NFC Divisional Playoffs

The NFC divisional playoffs tell the story of how dynamic and transformative an NFL season can truly be. Back in week 1, Sam Bradford carved up a young and inexperienced Saints defense. Adrian Peterson rushed for 18 yards in his disappointing debut for the New Orleans Saints. The Vikings won easily and vehemently demonstrated their defensive prowess. With injuries to Sam Bradford and the Saints shipping off Adrian Peterson, this matchup has a different feel. Both teams have adjusted and should make for an interesting game. The Philadelphia Eagles all season have looked like the class of the NFC, Carson Wentz was having an MVP like season and looking to coast through the playoffs. The Atlanta Falcons have been an up-and-down inconsistent team all year long. Hardly reminiscent of the potent offense led by the offensive mind of Kyle Shanahan, who is now head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Now the Eagles are without their star quarterback until next season, reeling and trying to find an offensive identity they are hardly the same team with backup quarterback Nick Foles. The Falcons are winners of 5 out of the last 6 games and are looking like the hottest team not only in the NFC but in the NFL. The NFC playoffs are truly captivating, should be must-see football. I cannot wait.

Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Time: Saturday 3:35 CST 

TV: NBC

Where: Philadelphia, PA Lincoln Financial Field

Can Nick Foles somehow manage to make plays to lead the Eagles to a playoff victory? He will have to be flawless, meaning no turnovers. The Eagles will have to depend on their power running to win this game in Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount. If the Eagles try to beat the Falcons through the air they will lose. The Falcons flaunt one of the best secondaries in the NFL. Desmond Trufant has been stellar this year with the help of the hard-hitting Safety Keanu Neal and the emergence of one of the best coverage linebackers in the league in Deion Jones, this defense is similar to former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quin now head coach for the Falcons. This is the defense he envisioned when he joined the team a few years ago. This should shape up to be a defensive struggle. The Eagles have one of the best defenses in the NFL, they rank in the top-5 in defense in points per game (18.4), take-aways (31), total defense (306.5), and 3rd down percentage (32.2). The front 7 for the Eagles is just nasty and could spell terror for last years MVP, Matt Ryan. Lincoln Financial Field is going to be rocking, if the Eagles can force turnovers this game, it will be hard for Falcons to overcome. I think this game will be decided on who is the tougher team. It is going to be frigid and raining Saturday night in Philly. This is a hard game to call, I can very much see the Eagles win this game. For now, I am going to pick the hotter team with the better quarterback. I just can’t pick a Nick Foles ran team. Falcons 21 Eagles 17

New Orleans Saints vs Minnesota Vikings

Time: Sunday 3:40 CST 

TV: FOX

Where: Minneapolis, MN. U.S. Bank Stadium

This matchup has changed up considerably since week 1. Remove Sam Bradford and enter Case Keenum for the Vikings, remove Adrian Peterson from the Saints and enter the running back tandem of Melvin Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Case Keenum has been solid for the Vikings, and that all you can ask of him. He won’t wow you with his arm strength or size, but he makes the plays that win you the games. He threw a solid 22 touchdowns to only 6 interceptions. He doesn’t have to be great, the Vikings boast the best defense in the NFL. They rank first in almost every category and have probably the best corner in the NFL Xavier Rhodes. Saying this defense is really good is an understatement. The New Orleans Saints are in for a real nasty smash mouth game this Sunday. Drew Brees and the Saints have won 11 out of their last 14 games. The Saints young secondary has been exceptional late in the season, if they can play sound assignment football they can possibly leave with the upset. The key to this game for the Saints will be to use Alvin Kamara out of the backfield and try to stretch the field. It is nearly impossible to run on this Vikings defense, so they are going to have to try to somehow get Kamara out in space. It will be battle of the wits, Saints coach Sean Payton vs. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. I think the difference will be future hall-of-fame quarterback Drew Brees, it’s hard for me to pick against him. I say first to 20, Saints 23 Vikings 17

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