Winner in Bold
Atlanta at Philadelphia
Philly was, for a while at least, the best team in the league, but then they lost Carson Wentz and their offence fell apart. Now they find themselves the NFC’s top seed, and an underdog at home to a team that qualified on the last day of the regular season. Here, I might be tempted to think that Philly is still a very good team, and that they’ll find a way to win this one. Atlanta is not just any playoff qualifier, though. Though their offence has struggled at times this season, it’s still loaded, and their defence has been outstanding lately. I’d like to say I’m sorry to all the Philadelphia fans, but who am I kidding, it’s Philadelphia; nobody likes them anyway.
Tennessee at New England
Here’s how Tennessee wins this game: luck. Don’t laugh, it happens. The Pats commit a couple of early turnovers, their offensive line gets dinged, who knows. Tennessee’s offence is built to grind and protect leads. They just have to get one. On paper, the way the Pats’ offence is playing, this one’s a blowout. They don’t play the games on paper, though, do they?
Jacksonville at Pittsburgh
I find it funny how so many seem to be glossing over the Jags’ 30-9 shellacking of Pittsburgh back in October as some kind of aberration. Jacksonville still has the brutal pass rush that forced Roethlisberger into making bad throws, and the Jags still have their ball-hawking secondary to collect any lame ducks that Ben wants to put up. The key here, as everyone knows, is Jacksonville’s offence, and especially Blake Bortles. He doesn’t have to do much, just make a few throws, get some first downs, chew up the clock. What he absolutely can’t do is play like he did in the first half against Buffalo last week. If he gives Pittsburgh’s offence 20-plus minutes of possession in the first half, Pittsburgh will make the Jags pay, and the Jags offence is not built to play from behind.
New Orleans at Minnesota
This is probably the surest bet for a good game this weekend. I like this Minnesota team a lot. Their defence is top-tier, their offence is playing great. All the pieces are there. New Orleans is no slouch either, with their two-headed RB monster, Kamaringram, a QB who can still sling it, a solid pass rush, and a talented young secondary. This should be a really good game.