By Jason Keidel
Wild card weekend was merely a preamble to this, the most delicious weekend of the NFL year. In the Divisional Round, the eight best teams play four games over two days to unveil pro football’s final four. We went 2-2 last weekend, which is unacceptable.
Let’s do better, in order of games played.
Atlanta Falcons (11-6) @ Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)
Saturday, January 13, 2018, 4:35 pm ET
This is the first time since 1975 that a conference’s top seed is an underdog at home, with Vegas inserting the Falcons as a three-point favorite. We all know that’s because Eagles starting QB and MVP candidate Carson Wentz injured his knee in December. Nick Foles looked great when he first replaced Wentz, then reminded us why he’s not a starting QB in the NFL.
Consider this from NJ.com. In the 13 full games Wentz started, the Eagles were among the best third-down teams in the NFL, with 50 percent of Wentz’s completed passes resulting in a first down, second-best in the league. Under Wentz the Eagles were the best in third-and-short and third-and-long. Since Foles assumed the helm, however, the Eagles are converting just 23 percent of the time on third down. Foles hasn’t completed a third-down pass that resulted in a first-down since the third quarter in Week 15 against the Giants.
Not only that, the Eagles have lost four-straight playoff games, including two in Philadelphia. And if you’re hoping for some frigid, windy, and inhospitable weather to tilt the scales toward the home team, it looks like they will play during the rare, January day around 50 degrees. The Falcons surely and officially overcame their Super Bowl hangover when they whipped the Rams in Los Angeles last weekend.
The Eagles’ fourth-ranked defense is too good to be whipped, but not too good to be beat. Especially since they will be on the field all day.
Prediction: Falcons win, 20-13
>>MORE: Boomer Esiason On NFC Divisional Round Matchups
Tennessee Titans (10-7) @ New England Patriots (13-3)
Saturday, January 13, 2018, 8:15 pm ET
The Patriots are an absurd 20-4 at home in the playoffs, with the vast majority of those wins coming under the blessed gridiron tandem of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Since 1966, teams that are favored by at least 13.5 points — the Vegas number for this game — are 19-3 overall (not against the spread).
The Titans are an overachieving team that made a miraculous…