NFL Divisional Playoffs: Picks & predictions
Three NFL head coaches have won 36 games in the postseason.
That tie can be broken this weekend.
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick can move ahead of former Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry and former Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula his team beats the Tennessee Titans on Saturday.
Belichick, Mike Tomlin and Sean Payton are the only Super Bowl-winning coaches of the eight teams remaining in the playoffs. Tomlin's Pittsburgh Steelers will play at home, along with Belichick's Patriots, but Payton has to take the New Orleans Saints north to face the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium -- the site of Super Bowl LII.
NFL Divisional Playoffs predictions
Atlanta Falcons (11-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)
For the first time ever, a number six seed is a favorite to beat the top overall seed in any conference. Because of the ACL injury to Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, the Atlanta Falcons are slight favourites to win at Lincoln Financial Field.
Wentz's backup, Nick Foles, has struggled and was downright abysmal in a 6-0 loss to the Cowboys in Week 17. If the Eagles cannot generate some offense against the Falcons, it might be too much to ask for Philadelphia's fourth-ranked defense to keep Atlanta from scoring.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan enters Saturday's game with a passer rating of at least 100 in five consecutive postseason games, tied for the second-longest streak in NFL history. Only former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana had a longer streak with eight games.
Prediction: Falcons 24, Eagles 16
The @Eagles have totaled fewer than 220 yards of offense in their last two home games, the first time they've done so since 1999. I wonder if the Carson Wentz injury has anything to do with it? h/t @OptaJerry#ATLvsPHIpic.twitter.com/pQ4YWVmXZQ-- Omnisport US News (@OmnisportUS) January 11, 2018
Tennessee Titans (10-7) at New England Patriots (13-3)
The Titans were down 21-3 to the Kansas City Chiefs last Saturday before storming back for a 22-21 victory at Arrowhead Stadium. If they get into a 21-3 hole against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium, there probably won't be any digging out of it.
The Patriots have been superb at home in the postseason with six straight wins in Foxborough. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, with his five Super Bowl titles, has the most playoff wins in history by a starting quarterback with 25. A victory over the Titans will send the Patriots to the AFC championship game for the seventh straight season.
New England will be rested and probably annoyed by the widely disputed report of turmoil within the organisation. An angry Brady is generally a good Brady and the Titans may feel his wrath on Saturday.
Prediction: Patriots 31, Titans 10
Jacksonville Jaguars (11-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3)
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be out to prove that 30-9 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 5 was a fluke. Roethlisberger was intercepted five times in that game and the Steelers will look to establish running back Le'Veon Bell early.
The Steelers defense will likely key on Jaguars back Leonard Fournette after he ran for 181 yards in the regular-season matchup. If the Steelers can contain Fournette, it's unlikely struggling Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles will be able to outduel Roethlisberger, who will have All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown back from injury.
Prediction: Steelers 34, Jaguars 13
New Orleans Saints (12-5) at Minnesota Vikings (13-3)
This might be the best game of the weekend and is also a rematch of sorts from a regular-season game. The Saints were dealt a 29-19 defeat in their last trip to U.S. Bank Stadium, but that was in Week 1 when the Saints still had Adrian Peterson. The Vikings also look different after quarterback Sam Bradford and rookie running back Dalvin Cook were lost to knee injuries.
Case Keenum stepped in for Bradford and has had an MVP-type season. Vikings receiver Adam Thielen is turning into a star with 91 catches for 1,276 yards and running back Latavius Murray started to come on over the last month of the regular season.
The Vikings don't quite have the offensive weapons the Saints do in quarterback Drew Brees, receiver Michael Thomas and running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, but Minnesota does have the NFL's best defense and that might be the difference on Sunday.
Prediction: Vikings 27, Saints 23
The #Vikings allowed teams to convert just 25.3% of their third downs this season, the best rate of any defense in the NFL. And it doesn't stop there... h/t @OptaJerry#NOvsMINpic.twitter.com/043FXyeWLS-- Omnisport US News (@OmnisportUS) January 11, 2018