NFL Game Previews: Breaking Down the Divisional Playoffs
NFL Game Previews: Breaking Down the Divisional Playoffs

This article is part of our NFL Game Previews series.

Atlanta at Philadelphia (+3), 41.0 o/u – Saturday, 4:35 p.m. EST

The Story: The Falcons didn't end up having much trouble dispatching the Rams last week, and on paper it seems like they have the red carpet laid out for them to get back to the NFC title game. An Eagles team with Nick Foles under center instead of Carson Wentz seems a lot more manageable obstacle to overcome, and even the weather seems to be cooperating with the dome-acclimated visitors, as it figures to be unseasonably warm in Philadelphia on Saturday. This one's hardly a gimme, though. The Falcons defense has been playing well but did allow Todd Gurley to top 100 yards from scrimmage against them last week with a 7.2 YPC, which has to have Jay Ajayi (5.8 YPC in seven games as an Eagle) and the rest of Philly's multi-headed backfield licking their lips. The home birds' defense is at least as good as Atlanta's as well, especially up front, and Matt Ryan's string of mediocre performances doesn't suggest he's ready to exploit an Eagles secondary that's their weakest link.

The Skinny:
2017 regular-season ATL offense: 22.1 PPG (15th), 115.4 rushing yds/gm (13th), 259.1 passing yds/gm (9th), 24 sacks allowed (T-3rd), 18 turnovers (T-9th)
2017 regular-season PHI offense: 28.6 PPG (3rd), 132.2 rushing yds/gm (3rd), 247.9 passing yds/gm (14th), 36 sacks allowed (16th), 20 turnovers (T-11th)
2017 regular-season ATL defense: 19.7 PPG allowed (8th), 104.1 rushing yds/gm allowed (9th), 232.8 passing yds/gm allowed (11th), 39 sacks (T-13th), 16 turnovers (T-27th)
2017 regular-season PHI defense: 18.4 PPG allowed (4th), 79.2 rushing yds/gm allowed (1st), 242.7 passing yds/gm allowed (18th), 38 sacks (T-15th), 31 turnovers (4th)
2017 regular-season net QB rating: ATL, plus 0.5 (16th); PHI, plus 18.1 (5th)
Key injuries, ATL: none; PHI: none
Weather forecast: partly cloudy, 15 mph wind, less than 10 percent chance of rain

The Scoop: Devonta Freeman puts together 70 combined yards, while Tevin Coleman provides 50 and a TD. Ryan throws for 200 yards and a score to Julio Jones. Ajayi piles up 90 combined yards and a touchdown, while Corey Clement adds a receiving TD. Foles throws for 220 yards and a second touchdown to Nelson Agholor. Eagles, 24-20

Tennessee (+13.5) at New England, 48.0 o/u – Saturday, 8:15 p.m. EST

The Story: OK, sure, on the one hand the Titans are probably only still alive because of Andy Reid's limitations as a coach and inability to keep his offense rolling after Travis Kelce got knocked out of the game. On the other hand, they still had to claw their way out of a hole in the second half and have now won consecutive must-win games, so give them at least a smidge of credit. Bill Belichick is no Andy Reid, of course, and this should be a laugher even if Tennessee managed to take Rob Gronkowski out of the equation the way they did Kelce, but there is a vaguely plausible path to an upset here for the Titans. Run defense is the Patriots' biggest weakness, so if they just jam Derrick Henry down New England's throat for four quarters and try to keep Tom Brady off the field while chewing up clock, they might be able to steal a low-scoring affair. Otherwise, eep. I mean, it's not like Marcus Mariota is going to pull a Mr. Perfect and throw a TD pass to himself again.

The Skinny:
2017 regular-season TEN offense: 20.9 PPG (19th), 114.6 rushing yds/gm (15th), 212.1 passing yds/gm (25th), 35 sacks allowed (T-13th), 25 turnovers (T-23rd)
2017 regular-season NE offense: 28.6 PPG (2nd), 118.1 rushing yds/gm (10th), 288.7 passing yds/gm (1st), 35 sacks allowed (T-13th), 12 turnovers (2nd)
2017 regular-season TEN defense: 22.3 PPG allowed (17th), 88.8 rushing yds/gm allowed (4th), 256.3 passing yds/gm allowed (26th), 43 sacks (T-5th), 21 turnovers (T-16th)
2017 regular-season NE defense: 18.5 PPG allowed (5th), 114.8 rushing yds/gm allowed (20th), 269.9 passing yds/gm allowed (32nd), 42 sacks (T-7th), 18 turnovers (25th)
2017 regular-season net QB rating: TEN, minus 10.7 (21st); NE, plus 13.1 (10th)
Key injuries, TEN: RB DeMarco Murray (knee, out); NE: RB Rex Burkhead (knee, questionable)
Weather forecast: partly cloudy, 11 mph wind, less than 10 percent chance of snow

The Scoop: Henry gets held to 70 yards, but he does score a touchdown. Mariota throws for 230 yards and a TD to Rishard Matthews but gets picked off twice. Dion Lewis erupts for 140 combined yards and two scores, one rushing and one receiving. Brady throws for 270 yards and two more scores, both to Gronk, while Chris Hogan tops 100 yards. Patriots, 31-14

Jacksonville (+7) at Pittsburgh, 41.0 o/u – Sunday, 1:05 p.m. EST

The Story: The last time these teams met back in Week 5, it didn't go so well for the home squad as Ben Roethlisberger got intercepted five times – including two pick-sixes. That ended up being more than a third of his INTs this season, so a repeat performance from Big Ben seems highly unlikely, but the Jags defense seemed to get back to its dominant ways last week against the Bills. What Jacksonville needs, though, is for Blake Bortles to snap out of it. He had more rushing yards than passing yards last week, and it's not like Buffalo's secondary is elite. Another poor game from him and Jacksonville might need their defense to generate plenty of points to keep pace with a Steelers offense that welcoming back Antonio Brown and looking for some serious revenge.

The Skinny:
2017 regular-season JAC offense: 26.1 PPG (5th), 141.4 rushing yds/gm (1st), 232.3 passing yds/gm (18th), 24 sacks allowed (T-3rd), 23 turnovers (T-19th)
2017 regular-season PIT offense: 25.4 PPG (8th), 104.2 rushing yds/gm (20th), 283.4 passing yds/gm (4th), 24 sacks allowed (T-3rd), 20 turnovers (T-11th)
2017 regular-season JAC defense: 16.8 PPG allowed (2nd), 116.3 rushing yds/gm allowed (21st), 192.1 passing yds/gm allowed (1st), 55 sacks (2nd), 33 turnovers (2nd)
2017 regular-season PIT defense: 19.3 PPG allowed (7th), 105.8 rushing yds/gm allowed (10th), 225.6 passing yds/gm allowed (5th), 56 sacks (1st), 22 turnovers (T-13th)
2017 regular-season net QB rating: JAC, plus 15.9 (7th); PIT, plus 12.3 (12th)
Key injuries, JAC: CB Jalen Ramsey (Achilles, questionable), LB Telvin Smith (ankle, questionable), LB Paul Posluszny (abdomen, questionable); PIT: CB Artie Burns (knee, questionable)
Weather forecast: partly cloudy, wind less than 10 mph, less than 10 percent chance of snow

The Scoop: Leonard Fournette gains 90 combined yards and a TD. Bortles throws for 240 yards and a touchdown to Marqise Lee but gets picked off three times, one of which Sean Davis returns to the house. Le'Veon Bell puts together 100 combined yards and a score. Roethlisberger throws for 250 yards and a touchdown to Brown. Steelers, 24-14

New Orleans (+5) at Minnesota, 46.5 o/u – Sunday, 4:40 p.m. EST

The Story: The Saints got past the Panthers last week by falling back on their old formula, namely relying on Drew Brees to sling it around. That may not work against the Vikings' defense – it didn't when the two teams met way back in Week 1 – but it does highlight what could end up being the difference in this one, which is the quarterbacks. Sure, New Orleans has their dynamic backfield duo and Minnesota has a defense that has been among the elite all year, but this game could well be decided by whether Case Keenum can match Brees' level of play. If he does, and proves that his regular-season excellence was no fluke, the Vikes should advance. If Keenum turns into a pumpkin, though, the front office is going to have some very difficult decisions to make in a longer-than-expected offseason on what to do at the position.

The Skinny:
2017 regular-season NO offense: 28.0 PPG (4th), 129.4 rushing yds/gm (5th), 270.9 passing yds/gm (6th), 20 sacks allowed (2nd), 18 turnovers (T-9th)
2017 regular-season MIN offense: 23.9 PPG (10th), 122.3 rushing yds/gm (7th), 245.6 passing yds/gm (15th), 27 sacks allowed (T-7th), 14 turnovers (3rd)
2017 regular-season NO defense: 20.4 PPG allowed (10th), 111.7 rushing yds/gm allowed (16th), 242.8 passing yds/gm allowed (19th), 42 sacks (T-7th), 25 turnovers (T-9th)
2017 regular-season MIN defense: 15.8 PPG allowed (1st), 83.6 rushing yds/gm allowed (2nd), 208.1 passing yds/gm allowed (2nd), 37 sacks (T-17th), 19 turnovers (T-23rd)
2017 regular-season net QB rating: NO, plus 24.9 (2nd); MIN, plus 26.1 (1st)
Key injuries, NO: none; MIN: DE Everson Griffen (foot, questionable)
Weather forecast: indoors

The Scoop: Mark Ingram pounds out 70 yards and a TD, while Alvin Kamara gets held to 50 combined yards. Brees throws for 280 yards and touchdowns to Michael Thomas and Tommylee Lewis. Latavius Murray picks up 80 yards and a score. Keenum throws for 250 yards and a touchdown to Stefon Diggs, but also gets picked off twice in the second half. Saints, 27-20

Last week's record: 3-1, 1-3 ATS, 3-1 o/u
2017 regular-season record: 164-92, 111-131-14 ATS, 114-138-4 o/u
2016 regular-season record: 155-99-2, 110-136-10 ATS, 139-112-5 o/u
2015 regular-season record: 157-99, 137-111-8 ATS

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erik Siegrist
Erik Siegrist is an FSWA award-winning columnist who covers all four major North American sports (that means the NHL, not NASCAR) and whose beat extends back to the days when the Nationals were the Expos and the Thunder were the Sonics. He was the inaugural champion of Rotowire's Staff Keeper baseball league. His work has also appeared at Baseball Prospectus.
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