Divisional Round Brings Us One Step Closer To Super Bowl LII
We may very well see a rematch of the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII. Of course, several teams are making cases against this narrative, but it is certainly possible. The NFL Playoffs Divisional Round sees some interesting matchups, though one sticks out amongst the rest.
First things first, the easy games. Well, no matchup in the NFL should be considered easy (just ask the Kansas City Chiefs), but there are a couple games that should be guaranteed. The first of which is the New England Patriots against the Tennessee Titans. Tennessee has had a decent season that saw them clinch a Wild Card spot and they also led a sizeable comeback against the Kansas City Chiefs, but the Patriots are an entirely different animal. QB Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick are on the hunt for their 6th Super Bowl victory. This could also be their last go at the title together, so another victory would be a proper send off for this dynasty. QB Marcus Mariota has a phenomenal career ahead of him, but the New England Patriots will likely not be a positive chapter in his NFL career, at least for this year.
Another easy W should be the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars had an ugly 10-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills in the first round with QB Blake Bortles leading the rushing corps—that’s right, rushing corps. Bortles had more rushing yards than passing yards, which technically is better than his normal rate of interceptions. Bortles will be up against a stout Steelers defense, not to mention a lack of all-star receivers. The Steelers regained WR Antonio Brown over the break, which is great news for a potential AFC Championship against the Pats. The Steelers have been bitter ever since their AFC Championship loss last year. Add their controversial loss to the Pats at the end of regular season and you’ve got more fuel for the fire.
The Falcons-Eagles matchup should be more of a competition, but with the loss of Eagles’ QB Carson Wentz, it is more in the Falcons’ favor. Atlanta came out on top over the LA Rams and made a statement that they are here for a reason—to fight back for their Super Bowl loss last season. They do not have the same offensive coordinator, but they have the same weapons in place to get them there. Philadelphia’s backup QB Nick Foles has a checkered past with the franchise, one that is spotty at best, but you can bet that the organization has done everything they can to prepare him.
The most exciting game of the round falls to the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings. Both are 2 strong NFC teams that will give the Falcons a run for their money. Minnesota has the best defense in the league this year, not to mention QB Case Keenum, RB Latavius Murray, RB Jerick McKinnon, Kyle Rudolph, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. The Vikings have dominated throughout the season and have shown why they deserve a shot at Super Bowl LII. Fans are hoping the week off hasn’t left them rusty. Meanwhile, the Saints narrowly escaped the Carolina Panthers. Coach Sean Payton made a questionable call late in the game that should’ve cost them dearly, but thankfully the defense pulled through. QB Cam Newton’s likely concussion also had something to do with it. Saints’ QB Drew Brees is having a hell of a season, and their run game is solid, but the question is if it is better than Minnesota’s stout defense.
Fans can get in on legal Super Bowl betting through one of several licensed offshore sportsbooks. The odds for Super Bowl LII will likely change again after this weekend, so be sure to keep updated. The most probable outcome is an AFC Championship rematch between the Pats and Steelers and an NFC Championship between the Falcons and Vikings.