When it comes to predicting winners in the NFL, it’s easier said than done. On a week-to-week basis anyone can emerge victorious. A winless team. An undefeated team. Evenly matched team. Any team can win on any given Sunday. It was something that showed in Saturday’s Divisional Playoffs.
With the start of the 2018 Divisional Playoffs, we were reminded that when it comes to guaranteed victories, that honor falls usually with the New England Patriots. And that reigned true on Saturday.
The Philadelphia Eagles were the first No. 1 seed to be an underdog to a No. 6 seed. It was clear that the an Eagles team without Carson Wentz wasn’t a threat. But the Eagles, with some help from the Atlanta Falcons, were able to emerge with the upset — a 15-10 victory.
There was no way the New England Patriots were going to lose this game. Even when the Tennessee Titans got an early 7-0 lead. There was never a doubt that the Patriots wouldn’t win. It was kind of like the Titans’ touchdown pissed Tom Brady off. And the offense never looked back in the 35-14 victory.
Let’s recap Saturday’s Divisional match-ups:
Falcons Fall Flat, Eagles Hold On To Win
The Philadelphia Eagles were the favorite to win the NFC. There were one of the league’s high-flying offenses. Nothing could slow down their offense. Or their defense. It was almost a foregone conclusion that they were going to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
Until Carson Wentz went down with a torn ACL a few weeks ago. Until Nick Foles took over at quarterback.
Nobody gave the Eagles a chance. They didn’t give them a chance to win the NFC or win Saturday’s game against the surging Atlanta Falcons, which showed with the Falcons’ being a 6 seed favored against the No. 1 seed Eagles.
Thanks to a last-minute goal-line stand by the Eagles defense, Philadelphia survived to live another day with a 15-10 victory as they advanced to next Sunday’s NFC Title Game.
After jumping out to a 10-0 lead in the second quarter, the Falcons fell flat relinquishing nine points to close the quarter. While they had a 10-9 lead headed into the second half, the Falcons failed to score any points in the second half, which only added to the disappointment.
But despite the Falcons’ disappointment, they had a chance to win at the end of the game. The Falcons had first down at the 9-yard line with four chances to get into the endzone. The Eagles defense came up with four straight stops to preserve the five-point victory.
Some things never change. Whether it’s 28-3 or 10-0, the Falcons once again choked early in a game that was theirs to lose.
The Falcons’ demise can be traced back to the early parts of the game in the first quarter when Atlanta failed to take advantage of opportunities to jump ahead. In a game that was decided by five points, the Falcons surely regret those missed opportunities, along with their 0 second-half points.
The Eagles, on the other hand, are riding their “upset” win and knowing that the road to the Super Bowl run through Lincoln Financial Field. If they could get even some semblance of decent quarterback play from Foles, along with continued dominance from their defense, they might just stand a chance in next week’s NFC Championship.
Patriots Roll to Easy Divisional Victory
Even when the Tennessee Titans held an early 7-0 lead over the New England Patriots, there was never a doubt of who would win this game. After the Patriots answered with a touchdown drive of their own, there was a belief that New England already had this game won.
The Patriots rolled to an easy 35-14 victory over the Titans to advance to their seventh consecutive AFC Title game, an accomplishment that makes Patriots fans grin and other fans sick. But the Patriots are now one win away from making it back to the Super Bowl.
Tom Brady was Tom Brady in the victory passing for 337 yards and three touchdowns as New England’s offense delivered like they always do. This was Brady’s 10th playoff game in which he’s tossed three touchdowns, another notch to add to the record book.
Marcus Mariota had respectable numbers — completing 22 of 37 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns — but he was the victim of duress from a hungry Patriots defense that sacked him a Patriots playoff-best 8 times.
The Wild Card playoffs continue on Sunday with the Jacksonville Jaguars taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers at 1:05pm and the New Orleans Saints taking on the Minnesota Vikings at 4:40pm.