Category Archives: Playoffs

Super Bowl LIV Prediction

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This could be the beginning of something special for Kansas City on Super Sunday unless San Francisco has something to say about it.

 

By: Elias McMillan

Conference Championships: 1-1

Playoffs: 5-5

Super Bowl LIV from Miami, Florida

San Francisco 49ers vs. Kansas City Chiefs

I’ve gone back and forth on this one in terms of who I think is going to win vs. who is actually going to win. Really, I just don’t want the snooze fest that was last year’s Super Bowl. And I don’t think we will get that. Super Bowl LIV will feature an old time theme in football: a really good offense vs. a really good defense. The question here is if that explosive offense will be too much for even a good-to-great defense to handle. For the Chiefs, QB Patrick Mahomes has drawn rave reviews and all is there left for him to do is to deliver Kansas City its first championship in over 40 years. Mahomes has the weapons to get it done in the passing game. The Chiefs offer multiple speedsters at the WR position and TE Travis Kelce can also provide big plays. In their way is a talented 49ers defense led by a young and active defensive line. Probable Defensive Rookie of the Year, Nick Bosa, leads this unit that includes former Chief Dee Ford and two 6”7 defensive tackles that wreck havoc in the middle. San Fran’s defense also gets outstanding play at LB with Fred Warner and Kwon Alexander and in the secondary with CB Richard Sherman. Kansas City doesn’t have a bad defense either. They shut down the league’s leading rusher two weeks ago and safety Tyrann Mathieu is currently playing his best ball of his career. The matchup between the Chiefs offense and the 49ers defense will take center stage on Sunday but another big question will be how QB Jimmy Garoppolo will affect the game. San Francisco ran the ball well two weeks ago with Raheem Mostert carrying the load but I think they will not be able to depend on him against the Chiefs front four. So, when called upon, can Garoppolo provide big plays down the field? Many are not expecting much from the 49ers passing game but I think that might serve as an advantage. WR Emmanuel Sanders and rookie Deebo Samuel should not be slept on by the Chiefs secondary. For entertainment purposes, I think that many including myself will be looking for the Chiefs to use that explosive offense, light up the scoreboard, and keep San Francisco from striking distance. Kansas City is the favorite in this game for a reason but some of it maybe sentimental. The Chiefs have the aging coach (Andy Reid), aging veterans on their last championship run (Terrell Suggs and Shady McCoy), and the new superstar who is ready to take over the league (Mahomes). I think it is possible that the Chiefs will be able to get up big in this game and not look back but something tells me that we’ll see something different. Maybe the 49ers defense will be able to win the battles up front and make it really tough on Mahomes. Maybe the 49ers will be able to keep Mahomes on the bench and control the clock with Mostert and a now healthy RB Tevin Coleman. I feel better saying that the Chiefs will win on Sunday but I have a strange feeling. It wouldn’t be the first time a star QB’s first championship appearance ended on a sour note. Prediction: 49ers 34 – Chiefs 31

NFL Playoffs: Conference Championship Sunday Predictions

49ERS VS. VIKINGS NFC DIV PLAYOFF GAME

The table is set for the 49ers defense to lead San Francisco to the Super Bowl.

 

By: Elias McMillan

Divisional Round: 2-2

Playoffs: 4-4

Conference Championship Sunday

AFC Championship Game

Tennessee @ Kansas City – The Titans are taking all challengers this post season. RB Derrick Henry is leading the way on the ground, punishing defenses. And QB Ryan Tannehill is making big plays when called upon. On defense, Tennessee’s secondary has also been impressive. That unit will be tested often on Sunday with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Kansas City was down early, big last week at home but that explosive offense was able to pull them out of the fire real quick. Houston didn’t do any favors for themselves either, as they made some mistakes down the stretch. I don’t think the Chiefs will be able to afford another slow start this Sunday. Tennessee has done a great job with ball control and staying away from game altering mistakes. I think Tennessee’s run game will do its job and keep KC’s offense on the bench, which could take the home crowd out of the game. If the Chiefs are able to bottle up Henry, Tennessee’s defense will be in serious trouble. They’ve done a good job so far in the playoffs but Kansas City is able to challenge them vertically unlike any other they have faced. I think the extra attention on the Titans backfield could open things for Tannehill and his young receivers. The Titans brand of football isn’t as fun and exciting as what Kansas City or what Baltimore was offering but it is working. It would just stink if it just came to a complete halt on Sunday. I’m rooting for the upset. Not sure it will happen but its what I’m wishing for. Another conference championship heartbreak for Andy Reid. Prediction: Titans over Chiefs

NFC Championship Game

Green Bay @ San Francisco – This 49ers team has been built for moments like this. San Fran is physical, they can run the ball and they have one of the league’s top defenses. That formula usually works in January. Green Bay will be the road underdogs in this NFC Championship game and it is easy to see why. I don’t think Green Bay’s offense is dynamic enough to get through the 49ers defense for 4 quarters. QB Aaron Rodgers played great against Seattle last week, finding WR Davante Adams for multiple big gains. I think that 49ers defensive front four will be able to limit the Rodgers-Adams connection. San Fran also defended the run pretty well last week, too. We might see quite a few screen plays from the Packers offense on Sunday to counter the 49ers’ aggressiveness. For the 49ers on offense, they just have to continue to keep things simple and stick to what works. QB Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t have a great game statistically but he stayed away from mistakes for the most parts. The big thing for him is that when he does screw up, he knows he has a great running game that he can lean on. I think the result of this game will be the least shocking one of the weekend. Prediction:  49ers over Packers

NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round Predictions

Wild Card Round - Buffalo Bills v Houston Texans

The Texans won in Kansas City earlier this season. Can they do it again in the playoffs?

 

By: Elias McMillan

Wild-Card: 2-2

Playoffs: 2-2

Divisional Round

Minnesota @ San Francisco – I was really impressed with the Vikings’ defensive line in their upset victory over New Orleans last weekend. In fact, this divisional round game between the Vikings and 49ers will be heavily influenced by the play at the line of scrimmage. San Francisco has bolstered a pretty dominant unit up front all season and they’ll have a chance to really exert their power in this game. QB Kirk Cousins avoided mistakes last weeks and made some pretty big throws. He will be under pressure again this week but I think past experiences will help him. I think Minnesota’s experiences in the post season will help them on Saturday. Many players on San Francisco will be making their playoff debuts. Everyone usually puts a spotlight on Cousins but I think Jimmy Garoppolo is the QB under the most pressure this weekend. Minnesota’s defense has been inconsistent but if they play like they did in New Orleans, the Vikings will be in this one. RB Dalvin Cook could see plenty of opportunities in this game, which will help Cousins against a top ranked pass defense. The 49ers have taken on all challengers this season but recently, they’ve been able to escape in some close games by the skin of their teeth. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said something this week about the last time they defeated New Orleans in the playoffs and came back the next week and laid a total egg in Philadelphia. That message will be hammered into his team this week and I think it will pay off as they will score the upset and advance to the NFC Championship Game. Prediction: Vikings over 49ers

Tennessee @ Baltimore – Tennessee didn’t have to do much to end the Patriots reign last week. But getting the job done in Foxboro shouldn’t be scoffed at. The Titans have a good thing going right now with the way they can control the clock with RB Derrick Henry which in return sets up the league’s highest rated passer, Ryan Tannehill. That formula will have to work overtime this week, as the Titans will face the league’s top offense in the Baltimore Ravens. League MVP Lamar Jackson should be fresh coming off the bye and his offense will be able to attack the Titans defense in a way that New England couldn’t do last week.  This game will be all about which offense can control the clock as both teams feature highly successful running games. I think the difference will be which offense can produce more big plays down the field. The Titans cannot sleep on what Lamar Jackson’s arm can do. Also, you have to consider that Jackson has a talent group of skill players on offense to go to. I have a feeling that Tennessee might be able to keep this one close to start but eventually Jackson and Ravens will overwhelm them. Prediction: Ravens over Titans

Houston @ Kansas City – The Texans pulled off a great comeback in the Wild Card round against Buffalo. I don’t think they can afford another slow start this weekend, as they’ll visit the Chiefs in Kansas City. Houston showed against Buffalo that when pressed, their biggest stars can make game altering plays. On offense, QB Deshaun Watson proved his worth during crunch time and on defense, it was J.J. Watt who provided the spark. The Chiefs are a team that can apply pressure for all 4 quarters, offensively and defensively. QB Patrick Mahomes and his fast break offense should be able to stretch the field against the Texans defense. Kansas City isn’t a great defensive team but they do have an active front four along with a tough secondary. The Chiefs have had problems with injuries this season and it is something that they will have to continue to avoid during this post season run. If the offensive weapons are rested and healthy, Houston is going to have a tough time keeping them off the scoreboard. Houston defeated KC earlier this season and I’m sure the home team hasn’t forgotten about that. Unlike that game in Week 6, the Chiefs will need to get off on a fast start and keep the Texans offense on the bench. Prediction: Chiefs over Texans

Seattle @ Green Bay – This game will be pretty to look at. A cold and snowy Lambeau Field will set the scene for two teams that are usually mainstays in the NFC playoffs. Seattle was able to get by a wounded Eagles team last week and they didn’t earn any style points with that victory. With better QB play, Philadelphia might have been able to pull that one out. Seattle is currently having issues with scoring touchdowns, which may have to do with their injury situation. It’s cool that RB Marshawn Lynch is back but even he admits that he is not in game shape. QB Russell Wilson will have to do the heavy lifting for this Seahawks offense but how is that different from any other season? Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is used to putting the team on his back as well but this season, his supporting cast isn’t that bad. In this cold weather game, I’m expecting big things out of RB’s Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. I think the Packers running game will have a huge affect on the outcome in this one and it will allow Aaron Rodgers to control the clock and take some big shots down the field. Seattle’s defense is talented but they really got off easy last week. If their front four can’t get in the face of Rodgers, it could be a long, cold night for that unit. I’ve been mostly unimpressed with the Packers this season but I think they matchup well against Seattle. Russell Wilson has never won in Green Bay and on Sunday, the Packers will set the scene for a NFC North Championship game for the conference title and a Super Bowl berth. Prediction: Packers over Seahawks

 

 

NFL Wild-Card Weekend Predictions

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Minnesota heads to the NOLA this weekend to face the NFC South champs.

 

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 10-6

2019 Regular Season Record: 157-98-1

NFL Playoffs: Wild-Card Weekend

Buffalo @ Houston – The Texans in the opening game of the NFL playoffs is starting to become a tradition for some reason. Why can’t the NFL give QB Deshaun Watson some limelight in primetime? He is definitely deserving of it. Watson and the Texans will face a stiff test Saturday in the form of Buffalo’s defense. The Bills rank third defensively in the league and are especially good at defending the pass. A matchup to watch in this game will be between WR DeAndre Hopkins and Buffalo’s all-pro corner, Tre’davious White. On offense, Buffalo lacks the explosiveness that Houston has but the Texans aren’t a strong defensive team this year. Houston might get a boost from the return of their leader DE J.J. Watt. The battle within the trenches will loom large in this game. Buffalo usually runs the ball well, which could set up QB Josh Allen to attack down the field. This will be determined by which Houston team shows up. Buffalo will have a shot if they are able to limit Watson and the passing game. If not, I don’t see Buffalo being able to out produce the Texans offense. Prediction: Texans over Bills

Tennessee @ New England – The Titans have been a fun story to watch this year. It looks like they’ve finally found their answer at QB in Ryan Tannehill. RB Derrick Henry won the rushing title. And WR A.J. Brown has made some big plays in just his rookie season. Enter the AFC East champs, New England, who like the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, just refuse to die. The Patriots blew a huge opportunity last week losing to Miami and missing out on a first round bye. Now, because of that lost, many are doubting the team’s edge as they’ll face a young and up-and-coming Tennessee squad. I feel like we could say this every year recently but this is the time where New England reminds everyone of who they are. Yes, Tom Brady’s best days are behind him but it is around this time of year where we usually see the best out of him. Tennessee’s defense isn’t all that great and I think the Patriots offense will find plenty of opportunities. Tannehill was one of the highest rated passers in the league this season but he’ll face one of the league’s top pass defenses on Saturday. New England is also tough against the run. It is going to be strength vs. strength seeing Henry going against this defense. Tennessee will have a chance in New England if they bother Brady and force him to play outside of himself. I have more faith into Belichick and the Pats defense giving Tannehill his toughest game of the season. Prediction: Patriots over Titans

Minnesota @ New Orleans – The Saints have had some of the worst luck in the postseason in recent memory. With the clock ticking down on QB Drew Brees’ career, the pressure to leave this post season as champions couldn’t be higher for New Orleans. The Saints are clearly equipped for a Super Bowl run but they’ll have to take care of Minnesota on Sunday first. Minnesota is probably the most unimpressive team in the post season this year. QB Kirk Cousins has played well at times but he usually falters when the lights are the brightest. RB Dalvin Cook has been a bright spot for the Vikings and he should be fresh as he was being held out during the last few weeks of the season due to injury. With time, Cousins should be able to attack the Saints secondary with Stephon Diggs and Adam Thielen. The challenge for Minnesota will be at the line of scrimmage where the Saints offer one of the league’s top run defenses. On the flip side, Minnesota’s defense was once considered one of the best in football but has struggled this season. They will have their hands full with Brees and the NFL’s top receiver, WR Michael Thomas. I think we can guarantee that the Saints will be able to score into the thirties on Sunday. The question will be if Minnesota can get key stops or if Kirk Cousins can go toe-to-toe with Brees without turning over the ball. Prediction: Saints over Vikings

Seattle @ Philadelphia – I guess it is impressive that Philadelphia made the playoffs this year despite all of their injury problems. But Philadelphia also has a problem with overall talent. QB Carson Wentz has been reduced to a guy who can only check down to running backs, throw to tight ends, and receive answered prayers when outside the pocket. It doesn’t help that his receiving core has been reduced to nothing as well as the season went along. Philadelphia has been able to lean on their defense recently. With multiple backups in the secondary, Philly’s front seven has picked up the slack. Seattle isn’t the healthiest team going into the playoffs also. They had to call back RB Marshawn Lynch from retirement as starter Chris Carson went down. The Seahawks offensive and defensive lines are also a bit banged up going into Sunday. Despite that, I expect overall talent to dictate this game. QB Russell Wilson should be able to command his offense against a shorthanded Eagles secondary. What makes me nervous for Seattle in this game is that their defense has been mainly unimpressive this season, ranking near the bottom against the run and the pass. The Eagles, despite lack of talent, have been unpredictable at times this year. Playing at home will definitely help their cause on Sunday. I think Seattle will win but this just feels like a game that Philadelphia will be in until the very end. Prediction: Seahawks over Eagles

NFL 2019: Week 2 Predictions

Houston Texans v New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees and the Saints will be looking for revenge this Sunday in LA.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 10-5-1

Season: 10-5-1

Top Five Games of the Week

Minnesota @ Green Bay– Green Bay’s defense had a surprising, dominating performance Week 1 in Chicago. Either that or Chicago was having major issues on offense. I think it was a little bit of both. Minnesota’s defense was equally impressive at home, nearly shutting out an Atlanta team with a usually explosive offense. I think both defenses will bring it on Sunday in this key, early season, divisional matchup. I think the difference in this contest will be the Vikings offense. RB Dalvin Cook had a productive season opener and the Packer secondary will face a stiffer challenge in Kirk Cousins and the Vikings passing game. Prediction: Vikings over Packers

Seattle @ Pittsburgh – After an offseason of headlines and controversy, I thought Pittsburgh would come out last week playing with their hair on fire. Instead, it was New England who lit them up to the tune of a 30-point victory. But fearless leader and father of 52 grown men, Ben Roethlisberger, alerted the masses this week saying that there is no need to panic. And he’s right. 0-1 is just that. But judging from what I saw last week, this Steelers team better start turning it around soon. The home opener against Seattle could be a good start but it will be a challenge. Seattle struggled at home last week against Cincinnati but they were bailed out once again by the usually suspects, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks defense. If Roethlisberger can’t find success against this stingy Seattle defense, Pittsburgh could be in trouble. Mainly because the Steelers defense looked like they couldn’t stop anyone last week. I’m not expecting Wilson to attack the defense like Brady did in Week 1 but he might if he feels that he can find success. I could see Seattle jumping out in front in this one before Pittsburgh mounts a second half comeback. But then, it will be Wilson who will put his team in position to close this one out on the road. Prediction: Seahawks over Steelers

Dallas @ Washington– The Cowboys were as impressive as any team in the NFC last week. I was sort of surprised because though the Giants aren’t very good, they always seem to give Dallas a game usually. Washington looked great early in Philadelphia before completely falling apart. Despite their collapse, Washington should feel good about their passing game as Case Keenum threw for 400+ yards. For Washington to get the win over the rival Cowboys on Sunday, they must be able to attack on offense for 60 minutes. Dallas has struggled against the run recently and that issue has seemed to follow them into this season. Barkley had some huge gains last week and veteran RB Adrian Peterson will be looking forward to similar success. What helped the Dallas defense last week was how the offense was able to control game. Dak Prescott looked really comfortable going down the field last week as he posted a perfect passing rating. I think he could see similar success against Washington but only if his offensive line can protect him. RB Ezekiel Elliott isn’t back to his old self just yet but that will change as the season goes along. Dallas’ balanced attack will be key this Sunday in terms of controlling the clock and keeping the defense fresh. This one will probably be tougher than last week but starting 2019 2-0 in the division would be huge for Dallas. On the other hand, Washington does not want to start this season 0-2 in the division. Prediction: Cowboys over Washington

New Orleans @ Los Angeles Rams – No doubt that the Saints have had this date circled when the schedule came out. On Sunday, the Saints will be looking for a huge road victory against the team they should have beaten in last year’s NFC Championship. New Orleans showed real mettle last week at home, winning on a late field against Houston. The look just as good as they did last season and maybe even better. The offense can still put up big numbers and that defense seems to get by with that “bend but don’t break” mentality. The Rams won a physical battle in Carolina Week 1. I think their defense will face a greater challenge this week. The Rams struggled against the run in Carolina and I think RB Alvin Kamara will be used effectively in this matchup.  New Orleans will be looking to beat LA on the field on Sunday and leave the officials out of it. Prediction: Saints over Rams

Philadelphia @ Atlanta – The Eagles started last week on shaky ground, allowing Washington to get the jump on them. They eventually recovered but their pass defense still left the game looking pretty weak. It seems like the Eagles have this issue every season. At least, recently. On paper, I think Philly’s issues in the secondary should serve as an advantage for Atlanta in their home opener. The Falcons offense was embarrassingly bad in Minnesota and they should be looking to prove that they are better than what they showed. But then, I remembered this same matchup a season ago where Atlanta still struggled against this Eagles defense. I think we’ll see the same story on Sunday. Prediction: Eagles over Falcons

The Rest of Week 2

Panthers over Buccaneers – It seems like Bruce Arians has a long way to go with fixing this Tampa offense.

Bengals over 49ers – This is a toss up. I think Cincy can still be a surprise team this year.

Chargers over Lions – The way Detroit folded last week in Arizona was embarrassing.

Colts over Titans – For whatever reason, Indy has been able to own Tennessee in this divisional rivalry recently.

Patriots over Dolphins – This one will get ugly real quick. Antonio Brown might make this game watchable.

Bills over Giants – Don’t look now but maybe Buffalo can be the team to challenge for second place in the AFC East this year.

Ravens over Cardinals – I’m here for the Lamar Jackson show to takeover the league. Here for it.

Texans over Jaguars – Watson and the Texans played good enough to win last week. They’ll close out a banged up Jacksonville team at home.

Chiefs over Raiders – Kansas City is banged up but I’m not buying into Oakland.

Bears over Broncos – Denver looked better than Chicago last week. But it’s going to be tough for the Broncos to protect their statue (ala Drew Bledsoe) of a QB, Joe Flacco.

Browns over Jets – Cleveland took their lumps last week but since then, the Jets have completely imploded with multiple major injuries.

NFL Playoffs: Conference Championship Predictions

Divisional Round - Los Angeles Chargers v New England Patriots

Dread it. Run from it. Destiny still arrives.

 

By: Elias McMillan

Divisional Round: 2-2

Playoffs: 4-4

Conference Championship Sunday

NFC Championship Game

Los Angeles Rams @ New Orleans – I’m sure the Saints can play better than they did last week. New Orleans didn’t look impressive coming back from 14-0 at home against the Eagles but it’s still better than not surviving. Los Angeles on the other hand, looked really impressive at home against Dallas. They physically beat up the Cowboys at the line scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The Rams really unleashed their rushing attack last week and I think this is a theme they will aim to repeat this Sunday in New Orleans. And the Saints may be vulnerable against the run Sunday without DT Sheldon Rankins who suffered an injury last week. The Saints secondary played well for the most part against Philadelphia and I don’t know the Rams being able to attack them through the air as they’ve done a lot to other teams this season. I think the Rams will be looking to run to set up Jared Goff to pass. RB’s Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram might have a tough time with LA’s front four, especially Aaron Donald who will probably be the best player on the field. I don’t think much of LA’s secondary and I could see them having trouble containing WR Michael Thomas. The Saints were my pre-season pick to make it out of the NFC so; I’m going to stick with them. Prediction: Saints 36 – Rams 30

AFC Championship Game

New England @ Kansas City – The Kansas City Chiefs are a better football team right now than the New England Patriots. Their offense is younger and more explosive. Their defense isn’t great but neither is New England’s. The Chiefs even have the edge on special teams with what Tyreek Hill brings to the return game. Despite all of those things, you should know who I’m picking to win this game on Sunday. It’s the playoffs. It’s the AFC Championship Game. And it’s the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, again. Once again, everyone was ready to proclaim the Patriots to be over and dead but here they are again, on the footstep to another Super Bowl. I also think the freezing temperatures will serve in New England’s favor. The Patriots have an impressive stable of running backs healthy right now and they’ll have a big role on Sunday if conditions don’t allow Brady to throw it around. I’m sure the Chiefs will be able to function in the cold but no one has done it better around this time of year than Belichick’s boys. Dread it. Run from it. Destiny still arrives. Prediction: Patriots 28 – Chiefs 21

 

NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round Predictions


Wild Card Round - Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts

Can Andrew Luck and Colts upset the AFC’s top seed on the road Saturday?

 

By: Elias McMillan

Wild Card: 2-2

Playoffs 2-2

Divisional Round

Indianapolis @ Kansas City – Last weekend’s win in Houston went kind of like I expect it would for Indy. The Colts looked impressive on both sides of the ball. The defense limited Houston to just 7 points. Andrew Luck looked like himself passing the ball around and the Colts even ran the ball well. The Colts have the momentum going into a showdown with the AFC’s #1 seed. Kansas City jumped to the top the AFC this season behind the production of MVP candidate, QB Patrick Mahomes. Even with the suspension of RB Kareem Hunt, the Chiefs offense hasn’t missed a beat all season. On Saturday, the Colts will have to account for the speed of WR Tyreek Hill and the physicality of TE Travis Kelce. I think Kansas City will find success offensively in this matchup. The question for the Chiefs all season has been about their defense. The Chiefs can score a lot but they can also give up a lot as well. The team with the ball last may end up winning this one. There’s a narrative out there about Andy Reid’s teams in the post-season always coming up short. I bet this Chiefs team wants to be the group that bunks that trend. I also think the home field advantage will play a part in this one. Prediction: Chiefs 38 – Colts 33

Dallas @ Los Angeles Rams – Dallas’ victory last week at home against Seattle wasn’t as impressive as they wanted it to be but they got the job done. Now, they will be looking to enter uncharted territory when they travel to LA to face the Rams. Dallas hasn’t advanced to the conference championship round in 20 plus years and they haven’t won a playoff game on the road in about the same time frame. But this is a Dallas team that believes they have it in them. In their case, I believe they have the best defense left in the NFC. The Cowboys did a great job limiting Seattle’s run game last week. I am a bit worried about the secondary, as Seattle really didn’t press the issue until the game was out of the reach. This probably won’t be the case on Saturday night. Even with Todd Gurley returning from injury, the Rams know that they big play offense has been depended on what Jared Goff can do in the passing game. The Rams offense lit up scoreboards for most of this season but they have cooled off significantly heading into the post-season. Maybe losing WR Cooper Kupp to injury has something to do with that. I don’t really believe the Rams have a game breaker at the WR position. Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks are nice players but they don’t demand the entire defense’s attention. If they can’t get Goff going, I think their best bet is to force feed Gurley who is bound to make a big play as a runner or receiver. The Rams have well known players on their defense but as a unit, they just haven’t been that good. DT Aaron Donald is beast and is capable of possibly winning this game himself. Despite having him up front, the Rams are pretty average against the run. Dallas will continue to run the offense through Ezekiel Elliott and he will eventually put the Cowboys in scoring positions. CB’s Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib have a history of making big plays but they are also risk takers. If QB Dak Prescott can stay away from Donald, he’ll be able to find his receivers downfield for some big plays off a double move or play action. The moment I feel that the Cowboys may do something worth talking about is the same moment when they usually disappoint me. Knowing this, I’m still going with my gut on this one. The Rams are not the offensive machine they were earlier this season and usually, a good defense can beat a good offense in January. This will be close but I’m taking the road team in the upset as the Cowboys fans will probably take over the stadium as well. Prediction: Cowboys 27 – Rams 24

Los Angeles Chargers @ New England – Despite Baltimore’s late push last week, the Chargers were fairly in control in that game. Now, they’ll make another long trip back to the east coast to face playoff staple, New England. This isn’t the same Patriots team that we are accustomed to seeing in January. The Patriots were able to win their division and gain a first round bye in the post season but this is probably their weakest playoff team during the Bill Belicheck era. Tom Brady is still a very good QB at his age but the Patriots have had receiver issues all season. Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan have both been banged up and they don’t have much waiting in the wings. The big play guy in the passing game has been TE Rob Gronkowski but even he doesn’t look like his normal self. The Patriots do have a plenty of options at RB but they are a team that just can’t depend on the run. The Chargers proved last week that they can handle a run first offense and it will also help that they have the pass rushers to get after Brady. New England has been known for years recently to have a less than impressive defense. I think this will allow QB Phillip Rivers to really push the issue in the passing game. Rivers has never beaten Brady in the post-season but I think this is his best shot. The Chargers are capable to out-physical New England on both sides of the ball. I like the Chargers in an upset that really shouldn’t be an upset. Prediction: Chargers 29 – Patriots 20

Philadelphia @ New Orleans – As much as I hate to admit, the Eagles actually matchup well with the Saints. I know this is the same team that was blown out by them on the road but a lot has changed since then. The Eagles don’t have a run game so they are forced to unleash the full capability of QB Nick Foles. The play of Foles during this last month are becoming the stuff of legend as he looks to help the Eagles make a return trip to the Super Bowl. I think the play of the Saints secondary plays in favor to the Eagles as that unit isn’t a strength for the home team. Philadelphia has also received great play out of their offensive line.  Knowing that they are a pass-first offense, they are going to need another great performance from that unit as New Orleans has an impressive front four on defense. But I think this game will have to turn on QB Drew Brees exposing the Eagles defense. This was something that the Bears failed to do last week. The Eagles will have to account for RB’s Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram but they should be okay with what they have in their front seven defensively. Philly’s weakness in the secondary and Brees must be able to exploit that. I think the Eagles will be able to do damage and score points in this one but I think Brees will be the one to set the tone causing Philly to play catch up for most of the game. Prediction: Saints 41 – Eagles 31