NFL News and Rumors: What to watch for in NFL Divisional Playoffs
NFL Playoffs - Divisional Round
Anyone else love the NFL taking over on both Saturday's and Sunday's? Great, us too. Make your picks: Tom Brady vs. Philip Rivers? Andrew Luck vs. Patrick Mahomes? Much to watch for this upcoming weekend with the NFL Divisional round of the postseason.
Scroll through to find schedules, matchups, and more this week:
- Indianpolis Colts vs. Kansas City Chiefs
- Dallas Cowboys vs. Los Angeles Rams
- Los Angeles Chargers vs. New England Patriots
- Philadelphia Eagles vs. New Orleans Saints
Indianapolis vs. Kansas City
Indianapolis Colts (10-6) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
Kickoff 1:35 PM (PT); Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
Andrew Luck vs. Patrick Mahomes
Through the air this season, Luck has put up 4,593 passing yards (5th), 39 touchdowns (2nd), and 15 interceptions (T-30th). On the other side of the field, MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes’ numbers are slightly higher: 5,097 passing yards (2nd), 50 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions (T-20th).
There is going to be a lot of offense in this one. Two similar offensive styles, two dominant tight ends, speedy receivers who pose a constant deep threat, call for points on points on points. The it factor will be which defense can hold up? Which defense can get one more stop or slow down just enough to force field goals in the red zone? Which defense will win the turnover battle?
Let’s break down the two offenses: Both quarterbacks are deadly accurate in the passing game. Each team has an elite, physical with good hands tight end: Travis Kelce (KC) and Eric Ebron (IND). Elite, experienced, shift receivers? Yeah, you can put Tyreek Hill (KC) and T.Y. Hilton (IND) at the top of that category.
Defensively, is where this game will be decided: Up for Pepsi Rookie of the Year is Colts linebacker Darius Leonard, who has recorded 163 tackles during the regular season. On the flip side, you got CB Steven Nelson in the Chiefs’ secondary who recorded four interceptions during the regular season.
You want to talk about momentum? The Colts are riding a five-game win streak heading into Saturday.
Line: KC -5.5
Dallas vs. Los Angeles (Rams)
Dallas Cowboys (10-6) vs. Los Angeles Rams (13-3)
Kickoff 5:15 PM (PT); The Coliseum, Los Angeles, California
If you like a running style that is an in-your-face, run-you-over, stiff arm wrecking ball through tackles, you’ve come to the right place in this NFC Divisional playoff game. Todd Gurley (LAR) vs. Ezekiel Elliott (DAL). The big question here: Will Elliott once again show up hungry like he did vs. the Seattle Seahawks last week or did he slip into “food coma”? They say run games and defense travels during the postseason, and Elliott will have to perform.
But that is no easy task when you’re up against the potential Defensive Player of the Year in Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald. On the other side, Gurley has had an extra week to rest and watch film on that ever-so-talented Dallas linebacker duo of rookie Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith.
Line: LAR -7.0
Los Angeles (Chargers) vs. New England
Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) vs. New England Patriots (11-5)
Kickoff 10:05 AM (PT) at Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Name a more iconic coach/player duo than Tom Brady and Bill Belichick… Year after year we see the New England Patriots in the playoffs. Tired of hearing their name? As long as these two are at the helm of the Patriots organization, you can almost book your tickets into the postseason.
I see three advantages here in favor of New England: the Patriots are a perfect 8-0 at home; the Pats are coming off a bye week; and the weather report for Boston is opposite of that California sunshine.
However, on the other side, 37-year-old Philip Rivers leads the “Charge” that is a well-rounded team. Lead by the run game of Melvin Gordon and complimented by a strong defense (rookie safety Derwin James is having quite the year).
Line: NE -4.0
Philadelphia vs. New Orleans
Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) vs. New Orleans Saints (13-3)
Kickoff 1:40 PM (PT) at Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Somehow, someway, Philadelphia QB Nick Foles is getting the job done. The reigning Super Bowl MVP is once again proving himself and putting an emphasis to teams around the league the value of a backup quarterback. Here we are, history repeating itself, with Foles carrying the Eagles through the playoffs, or at least round one so far.
After defeating the Chicago Bears last week on a controversial “was it tipper” or “was it missed” game-winning field goal from Chicago kicker Cody Parkey, the Eagles are on the road once again on Sunday at the New Orleans Saints. And if anything is to be said in this matchup, is that Drew Brees is tough to beat at home.
What to watch for: how a banged up Eagle secondary will test against a veteran quarterback in Brees? Who will matchup against 6-3 receiver Michael Thomas? And can the Philadelphia run defense, that ranks seventh in the league giving up 96.9 yards per game, show up in a big way against Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram?
On the flip side, can the Saints defense slow down Nick Foles who has proven time and time again that he has cracked the code for winning playoff games.
Line: NO -8.0