Author: Sam Gemini
WSUM Sports writer Sam Gemini dives into each of the NFL divisional playoff matchups and offers his predictions:
Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers
Pick: San Francisco 49ers
Minnesota, coming off a dramatic overtime victory in New Orleans, has a tough task ahead of them. The 49ers are the number one seed in the NFC, which means they never had to leave the comfort of their own homes and got to watch the rest of the conference beat up on each other in the wild card round. Now, this well rested squad is at home against a Vikings team on a short week following an extremely emotional win at the Superdome. We saw what happens to teams the week after such a win two years ago, when Minnesota laid an egg in Philadelphia following the Minneapolis miracle. Kirk Cousins was outstanding for his team on Sunday, but that doesn’t change the fact that the 49ers are the better team and will be fresh and ready to go. Jimmy Garoppolo will manage the game well, and San Francisco will ride their awesome run game and defense to the NFC Championship.
Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens
Pick: Baltimore Ravens
Tennessee goes into Foxborough. Derrick Henry rushes for 182 yards. Brady throws a pick six. The dynasty ends. The empire falls. The Titans have done it. With that, the biggest win in franchise history, they earn a trip to Baltimore where they will be blasted into another dimension by the Ravens. Henry is great, but he cannot do what he did in New England against a much better and much more rested Ravens team. The Tennessee defense isn’t nearly good enough to stop Mark Ingram and sure MVP Lamar Jackson. The Titans will have the ball for about a third of the game, and Baltimore will have more touchdowns than punts. The second half of this game will provide America with an opportunity to catch up on their favorite TV series.
Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs
Pick: Kansas City Chiefs
The Texans are the weirdest team in the NFL. They have an extremely talented quarterback, a great number one receiver, and one of the best defensive players in the country. They get off to inexplicable bad starts, frequently forcing Watson to dig them out of a hole, and they have one of the worst defenses in the entire NFL. They were barely able to overcome these flaws at home against Buffalo, but things will be different in Kansas City on Sunday. Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill are going to shred Houston’s secondary, along with one of the league’s best tight ends, Travis Kelce. The Chiefs’ defense is much better than many people realize, holding opponents under twenty in five of its last six and under ten in three of those games. The Texans are too reliant on Deshaun Watson, and it will be their downfall as they get blown out in Kansas City.
Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers
Pick: Green Bay Packers
Divisional weekend finishes with a game between two bad football teams. Russell Wilson is the only reason Seattle made the playoffs, and the Packers are one of the worst 13-3 teams of all time. The deciding factor in this game will be the NFL’s third tie breaker. This tiebreaker allowed the Packers to finish ahead of the Saints for a first round bye. They will be fresh and rested at Lambeau Field, allowing them to win over the Seahawks. Wilson can only do so much, and he will not be able to overcome the flaws around him. The cold weather will put a premium on running the ball allowing Aaron Jones to have a strong rushing day against Seattle’s weak defense. Green Bay’s good red zone defense will keep the Seahawks out of the endzone, and Aaron Rodgers will be clutch enough to send the Packers to the NFC Championship.