Several former Scarlet Knights are still alive in the NFL playoffs chasing the Super Bowl dream. Some have already tasted the victory champagne in the big game, while others’ hunger remains unfulfilled. Here’s the matchups in this weekend’s divisional round.
The number one seed in the NFC is three point underdogs at home? You betcha as the defending NFC champs look to be the healthiest they have been all season while Nick Foles has been adequate at best replacing the injured Carson Wentz. Many Scarlet Knight fans having a rooting interest in this game because either the Eagles are their team, or the Giants are their favorite in which case they despise Philly.
A week ago, the Falcons outlasted the Rams in Los Angeles 26-13 after some great wide receiver play. Julio Jones had 94 yards while Mohamed Sanu added 75, including this key 52 yarder (tweet below) in a long yardage situation. Sanu’s catch put the Falcons in scoring range where they were able to make it a two score game with less than six minutes to play. Atlanta will likely need more of the same to win at “the Linc” as the Eagles run defense is incredibly stout.
Kenny Britt may match up against Logan Ryan. It’s true Kenny has only two catches in a Patriots uniform, but the Patriots are famous for guys coming out of nowhere in big moments. Many of those guys are not nearly blessed with the physical skills of Britt either who is the same guy that had a 1,000 yard season in 2016. Logan and the Titans defense seems to always do their part, just like they did a week ago to allow an epic comeback against the Chiefs. You know there is nothing sweeter for a guy like Belichick than to get the best of one of his former players who skipped town for potentially greener pastures..
On the other side for Belichick’s bunch, Duron Harmon and Devin McCourty each look to add to their Super Bowl ring count in 2018 without Ryan in their position group. The Patriots defense was awful early in the season but returned to their usual spot near the top of most statistical measures in the end. McCourty did not repeat his All-Pro 2016 performance, but was still a key in several big wins for the Pats. Harmon, nicknamed “the closer”, has come on late in games as three of his four interceptions effectively “iced” New England wins.
Overall the Titans are not given much of a shot in this one, but a similar playoff circumstance in 2010 featuring a team formerly known as the Titans always serves as a reminder ... see #6 on this list.
No former Knights in this one as Jonathan Freeny was only a member of the Jaguars for FOUR calendar days earlier this year. Jacksonville is a solid team top to bottom, as long as Blake Bortles doesn’t turn it over. He threw for only 87 yards in the wild card round, but it was enough to punch a ticket to Pittsburgh in a 10-3 win over Buffalo.
The Steelers are a seemingly unstoppable force when they are clicking, even though I know they did lose to the Patriots in a bizarre ending. Pittsburgh is also a team that sometimes just doesn’t have it all clicking and can lose to anybody. (Their loss to the Bears eliminated me from my survival pool, but I’m not bitter!)
The Saints defense who were embarrassed by Sam Bradford in Week 1 is nothing like the one they have now. Freeny is now a member of the New Orleans defense with fellow late season addition George Johnson. Johnson particularly has been impressive with 2.5 sacks in just four games with the club.
On the offensive side, Brandon Coleman continues to be a part of a very potent passing attack with future Hall of Famer Drew Brees. The Saints powered through a 31-26 win over division rival Carolina last week on the strength of 376 passing yards that included 44 to Coleman on four catches. Don’t expect that many with projected snow and 13 degree temperatures at kickoff.
The spreads on this game vary from 3.5 to 5 points, which is pretty wide for a playoff game. Case Keenum is not Brees though he shocked many with how well he played this year.
Here’s to what some fans call the best football weekend of the year, four games with the best eight teams left at the highest level of competition.