: Playoff Dak and regular season Dakota are basically Buddy Love and Professor Klump. Whenever the lights come on, the signal-caller turns into a gunslinger who can throw with the best of em’-- kinda how Buddy was much more charismatic than poor Dr. Klump. During Dallas’ 24-22 victory over Seattle, he was fantastic, completing 66.7 percent of his passes for 226 yards and a score and adding 29 yards, including the game-sealing 16-yard dash on 3rd-and-long, and another score on the ground. If he plays anything like he did in the Wildcard contest, Dallas has a shot, as he served as the perfect complement to the ever-steady Zeke Elliott -- accounted for over 150 total yards in the game.
Dallas’ “Hot Boys” are just like the original ones from New Orleans -- gritty, tough and full of talented young bouls who have the ability to turn into a host of superstar individuals. They got after Russell Wilson, refusing to allow him to find comfort and holding the league’s top rushing attack to 73 total yards. Another thing that works in Dallas’ favor is Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is 4-3 against Sean Mcvay as an offensive coordinator and the Boys’ own wonderboy Kris Richard enjoyed a ton of success against McVay and Co. as the Seahawks’ DC in 2017.
Who wins: Rams, 31-17
Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots
Why New England wins: It’s borderline insane to go against Tom Brady in the playoffs. I mean, how do you seriously bet against a guy who’s 27-10 in the postseason and has the most intelligent football mind in league history, the sleeveless wonder Bill Belichick, controlling the game like a ringmaster at a circus? Just doesn’t work. Though overmatched on paper, the Patriots find a way to win these type of football games.
Why LA Chargers win: Have you ever seen a team play the majority of its defensive snaps with seven defensive backs? I hadn’t either until Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley put together a Hall of Fame-worthy scheme during Los Angeles’ win over Baltimore in the Wildcard. I don’t think the same thing could work against Brady and Co., but I’m intrigued to see what they have in store for the five-time Super Bowl champ. Could get interesting, as the Chargers are loaded on all three levels and are led by arguably the best pass rushing duo in football in Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa.
The Patriots’ defense is never anything to write home about. Honestly, what’s the point of penning a summary to Dearest Clara when you always find a way to win? Just sounds superlous. With that being said, Philip Rivers’ (my favorite quarterback in the NFL) reputation is one marred by incredible regular season performances and postseason shortcomings. Don't’ see that happening here as Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen are healthy. Mike Williams is also proving to be the red-zone threat the team so desperately needed. Uh oh, Anthony Lynn with the upset.
Who wins: Patriots, 21-18
Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints
Why Philadelphia wins: I’m here to tell you the Boudain Boys are frauds. Once you get past the dancing, team photos and drunken fans celebrating throughout the streets of New Orleans, you’ll see a team whose really good but not great enough to hoist a Lombardi. I don’t care what anyone says, but nobody wants to see Big D— Nick Foles and the Eagles’ pass rush in January. Something about this time of the season has those boys pinning their ears back and taking their show to the next level. In the past four weeks, the Eagles have beaten three of the NFL’s better teams (Houston, Los Angeles and Chicago). Do you think they forgot about that 48-7 ass whooping New Orleans handed them in Week 7? I don’t.
Why New Orleans wins: This is the same Saints team that came within a miracle play of facing the Eagles in the NFC Championship last year. That’ll surely be on their minds, as they look to make it to the conference championship game in 2018. Hall of Famer Drew Brees is having arguably his best season yet, recording a career low in interceptions (five). The two-headed monster of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram has continued to torch defenses. And Michael Thomas is making his case as top-5 wideout. Weirdly enough, the defense has been much-improved since the acquisition of Eli “The” Apple. Yes, I know it’s crazy, but he’s come up big.
Who wins: Eagles, 35-27