Is it the Super Bowl yet? Welp. But the Super Bowl is now in sight for the eight teams remaining. Atlanta, Jacksonville, Minnesota New England, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Tennessee all still have a chance of going to Super Bowl LII. But with the big game just over three weeks away, there is still work to do. So enough talk. Let's predict football!
My overall record last week: 2-2
Lock of the Week record: 14-3
note: Lock of the Week is over until the 2018 regular season
My overall regular season record: 174-82
My overall postseason record: 2-2
Falcons @ Eagles
The Eagles do have home field advantage throughout the playoffs for a reason. That would be Carson Wentz. He’s been out since Week 14. Since he’s left, Nick Foles has significantly underperformed the expectations everybody had when they thought about his 2013 season where he threw 27 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. He’s playing a team getting hot at the right time in the Atlanta Falcons. We are seeing a Broncos-like transformation, the way the team is molding its identity from one side of the ball to the other. The Falcons were the best scoring offense last year, and averaged over 30 points per game in the postseason alone last year, and this year, they shut down the 2017 highest scoring offense, the LA Rams. The Falcons very impressively shut them down, and did just enough on offense with some nice throws by Matt Ryan and a big game from Julio Jones to win the football game. Only one team is advancing here, and I think it’s pretty clear.
Prediction: ATL 23, PHI 10
Titans @ Patriots
Gosh, what a horrible playoff game. If the Chiefs did not blow a huge lead against Tennessee, then this game is so much more intriguing. Go back to the season opener, a simpler time when the Patriots were supposed to be great. Historically great. Some including myself didn’t see them losing a game this year. Well, that narrative was squashed by an amazing performance by the Chiefs, including over 240 scrimmage yards for rookie Kareem Hunt. Now, I’m not sure lightning strikes twice, but they could have battled the Patriots to the end. Now, the Patriots have the privilege of facing a mediocre Titans defense and an uninspiring offense led by Marcus Mariota. Getting to this point is honestly great for the Titans, but by now you have to say they are just happy for the opportunity. There are teams who are capable of knocking off the champs in their own backyard, but the Titans are not one of them.
Prediction: TEN 13, NE 34
Jaguars @ Steelers
Another rematch back early in the season. The Jags proved to the league that they were for real with a 30-9 obliteration of the Steelers, intercepting star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as many times as there are fingers on your hand. Five. In fact, Roethlisberger was so bad that he was even thinking about if he was any good anymore. Well, he is. And do any of us think that the Jaguars, when everything is on the line, and there is elimination at stake, can knock off a team like the Steelers, who are meant for games like this? The Steelers have the experience, the pedigree, and most importantly, the talent on offense to get it done against a vaunted defense that will have to play in low temperatures this weekend. If we are not set for a Steelers-Patriots rematch next Sunday, we’d all be very disappointed.
Prediction: JAX 9, PIT 30
Saints @ Vikings
Remember when this was the Adrian Peterson revenge game? Neither do I. But I do remember the Saints holding on for dear life against the Panthers last week. For as good as they’ve been all season, the Saints surrendered over 350 yards to Cam Newton’s Panthers, who’ve been inconsistent all season long. There is tape for Minnesota to use to expose the Saints, because on offense, the Saints could not run the ball. Kamara and Ingram could only combine for about 50 yards total in the game. If they don’t get going, they won’t win football games. Drew Brees may be a great quarterback, but the Saints’ identity this season will hurt games in which they do have to come from behind in the playoffs. I don’t see them ever leading in this game. Minnesota will jump to an early lead with the help of Case Keenum, and they won’t ever look back. So after this game, the Vikings will be one game away from their first Super Bowl since 1977.