Bing Predicts: NFL Playoffs Divisional Round

Bing Predicts: NFL Playoffs Divisional Round

When Ryan plays in his 10th postseason game Saturday, he'll become one of eight active quarterbacks - along with Brady, Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco, Brees, Eli Manning and Russell Wilson - with double-digit starts in the playoffs. The Rams may have been the more talented team, but this talent just did not look ready for the stage, while the Falcons were.

The Falcons were not great on offense by any means. They took advantage of critical Rams special teams turnovers and converted them into points, while the defense took care of the young Rams offense. Everybody knows this is not the same team without MVP candidate Carson Wentz under center, and it has shown. The current spread, therefore, implies a gap of 10+ points between Wentz and Foles. The Jacksonville offense needs to be better than it was last week, and I think it will be.

How do the Falcons win?

The first weekend of the National Football League playoffs started out well for the Best Bets, hitting the Tennessee Titans plus-8 (didn't need the points) and the Atlanta Falcons plus-6 (didn't need those either).

Don't expect a second improbable win for the Titans this postseason.

The talk in Pittsburgh has been about avenging that defeat and, with a first-round bye, the Steelers were able to put their feet up and rest last weekend. Running back Derrick Henry took some of the pressure off him, but he made big plays at big moments including his pass to himself that he ran in for a touchdown. And given the Eagles questions on offense, the whole [Nick] Foles situation and some shaky secondary play, this is an upset game in the making.

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The 13.5-point spread is huge but, with the Titans such slow starters in games this season, this one really could be over at half-time, setting up the first half of what seems like an inevitable Patriots v Steelers AFC Championship match-up.

The Patriots have been superb at home in the postseason with six straight wins in Foxborough. The Titans will ride their momentum from Kansas City to a strong first half in New England, and this game will be closer than the spread indicates, but Brady and the Patriots will be too much to handle as the game progresses. The Jaguars have a young, hungry, and extremely talented defense, but their offense is terrible. Even though the Jaguars are one of only two teams to have a winning record in Pittsburgh during the Roethlisberger era (4-1), Bortles is the more likely QB to throw five picks in what amounts to the biggest game of his life. It's that same defense that allowed Jacksonville to win in Pittsburgh 30-9 in Week 5. Only five defenses faced a higher passing rate in the red zone this season, and no team left in the playoffs allowed a higher passing-touchdown rate inside the 20.

This is a case where I'll go with the better quarterback. Steelers win 24 to 7. But that factor will be tested in all four Divisional Round games. Meanwhile, Schwartz has taken a defense that ranked below average the year before he arrived according to DVOA and elevated it into a top-5 defense in each of his first two seasons in Philadelphia.

This is a rematch of a Week One game that the Vikings won 29-19, but these are far different teams now. Minnesota has talent, terrific coaching, and they have the once in a lifetime opportunity of playing in the Super Bowl in their home stadium.

The No 1 ranked defense of the Vikings goes up against the No 2 ranked offense of the Saints! This marks the Falcons' fourth road game in five weeks, all demanding playoff-like intensity; during the same stretch, the Eagles' only road game entailed a quick trip to NY and they've been home since before Christmas.


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