Dec 4, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) breaks a tackle by Atlanta Falcons strong safety Keanu Neal (22) during the first half at the Georgia Dome. The Chiefs won 29-28. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Which teams will leave victorious in the Divisional Round of the 2017 NFL Playoffs? Here are final breakdowns and predictions on what to expect.
It’s the second week of the 2017 NFL Playoffs, and the Divisional Round is going to be intense; maybe not the Houston Texans game but you get the gist of it. Last week’s Wild Card games were pretty predictable.
The Miami Dolphins were eliminated after a blowout against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Lions went down in a brutal fight against the Seattle Seahawks. Odell Beckham Jr. buckled under pressure in his first playoff game, and the Green Bay Packers triumphed over the New York Giants. And then there was the heartbreaking Oakland Raiders versus Houston Texans matchup; Oakland didn’t stand a chance without Derek Carr.
However, this week’s outings are pretty head-to-head in competitions; except the Texans versus New England Patriots game. Ironically, this is also the week these teams come face-to-face for a rematch; the teams have already played their opponent this season.
Here you will find an analysis of the matchups, player updates and final predictions for this week’s divisional round games.
Next: 4. Seattle Seahawks vs. Atlanta Falcons
Dec 4, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) breaks away from Carolina Panthers defensive end Ryan Delaire (91) during the first quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
4. Seattle Seahawks vs. Atlanta Falcons
Playoff Games – 19 Games (7-12) Divisional Round Playoffs- 8 Games (3-5)
Playoff Games – 30 Games (16-14) Divisional Round Playoffs – 11 Games (4-7)
This is the moment Atlanta Falcon and Seattle Seahawk fans have waited for since their Week 6 matchup. The Falcons will possibly get redemption after that controversial outing.
If you don’t remember, everyone, except the Seahawks, was outraged after the referee didn’t throw a flag on Richard Sherman after he manhandled Julio Jones. Some would argue that flag could have won the Falcons the game. As these two teams prepare to play the most important game of their season, there are several factors that need to be considered. Firstly, the Falcons have home field advantage.
The Seahawks defense is missing a key element to their lineup; Earl Thomas. Unfortunately, losing Thomas has negatively influenced the defense. Over the last month, the Seahawks defense surrendered about 24.5 points per game to opponents. Prior to that, they were only offering about 18 points per game.
On the other hand, the Falcons are missing corner Desmond Trufant, which gives Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham an advantage. And then there’s Thomas Rawls, who had his best season performance last week.
Let’s also remember the 2012 NFL Playoffs. The Falcons beat Pete Carroll and Wilson in the race to the Super Bowl.
NFL Playoffs 2017 Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 24-17
Next: 3. Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots
Dec 18, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) during the second quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
3. Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots
New England Patriots
Playoff Games – 48 (29-19) Divisional Round Playoffs – 19 Games (13-6)
Playoff Games – 6 games (3-3) Divisional Round Playoffs – 2 Games (0-2)
Is this even a serious matchup? I wish I could sit here and tell you the Houston Texans are coming back for vengeance, but it’s not likely! In the beginning of the season, the New England Patriots destroyed the Texans 27-0. Keep in mind, that was while Tom Brady was still suspended for the deflate gate.
Yes, the Texans overcame the Oakland Raiders but, let’s be honest. They beat a backup quarterback; they should have been able to beat them. But, if we compare the two defenses, the Patriots come out a bit stronger due mostly to Bill Belichick’s strategy. The Patriots will defend the run, but will the Texans?
While the Texans defensive line is chasing Brady and his quick short passes, Belichick throws in LeGarrette Blount to get the job done. And, if that doesn’t work, he has several other running backs to throw into the loop just to confuse the Texans, making it difficult to know what’s coming next.
Obviously, Brady is a better quarterback than Brock Osweiler but, Osweiler doesn’t fully use his key players; such as DeAndre Hopkins. He needs to stay calm and not be afraid to chuck the football downfield.
If the Texans have any hope, they’re going to need to rely heavily on their defense to get the job done. Surprise, surprise, it’s looking like another Patriots Super Bowl.
NFL Playoffs 2017 Prediction: New England Patriots 30-10
Next: 2. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
2. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs
Playoff Games – 25 Games (9-16) Divisional Round Playoffs – 9 Games (2-7)
Playoff Games – 58 Games (35-23) Divisional Round Playoffs – 24 Games (15-9)
Who can forget the Week 4 matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers? The Steelers demolished the Chiefs 43-14; how embarrassing for a team who won their division.
However, the Chiefs have played well later in the season; top pass rush defender Justin Houston returned. But then, he missed the last two games and panic set in. But, have no fear Houston is expected to play in this week’s playoff game. Running back Spencer Ware is also predicted to be healthy and well for this week’s game.
Not only is Houston going to play an integral role as he faces an elite Ben Roethlisberger but, the Chiefs offense will have a healthy Ware. As for the Steelers, Roethlisberger was injured in last week’s Miami Dolphins win. The ankle injury came late in the game, so he was fortunate enough to finish, he was wearing a walking boot after the game. Roethlisberger should be good to go, however.
When comparing the teams overall, the Steelers have won their last nine games; that’s including last week’s Wild Card showdown. As for the Chiefs, since Week 4, they have only lost twice. Opposing teams had the third lowest pass ratings when they came face-to-face with the Chiefs. How could they not with Eric Berry and Marcus Peters heading their secondary?
Berry and Peters will be tested as they prepare to take on Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. In Week 4, Bell carried the ball 23 times for over 175 yards. Keep in mind the Chiefs are also without inside linebacker Derrick Johnson, who is a huge part of their run defense.
This will be a game to remember. Both defenses matchup fairly. As for the offense, it will be a fight to the finish line. Will Big Ben come out on top with Bell by his side? Or, will Alex Smith keep up with the Steelers and take the win in Arrowhead?
NFL Playoffs 2017 Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 24-21
Next: 1. Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys
Jan 1, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) drops back to pass during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
1. Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys
Green Bay Packers
Playoff Games – 54 Games (33-21) Divisional Round Playoffs – 18 Games (8-10)
Playoff Games – 60 Games (34-26) Divisional Round Playoffs – 25 Games (15-10)
The Green Bay Packers going up against the Dallas Cowboys is probably one of most anticipated games of the week. The Cowboys only lost twice this season; both times to division rivals the New York Giants. The Giants lost to the Packers last week. And, after the infamous Aaron Rodgers’ Hail Mary passes, I think we can all agree this will be a great game.
Let’s jump right in. Jordy Nelson is officially out. He exited last week’s game after breaking two ribs. But, that didn’t stop the Packers last week; Rodgers finished with over 360 yards and four touchdowns. The Packers have several valuable players that offer enough versatility that it didn’t matter Nelson left; Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Jared Cook and Ty Montgomery.
The Cowboys star players Prescott and Elliott are making their first playoff appearance. Although the two don’t seem to buckle under pressure, we all saw Beckham Jr. crack when his team needed him the most.
As for the two defenses, the Packers just took out the Giants who have one of the top defenses in the NFL. Prescott also had his first NFL career interception against the Packers.
Although it’s easy to assume the Packers defense doesn’t hold much threat to Elliott and Prescott, it will come down to whether the Cowboys secondary can defend the pass; Rodgers loves to sling footballs. This will also force the Cowboys to reduce their run game.