Week 2 of the NFL Playoffs presents us with the Divisional Round and a new set of games for the NZME NFL Tragics of Alex Chapman, Christopher Reive, Marc Peard and Nigel Yalden to pontificate on:
NFC: San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings @ San Francisco – Sunday 10.35am
AC: I was actually unaware football continued once the Patriots lose. While it would be fun to see Minnesota continue their run and end their tortured-franchise’s drought, I can’t see them getting past Jimmy G. Against playoff teams alone, Garoppolo has thrown for 1,300 yards, more than 9 yards per attempt and 8 touchdowns.
Prediction: Niners by four
CR: The 49ers were among the league leaders in yards per game gain on offence and limited on defence - and they were the best team in the league defending the pass. Oh, and they had the second-best rushing offence. Minnesota are going to need a huge performance from running back Dalvin Cook and find a way to stop 49ers tight end George Kittle and wide outs Emmanuel Sanders and Deebo Samuels to have a chance in this one.
Prediction: 49ers by 13 or more; Emmanuel Sanders 100+ receiving yards
MP: I underestimated the Vikings last week and am looking to do the same this week. “Destiny” is a word that’s talked about all too often so why not again with the 49ers team that has shown it has flair in defence and on offence. The plot goes ... the New England Patriots should have kept Jimmy G and because they didn't, they watch him win a championship!
Prediction: 49ers by 3
NY: I tip my hat to the Vikings for dumping the New Orleans Saints out of the playoffs, but don’t think the 49ers, especially their outstanding defence, are going to give Minnesota some of the leeway they got in the Big Easy last weekend.
Prediction: San Francisco forces a couple of early turnovers and wins by double digits
AFC: Baltimore Ravens vs. Tennessee Titans @ Baltimore – Sunday 2.15pm
AC: This game is going to be about one thing – running. The Ravens led the NFL with a whopping average of 206 rushing yards per game, which was more than 45 yards per game ahead of the next closest team. A lot of that is because of quarterback Lamar Jackson, and the misdirection they get from their formations. The only way Baltimore doesn’t win? Derrick Henry. The Titans running back was dominant against the Patriots, running for 182 yards and one touchdown on 34 carries and will once again be relied on.
Prediction: Ravens in a close, high-scoring one.
CR: Baltimore has been near unstoppable this season, boasting the second-best offensive team and a top-five defence. The Titans defence was ranked 21st this season, allowing more the 350 yards per game. With the tool Baltimore has, this could get ugly.
Prediction: Ravens by 13+; Lamar Jackson to have more rushing yards than Derrick Henry
MP: Sunday, after watching the latest series of “The Mandalorian”, I should have guessed last week would bring to an end the Evil Patriots Empire at the hands of the Titans! I can’t see them doing the same to the best team in football this season.
Prediction: The Ravens win by 7
NY: Last week, Derrick Henry run amok against the best defence from the NFL regular season, however I suspect that Baltimore will be more than ready for the Tennessee running back this week. The Ravens are so well balanced – 2nd best overall offence; 4th best overall defence – and should win this at home, but man oh man there are going to be some sore body after this one cos this two teams are just going to pound each other
Prediction: Baltimore by a margin that flatters to deceive
AFC: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Houston Texans @ Kansas City – Monday 9.05am
AC: While JJ Watt’s return clearly made an impact in the Texans win over the Bills, the Chiefs are a completely different beast. The Texans have done their dash. Kansas are fantastic and quarterback Patrick Mahomes is due for a dominant game in the spotlight.
Prediction: Chiefs by heaps
CR: This is the game of the week for me. Two young quarterbacks who like to sling it, receivers are going to be worked hard. We know with Patrick Mahomes under centre for the Chiefs, they're going to score points. The question is if Houston can match them. If Will Fuller V returns from injury for Houston, I like their chances of an upset here. His speed and ability over the top makes him one of the best long gain threats in the league and defenders having to respect that opens up shorter routes for DeAndre Hopkins and Kenny Stills. Should Fuller be out, advantage Chiefs.
Prediction: Texans by 12 or fewer; both QBs have 3 touchdown passes
MP: Man the Texans looked shaky last week! I don’t see them having the same opportunity to come back if they start messy this week and I can’t see them being much more confident a week on in Arrow Head so ....
Prediction: Lock me in for a Chiefs win by 13
NY: Houston need to be so much better in the first half than they have been in their previous two playoff outings (they have been outscored by a combined 34 nil in those first halves) as the Chiefs will not be as easy to run down. Kansas City have too many attacking options for the Texans to handle and will also show why it’s an absolute travesty that their offensive co-ordinator Eric Bieniemy has not got a head coaching job in the National Football League yet
Prediction: Patrick Mahomes has a monster game as Chiefs thumped Texans
NFC: Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks @ Green Bay – Monday 12.40pm
AC: Seahawks have surprisingly been fantastic on the road, going 8-1 away from Seattle, including a 6-0 record outside of the Pacific time zone. They’re also 8-1 against the spread in their last nine games as a road underdog. That said, the Packers have been outstanding at home, so who actually knows what advantage either team has.
Prediction: Seahawks by three
CR: Aaron Rodgers v Russell Wilson; if this isn't a quarterback duel, then what's really the point? Both have strong targets across the park and while Green Bay has the better running back in Aaron Jones, the Seahawks defence has a secret weapon. Before being traded to Seattle during the season, safety Quandre Diggs played against the Packers twice a year since his debut in 2015. They'll be leaning on him for tips on how to slow Rodgers down and if they can disrupt the Packers offense we could very well see an upset.
Prediction: Seahawks by 12 or fewer; Rodgers gets picked off at least once
MP: Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson remain as the two Quarterbacks who have been there done that and have the rings to prove it. We know they should both be fine in this situation, it comes down to which team around them will be fine. I like that the Packers will have been ready for over two weeks for this one game. I also like that the Seahawks will turn up with a little something new to offer. This will come down to the Packers preparation actually working, if the Seahawks can throw them off that game plan and taking charge.
Prediction: I think the Seahawks shock the world.... and win by 3
NY: I’m so torn with this one. On one hand is the utter enjoyment I get from watching Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers do his thing on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field; on the other, the thrill of the return of Skittles powered Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch. If the Packers defence can hold the Seahawks to under 17 points, Green Bay wins; if not, chalk up another win to the Road Warriors.
Prediction: In Aaron we trust; Packers but only just