NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS
By Leo Haggerty
OK, ladies and gentlemen, it’s pucker time when it comes to the second week of the National Football League’s post season. It win and advance or lose and go home time for the eight survivors.
Here are my four choices to get to NFL Conference Championship Sunday. Let me know which ones you agree with and which ones you think I am just crazy.
ATLANTA AT PHILADELPHIA
A couple of facts. Falcons are a dome team. Game will be played in Philly with temperature at kickoff right around freezing and will drop into the 20s during the contest when the sun goes down. Plus, the wind is extremely unpredictable at The Linc. With all that being said, I’m saying Atlanta 14. Philadelphia 13. Mother Nature 10 and she’s on the Eagles side. PHL, 23-14, with Nick Foles making enough plays to support a big defensive effort by the Green Birds.
TENNESSEE AT NEW ENGLAND
On paper this looks like a blowout but, as Lee Corso says, no so fast my friend. The Titans can do one thing that has given the Pats problems all year and that’s consistently run the football. Even though RB DeMarco Murray may be on the shelf for this contest, back up Derrick Henry dropped 156 yards on 23 carries on Kansas City last week. If the Titans can run the football early that will do two things. Shorten the fame and keep the Patriots offense on the sidelines. If Tennessee can get to the fourth quarter with the lead, look out. Then the outcome is in doubt. Still, hard to beat NE at Gillette Stadium in January. NE, 27-24, with some late Brady heroics.
NEW ORLEANS AT MINNESOTA
This one is a toss-up in my opinion. Both dome teams and both having really good offenses plus better defenses. Don’t like to go against Drew Brees especially now that he has a running game so he can throw it when he wants to and not on every down. Still, I cannot discount the home dome advantage. MIN, 28-27, with a late Case Keenum TD pass.
JACKSONVILLE AT PITTSBURGH
Another warm weather team going north in the middle of winter. Also, another team that desperately needs to run the football to stay in the game. Yeah, I know the Jags just destroyed the Steelers during the regular season at Heinz Field but it’s the playoffs. Don’t expect Big Ben to throw five interceptions again so, for that reason alone, I’ve got to go with The ‘Burgh. PIT, 30-21, in a game that may be closer than the final score.