The Palmerbet Sports Team preview four massive NFL Divisional Playoff showdowns. Which teams will advance and stay in the race for Super Bowl LII? Read on to see their tips!
History: Played 33: Eagles 18 V Falcons 14 (1 Draw).
Last meeting: October November 13, 2016: Eagles 24 d Falcons 15 at Lincoln Financial Field.
Final Thoughts: Third in the NFC South at the end of the regular season, the 10-6 Falcons powered past the Rams 26-13 in the Wild Card round – something of an upset – to book a date with the Eagles, who topped the NFC East and took the No.1 seed with a 13-3 record. Philadelphia had a less than ideal finish to the regular season, however, shut out 6-0 by the Cowboys – their first home loss of the season. But the big factor that sees the Falcons head in as warm favourites is the injury suffered by influential Eagles QB Carson Wentz; their failure to score a point with Nick Foles deputising doesn’t bode well against a team with the third-best defence in the NFC. The Eagles’ win at home last season brought a three-game losing streak against the Falcons to an end, while they have won seven of the teams’ eight clashes at Lincoln Financial Field. This will be their first playoff meeting since the Philly prevailed 27-10 in the 2005 NFC Championship Game. The Falcons are 4-1 as away favourite this season, but they only covered in one of those matches. As heart-breaking as it is after such a successful season, Wentz’s injury seems certain to mean a first-up playoffs exit for the Eagles up against the Matt Ryan-led Falcons. .
History: Played 41: Patriots 24 V Titans 16 (1 Draw).
Last meeting: December 20, 2015: Patriots 33 d Titans 16 at Gillette Stadium.
Final Thoughts: The Titans secured their first post-season win since 2003 last weekend, a 22-21 comeback victory over the Chiefs. The Titans trailed by 18 before storming home – just the second away team to achieve a playoffs comeback of that magnitude – but they can’t afford to give their hosts any sort of start this week. The Patriots wrapped up the AFC East with a 13-3 record, finishing the regular season strong with big wins over the Bills (37-16) and Jets (26-6). The Tom Brady-led offence was second only to the Rams in the league, while they conceded more than 17 points just twice after Week 4. The Titans stumbled into the playoffs, losing three of their last four in the regular season. Quarterback Marcus Mariota and RB Derrick Henry were superb last week, but they – and the Titans’ D – will need the game of their lives to outpoint Brady, Gronk and co. The Pats are on a six-match winning streak against the Titans, winning the last four clashes by margins of 17 points or more. The teams meet in the post-season for the first time since 2004, when New England edged out Tennessee 17-14 at Gillette Stadium. It’s a big line, but the Pats should cover against a Titans side short on genuine post-season experience.
History: Played 24: Jaguars 13 V Steelers 11.
Last meeting: October 8, 2017: Jaguars 30 d Steelers 9 at Heinz Field.
Final Thoughts: Jacksonville and Pittsburgh meet at Heinz Field for the second time this season, but the Jaguars are at hefty odds to repeat their stunning 30-9 Week 5 victory. The 10-6 Jags topped the AFC South but finished the regular season poorly with losses to the 49ers and Titans, before outlasting the Bills 10-3 in the Wild Card round. The Steelers have lost just one game since that aberration against the Jaguars – a thriller against the Patriots in Week 15 – and finished with a 13-3 record and the second seed. Jacksonville’s defence, back on task last week against the Bills, is the key to this clash – especially with weapons like QB trump Ben Roethlisberger and league receiving yards leader Antonio Brown in the Steelers’ line-up. But after posting just 10 points in each of their last two games, there’s a question mark over whether the Jags have enough attacking potency to get over the home side. The teams have met once previously in the playoffs, with the Jags scoring a 31-29 win in the Pittsburgh-hosted 2008 AFC Wild Card Game. Steelers for the win, but the under shapes as the best value option with a sizeable line in play.
History: Played 32: Vikings 21 V Saints 11.
Last meeting: September 11, 2017: Vikings 29 d Saints 19 at U.S. Bank Field.
Final Thoughts: The Vikings start as clear favourites, but this shapes as potentially the most even contest of the four Divisional Playoffs as two division leaders lock horns. The Vikings topped the NFC North with a 13-3 record – losing just once after Week 4 – and carved out the league’s best defensive record. The Saints went 11-5 in the regular season – finishing atop the NFC South despite losing three of their last six – and advanced via a 31-26 Wild Card round victory over the Panthers. Only three teams scored more points than New Orleans in the regular season, and this looks to be a battle between the Vikings’ miserly D and the Saints’ Drew Brees-orchestrated offence. The Vikings’ 10-point win at home in opening week of the regular season ended a four-game losing run against the Saints, which kicked off via a 31-28 OT result in the 2010 NFC Championship Game. The Saints’ lack of consistency and the Vikings’ imposing 7-1 home record (including wins by eight-plus in their last five at U.S. Bank Stadium) loom as decisive factors in this one, but the Vikes are going to have to grind it out.