Road to Super Bowl LII under way in NFL

Tom Brady takes a jog. Keith Allison/

Keith Allison

Tom Brady takes a jog. Keith Allison/

Connor Zimmerlee

AFC Divisional Round: 


Titans vs. Patriots

Heading into the AFC divisional round, the Tennessee Titans are riding a wave of momentum. After facing the Kansas City Chiefs in the wildcard round, the Titans pulled off one of the most improbable comebacks in NFL playoff history, winning 22-21 to advance to the next round. After trailing 21-3 at the half, the Titans’ playoff hopes appeared all but gone. However, they turned the game around in the second half on the backs of a stout defensive performance and Derrick Henry constantly pounding the football for five to six yards a carry. Now awaiting them in round two is arguably the best quarterback to ever play the game, Tom Brady. The Titans were arguably the worst team to make the playoffs, and their win over the Chiefs doesn’t change that very much. Tom Brady should easily shred the Titans secondary in route to a Patriots win.

Prediction: Patriots win 35-20

Jaguars vs. Steelers

The second AFC divisional game is a rematch of a game from week five between the Jaguars and Steelers in which the Jaguars blew out the Steelers 30-9. The Jaguars enter the rematch on the heels of an ugly 10-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills. The Jacksonville offense was unable to do much, as the defense was the heavy hand in their victory. Heading into their rematch with Pittsburgh, it is not hard to see why most people expect the results to be the same. However, the first meeting between the two was won by two Jacksonville defensive touchdowns and a 90-yard garbage time touchdown by Leonard Fournette. In the rematch, expect the Steelers to use a heavy dosage of their wide receivers led by MVP candidate Antonio Brown to outlast the Jaguars.

Prediction: Steelers win 24-14



Saints vs Vikings

Perhaps the most exciting divisional round matchup comes when the New Orleans Saints head north to face the Minnesota Vikings. Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, a two-headed monster in the backfield for the Saints, were held in check by a stout Panthers rush defense. New Orleans relied on the arm of veteran quarterback Drew Brees, and he delivered. Brees marched the Saints up and down the field with relative ease in their first-round victory. However, the Vikings boast one of the best defenses in the league, and also pose a threat to shut down the vaunted Saints rushing attack. This game will be an intense matchup, and the ultimate key could very well be the ability of Case Keenum to continue consistently leading the Vikings offense in his first career playoff start.

Prediction: Vikings win 28-27

Falcons vs Eagles

The other contest on the NFC side of the bracket might have been the best game of the entire playoffs prior to week 14, when then MVP frontrunner Carson Wentz tore his ACL. With Wentz at the helm, the Eagles offense was one of the deadliest offenses in the league; However, with Nick Foles under center, the Eagles have fallen off offensively in the following weeks. Due to this, the possibility of a Falcons victory is far greater. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones lead a potent offense that has gained momentum heading into this matchup, and the defense has silently improved. The Falcons defense was able to hold in check the best offense in football led by Todd Gurleyduring wild card weekend, so expect them to beat the Eagles and advance to the NFC Championship game for a second straight year.

Prediction: Falcons win 28-17.