WinView Games Presents…NFL Playoff Predictions
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons
Why the Eagles might win:
No one – besides Eagles fans and some select experts – thinks the Eagles will win this game. Eagles have been underdogs all season even with a winning record. This is where the Eagles shine, and everyone loves a Cinderella story. Also, they are home at the Linc, and if you’ve been there, you’d know rowdy Eagles fans do NOT make it easy for opposing teams. If the Eagles can rattle QB Matt Ryan early with their suffocating pass rush, they stand a good chance of winning this game. Defending the slot is something the Eagles do well which won’t fare well for Mohamed Sanu. Atlanta, by comparison, is not good at protecting the slot. Nelson Algolor has busted out this season and is a receiver who could see a lot of looks in the slot. With that said, to win the Eagles will likely run the ball down the Falcons’ throats.
Why the Falcons might win:
Mohamed Sanu is not who should worry the Eagles. Julio Jones has double-digit targets in six of his last eight games. He leads all receivers in target market share since Week 6. Philadelphia is the league’s most thrown-on defense. Regarding the run game, the Falcons began prepping for Eagles stellar rush Defense in last week’s game. What better way to throw off the Eagles than sending out 2 solid RBs (Tevin Coleman and Devante Freeman) vs. giving 1 a majority share? Tevin Coleman’s 17 touches last week against the Rams were a career high in a game that Devonta Freeman also played in and finished.
The New England Patriots vs. Tennessee Titans
Why the Titans might win:
The Titans are the clear underdogs in the matchup against the Patriots…but the Titans have some tricks up their sleeves. The Titans have already declared RB DeMarco Murray out for the game. Derrick Henry will lead the backfield. This guy is a grinder. He’s a big and powerful back who will wear down the Patriots rush defense. Between 2015-2016, Derrick Henry was top 6 in yards after contact and missed tackles forced per carry. The Patriots are the 2nd worst in yards per carry allowed (4.69). New England has also allowed a lot of passes to slot WRs. If QB Marcus Mariota can get a rhythm going early to compliment Henry’s rush attack, slot receiver Eric Decker could be in line for a good game.
Why the Patriots might win:
Well…for one thing, it’s the Patriots, and there are too many weapons for Tom Brady to spread the ball to count. Besides the forever-evident connection between Brady and Rob Gronkowski, they can run the ball, too! Since week 5, the New England Patriots are 3rd in rushing yards and 3rd in rushing TDs and 3rd. RB Dion Lewis has turned into an every-down back this year and could be the x-factor.
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Pittsburgh Steelers vs Jacksonville Jaguars
Why the Jaguars might win:
The Jaguars already won once in Pittsburgh this season. I’m not betting on any Steelers WR against the best secondary in the league. Juju Smith-Schuster might be in line for the most trouble in the slot. Pittsburgh’s defense is weaker without Ryan Shazier, who injured his back in week 13, and Blake Bortles showed us last week that he’s not afraid to use his legs. He averaged 8.8 yards per run compared to 3.8 yards per pass. If Leonard Fournette, Bortles and the rest of the Jags run game can get going early, they can put up enough points to compete with the Steelers. Fournette has had 24.6 opportunities per game over last six games (behind only Todd Gurley). IF elite Bortles does show up, he has some incredible WR to catch the ball.
Why Pittsburgh might win:
Steelers could win because of Jags QB Blake Bortles. He lives on both sides of the spectrum, and we never know who is going to show up. Is it the elite QB or the guy who throws for only 87 passing yards in a game (like he did against the Bills last week)?
The Steelers will run the ball a lot, and workhorse Le’Veon Bell can handle the workload. He is one of the best RBs in the league. As long as Steelers don’t abandon this strategy, they can squeak out a win against the best defense in the league.
Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints
Why the Saints might win:
Umm. Have you seen the Saints run game?! Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara are a coach’s dream duo. With arguably the best run game in the NFL, QB Drew Brees has room to throw deep balls strategically. Besides elite WR Michael Thomas, Tedd Ginn has benefited from this. A whopping 51.7% of his fantasy production has come on balls thrown 15 or more yards through the air (5th-most of 72-qualifying receivers). Couple that with CB Trae Waynes allowing the 2nd-most completions (of all CBs) on balls thrown 15 or more yards through the air. Ginn is poised for a big game.
Why the Vikings might win:
The Vikings have a GREAT defense. The defense escaped the injury bug this season and had very few areas the Saints can exploit. The Saints just used all their energy to pull out a win last week against a rival, took on more injuries, and now have to face a rested Vikings team. Minnesota is awesome on third down (first on defense, third on offense). The Saints defense allowed the Carolina Panthers to convert 47 percent on third down last week.