NFL Divisional Round Predictions:

The first round of the playoffs are behind us and the divisional round is fast approaching. Thank God. Those Wild Card games were terrible. The Raiders and Texans battled despite neither team having a decent quarterback. The Steelers and their big 3 blew out the Dolphins. The Seahawks ran all over the Lions, the Packers demolished the Giants and Odell punched a hole through a wall. Classic.

It’s now time for predictions, because we all know that pundits never get anything wrong:

Game 1: Patriots vs. Texans

Pats Pulpit

Brandon: While Odell was punching things, Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick, was fast asleep after realizing his team was awarded two bye rounds this year. Do we really need to talk about this game? It’s Tom Brady against Brock Osweiler. Are we back to that quarterback? Maybe it’s Tom Savage’s turn again. Either way, this game should be extremely easy for the Patriots and I’m expecting a blowout in Gillette Stadium. Patriots: 38 Texans: 16

Avi: Let’s go. Hot off a resounding win against the 12–4 Raiders, the Texans are looking to live up to the hype as the champions of the hotly contested AFC South. The $72 million man is in peak form after taking a two week rest before the playoffs and he’s ready to kick ass. Tom Brady who? That old man had his time, he’s probably at home pounding some disgusting colon medicine just to get himself camera-ready for this. Aren’t you bored of them already? Honestly. Even their coach has lost interest. If the Texans defense can make some plays and the offense doesn’t turn the ball over they may have a legitimate shot at not getting embarrassed. Patriots: 20 Texans: 10

Matthew:

Advantage:

Quarterback: Patriots

Running back: Patriots

Receivers: Patriots

O-line: Patriots

Defense: Texans

This is going to be the worst matchup this weekend. Even though Houston may have a great defense, the Patriots are UNSTOPPABLE. With the one team they fear (the Giants) out of the playoffs, they are on pace to win it again. Tom Brady, the ageless wonder, is the GOAT! He has the stats and the rings to prove it. LeGarrette Blount had 18 TD’s this year! Even with Gronk out, any receiver with Tom Brady throwing the ball is better than any other team. The game won’t even be close and by half the Patriots will be able to bench Brady for Garoppolo. Patriots: 42 Texans: 13

Benjamin:

If you have any weekend plans or last minute chores, you may want to do them Saturday night at around 8:15. This one just makes you shake your head. Tom Brady is a god, the Patriots are unbelievable. The Texans…eh, they have DeAndre Hopkins who is still figuring things out with Brock Osweiler. Expect an outcome similar to the Pats massacre of the Jets back in week 16. Patriots 35 Texans 10

Aaron:

Tom Brady is going to his sixth straight appearance in the AFC championship. I mean come on, the Texans got Oakland without a QB in the first round. As long as between now and Saturday night Brady doesn’t get sick or break an arm, I have the Patriots. Look, the Texans have a great defense (even without JJ Watt), but Brady and Belichick are going to dissect them in New England and Osweiler is going to be put into many long drives and will make a couple big mistakes. Patriots 35–10 Texans

Game 2: Steelers vs. Chiefs

USA Today

Brandon: Look, The killer B’s are a force. Big Ben, AB, and Lev Bell are the best trio in the game. When they’re feeling it, they can’t be stopped. Le’veon Bell patiently waits behind his line for a hole to open then explodes his way through it. AB has the skill set like no other WR and is the best in the league. If Big Ben is healthy and able to run and put pressure on his foot, which I believe he is, then they will take out the Chiefs. This game will be exciting. Chiefs will put up a fight. New star, Tyreek Hill, is as explosive as you get. He does it all. I give the edge to the Steelers as they have more offensive fire power. Steelers: 28 Chiefs: 24

Avi: There are very few things in the NFL that are more impressive than a fully armed Steelers lineup (one of which is James Harrison’s workout routine because holy shit he’s like 40 and he’s the man). We got to see them in full force when they annihilated the Dolphins and pretty much stopped trying after the first half. However, one thing that does worry me is Big Ben’s questionable play. I don’t know why, but he hasn’t looked 100% in a while, and those two interceptions didn’t do anything to make me think otherwise. Against a defense like the Chiefs’, those potential turnovers will be much more costly. As much as I like the Steelers, I have to go Chiefs just because they can play both sides of the field, something Pittsburgh hasn’t done well this season. Chiefs: 24 Steelers: 17

Matthew:

Advantage:

Quarterback: Steelers

Running back: Steelers

Receivers: Steelers

O-line: Steelers

Defense: Chiefs

This is the most underrated matchup this weekend. The Steelers may have advantages in most of the positional categories, but it doesn’t mean they will win. The Chiefs defense has been so dominant this year. They lead the league with 18 interceptions and 15 fumbles! Even though the Steelers have an O-line with 2 Pro Bowlers, the Chiefs dominant D-line led by Justin Houston will get to Big Ben. The match-up to watch this game is the best wide receiver in the game in Antonio Brown vs. the interception machine in Marcus Peters. The game will come down to the wire with a game winning field goal. Steelers: 24 Chiefs: 21

Benjamin:

The Chiefs were fun to watch this season. Alex Smith played very well, making the most of Pro Bowl tight end, Travis Kelce. Their running game had its ups and downs, when Jaamal Charles went down for the rest of the season everyone wrote them off, only for their running game to be rescued by Spencer Ware. And that defense was fantastic. But, the Steelers are just too good. They’re that Madden team you always want to play with, because they have so many weapons. Lead by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who best resembles a statue and refuses to go down, the Steelers offense simply can not be stopped. Le’veon Bell is a monster who is able to do everything: rush, catch, or both (see: week 14 matchup against Buffalo Bills. Bell Net Yards: 298). Antonio Brown is simply not human, but you knew that. This offense is a thing of beauty that will certainly put on a show. Steelers 31 Chiefs 21

Aaron:

I really like the Steelers. They are a complete, well rounded team, and most importantly- an experienced playoff team. With a great coach who has been here, a great QB who knows how to win in the postseason (if and when healthy), an elite running back and wide receiver, and a defense that shut down a decent offense in the Wild Card game, Andy Reid isn’t going to be celebrating after this one. While the Steelers are a little streaky, I just don’t really see the Chiefs winning this game. Steelers 28 –20 Chiefs

Game 3: Seahwaks vs. Falcons

USA Today

Brandon: Seahawks are deadly. Falcons are not. Not even close. They did have a lights out season, but they are too inconsistent. Matt Ryan is always a risky play and they really only have one main guy: Julio Jones. And he may not be 100% because of his foot! Meanwhile, Thomas Rawls is running away from defenders, Wilson is completing 40 yard passes, and Doug Baldwin is only getting better. No one is injured and they have strong momentum coming off a major win against Detroit. Seahawks: 31 Falcons: 21

Avi: Richard Sherman is the man. He basically coaches the team at this point when he’s not dancing with the team’s cheerleaders or co-leading a women’s fitness class. That doesn’t change the fact that the Falcons offense is awesome and without Earl Thomas the Legion of Boom is clearly lacking. It’s amazing to see how much of a difference one guy can make. Their offense is also significantly weaker than the previous teams that made deep playoff runs. As much as Chris Collinsworth wants me to believe it, Thomas Rawls is no Marshawn Lynch on or off the field. The lack of a run threat has also severely impacted Russell Wilson’s status as an “elite” quarterback. Vic Beasley will eat the Seahawks’ O-line alive. The one thing I’m looking forward to watching is Richard Sherman matching up with Julio Jones. That should be fun. Falcons: 31 Seahawks: 13

Matthew:

Advantage:

Quarterback: Falcons

Running back: Falcons

Receivers: Falcons

O-line: Falcons

Defense: Seahawks

This game won’t be as close as most people think it will. The Seahawks defense hasn’t been the same without Earl Thomas. Russell Wilson is the most overrated quarterback in football. Even though he had an injured knee this season, he was awful in the pocket and if you’re a top quarterback you should be able to throw in the pocket. Matt Ryan has been unbelievable this season with the help of Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, and Julio Jones. The duo of Freeman and Coleman have been dominant and Jones is a top 3 wide receiver in football. The game will come down to whether or not the Seahawks offense can produce because if they can’t, it will be a blow out. Falcons: 28 Seahawks: 20

Benjamin:

Wow. These NFC games are great, aren’t they? The Seahawks are coming off a monster game against the Lions, where they found their new beast mode in Thomas Rawls. Russell Wilson has proven himself as one of the game’s best signal callers, and with the Legion Of Boom hovering in their secondary it’s tough to bet against them. Yet, the Falcons make a very strong case. MVP candidate, Matt Ryan, leads a strong a powerful offense that’s firing on all cylinders. Their backfield consists of the scary duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Pro Bowl receiver, Julio Jones, will give the LOB a run for their money. As intimidating as the Falcons are, defense wins championships. Seahawks 17 Falcons 14

Aaron:

Matt Ryan has been elite this year. He led the NFL in passer rating (117.1) with almost 5,000 throwing the ball, and 37 touchdowns. The Falcons offense has been awesome with a dominant running back duo and Julio Jones! This game is being played at the Georgia Dome with the wild Atlanta fans echoing inside. On the other side though, we have team that has been a staple in the playoffs for last five years- the Seattle Seahawks. They are experienced and have one heck of a football team. With a great running game and a healthy Russell Wilson this team will put up a great fight. But, these Seahawks aren’t the same Seahawks that brought them to two Super Bowls and this isn’t the same Matt Ryan that struggled in past postseasons. Falcons 27–20 Seahawks

Game 4: Packers vs. Cowboys

The Fantasy Authority

Brandon: This game is the most difficult one to predict. These are both top teams with lots of momentum. I don’t believe the Cowboys are going to play as well as people think. The pressure will be too much for them. I see this game being a shootout. Even without Jordy Nelson, Aaron Rodgers has the ability to make his players better. Look for Davante Adams to shine again along with Randall Cobb. The Cowboys will fight and score, but it wont be enough. Packers: 28 Cowboys: 24

Avi: The ‘Boys get no respect. They have the best record in the NFL for a reason. Yes, they lost to the Giants (twice!) and nearly lost a few others but they stuck it out and persevered. Right now, neither defense is super impressive so it really comes down to which offense can control the game. Rodgers’ group is really good, but so are the O-line led Cowboys. Dak has demonstrated an incredible ability to move his group down the field with maniacal efficiency, draining tons of clock time in the process. I don’t trust the Packers defense to put the clamps down when they’ll need to. Jason Garrett, Princeton graduate, understands that his guys won’t win a shootout but that can win a war of attrition. Look for long, precise run-centric drives from the Cowboys in this game as they wind down the clock, wear down the defense, and keep Rodgers on the sideline. Cowboys: 24 Packers: 21

Matthew:

Advantage:

Quarterback: Packers

Running back: Cowboys

Receivers: Packers

O-line: Cowboys

Defense: Cowboys

With the Giants out of the playoffs, Ezekiel Elliott can finally come out of the Salvation Army kettle. This is the most interesting matchup this weekend, can the rookies defeat the red hot Aaron Rodgers (who somehow completes all his hail marries)? Without Jordy Nelson the Packers are still the better team. The Giants have a better defense than the Cowboys and Rodgers destroyed them so imagine what Rodgers can and will do against a weak Cowboys defense. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have been very good this season but this is their first playoff game and as we saw with many great players (see: OBJ) it’s not easy. Will they overtake their nerves or will they let their nerves overtake them? We will have to wait and see. Packers: 34 Cowboys: 27

Benjamin:

Here we go. The best vs the best. The 13–3 Cowboys host the 10–6 Packers. The Cowboys are looking to advance to the Conference round for the first time since 1996, when they won Super Bowl XXX and Jim Carrey was still the biggest star on the planet. What don’t the Cowboys have? Definitely not empty stomachs. They certainly have all the weapons. Their top-ranked offense is led by rookie running back Ezekiel Elliot, running behind the Great Wall of Dallas and Rookie Of The Year candidate, Dak Prescott calling the shots. Not to mention, they have Dez Bryant and future Hall of Famer Jason Witten leading receiving core. But, what they don’t have is Aaron Rodgers. More specifically, they don’t have a HOT Aaron Rodgers. You know, the guy who hasn’t thrown an interception in almost two months, the guy who’s thrown 22 touchdowns in his seven game winning streak. Enough said. The Cowboys stormed their way through the regular season, and they won’t go down easily in the playoffs. As strong as the Cowboys are, it’s hard to bet against a hot Packers led by a scalding Rodgers. Packers 31 Cowboys 27.

Aaron:

Both really talented teams. Wouldn’t be surprised seeing either of them still playing Football in February, but luckily for every other team still in the playoffs only one of these teams will be moving on. The Packers are hungry, like really hungry. They just destroyed the Giants, they have Aaron Rodgers, and even without Jordy their passing game isn’t slowing down. But, the ‘boys are great too. They have two rookies who are the next batman and robin, peanut butter and jelly, and salt and pepper. They also have the best Offensive Line in the history of Football, Dez Bryant, oh and wait a defense that ranked 5th in points allowed. Uch… tough decision, but if I have to choose it is gonna be the Packers. Nothing can stop Rodgers right now, he is playing as well as any signal caller EVER. This is going to be a good one guys. Green Bay 31–28 Dallas

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