AFC Divisional Playoffs

“We do what we always do. We show up to work and try to do the best we can do,” said Tom Brady, after being asked about the Seth Wickersham report regarding his relationship with Bill Belichick. December and the beginning of January have been an odd one for the 40-year-old quarterback. In the last four games, Tom Brady hasn’t been very Brady-like. In December he has almost as many interceptions as touchdowns. Both top-seeded teams in the AFC are marred by distractions. The Pittsburgh Steelers have been dealing with the Ben Roethlisberger speculated retirement talk, and now just a couple days from a playoff game, LeVeon Bell is going to the media talking about retirement if he is granted a long-term deal. What a mess. This is not what you would want from your team heading into a huge playoff match-up. This weekends AFC games are loaded with storylines. The storylines and drama will probably outshine the actual gameplay sadly, almost a polar opposite from the NFC games. Either way here we go:

 

Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots

Time: 7:15 CST Saturday 

TV: CBS

Where: Foxborough, MA Gillette Stadium

Starting as a two-touchdown underdog in a playoff game, the Tennessee Titans have a rough game ahead. The more I watch the Titans, the more I think, “how the hell did they make the playoffs?”. To rattle off some numbers; Titans rank 18th in scoring offense, 17th in points allowed, and 15th in pass defense. The only thing that I could find that they are any good at is stopping the run, everywhere else they are below average. Typically in playoff games, the Patriots like running the ball. Stopping the run will be key for the Titans in this game. Tom Brady has not been great as of late either, but an average Tom Brady is still going to slice this team up. Last week against the Chiefs, Marcus Mariota came out in the second half and ran a no-huddle offense. This helped Mariota call his own plays and go at his pace, similar to what he was doing at the University of Oregon. This plays to his strengths and I expect them to use the same strategy Saturday night. If the Titans are able to win this game it would be the upset of the century. Any one who would pick the Titans are either homers or are insane. The Patriots stay alive one more week, Pats 34 Titans 17

Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers

Time: 12:05 CST Sunday

TV: CBS

Where: Pittsburgh, PA Heinz Field

This game has the makeup of a potentially great old-school smash mouth playoff game. The Jaguars come into Heinz field with a nasty hard-hitting defense in a cold Sunday afternoon. Does Big Ben still have more legendary plays left in him? Will he win another SuperBowl and ride off into the sunset. This game can really reverberate the whole landscape for the future of this franchise and the rest of the NFL. Last time these teams met, the Jaguars were able to pick off Roethlisberger 5 times (2 returned for touchdowns), and Pittsburgh was ran off the field 30-9. Ben Roethlisberger even questioned himself saying, “maybe I don’t have it anymore”. The Jags enter this game with the top-ranked passing defense and is second in the league in turnovers. This does not bode well for a Steelers team that has it’s the whole identity of being a pass first team. Of course, the Steelers still have LeVeon Bell running the ball, but Jacksonville boasts one of the best run defenses in the NFL. Malik Jackson is one of the best run stoppers in the game right now. Vegas picked the Steelers to win this game by (-7), I just don’t see it happening. Antonio Brown is going to play injured against Jalen Ramsey, I don’t like that matchup for Pittsburgh. The Jags on defense can counter any attack the Steelers have. I think Big Ben will throw a couple picks sending Jacksonville into Foxborough for an AFC Championship showdown. Jags 23 Steelers 17

 

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