It's part two of the divisional round. Let's see if there will be an "upset" today. These games should be edge of your seat. One is a rematch of a regular season game that was so lopsided that everyone thought it was a fluke. The other is also a rematch of a week 1 game that had some questioning the longevity of a storied quarterback. Needless to say, we are all in for big games. This is how I see them playing out.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS VS PITTSBURGH STEELERS:
Everyone knows how the regular season match up between these two teams ended up. Pittsburgh was none too happy with the end result especially the way it happened. Is this a redemption game for the Steelers? In a way, yes. Mostly, it is a step to the next game. The Steelers are going to have to keep up all appearances. The team will have to focus after the displeasure RB Le'Veon Bell has recently voiced with his upcoming contract talks. Even with WR Antonio Brown back after missing the last two games, they are going to need a complete team effort including RB Le'Veon Bell, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, and WR Martavis Bryant. The duo of Jacksonville's CBs, Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, will have something to say about those Steeler wide outs getting any catches. QB Ben Roethlisberger will have to roll out and be a bit more mobile to make those plays against the Jags top ranked defense. Pittsburgh defense will have to stop the likes of Jags RB Leonard Fournette who ran for 180+ yards when they met last time. The Jags will need QB Blake Bortles to step up his game today. He did not have much to do with that regular season victory over the Steelers. Defense played a huge role in that win. They will have to do that again today. The Jacksonville receiving core (Allen Hurns, DedeWestbrook, Keelan Cole, and Marqise Lee) will look to Bortles to get that ball down the field on third and long. The Pittsburgh defense has only allowed and average of 105 yards per game since that loss in week 5. A true defensive battle will ensue for these two teams. Can lightning strike twice?
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS VS MINNESOTA VIKINGS:
This has all the right pieces for a storybook ending if the Vikes play it right. They are potentially playing for the chance to play in the Super Bowl in their own stadium. They will have to win over the playoff experienced New Orleans Saints to get there though. The Vikings were one team that really did not need a week off. It will be a momentum shift for them as the elite Saints QB Drew Brees comes to town after a win over Carolina last week. The Vikes have QB Case Keenum leading the charge armed with WR Adam Thielen, WR Stefon Diggs, and TE Kyle Rudolph. If that is not enough, he can hand off to RBs Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray. Minnesota will try to counter the Saints passing game with CB Xavier Rhodes, S Harrison Smith, and CB Trae Waynes. Do not forget DE Everson Griffen and his merry band of linemen. Oh, the Vikes defense is not number one for nothing. The Saints will try to counter all of that with their own brand of football. They have CB Marshon Lattimore, who even makes interceptions with his backside, and S Kenny Vaccaro on the coverage for those Viking receivers. New Orleans also have their own running game with RB Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, who have been more than explosive the past few weeks. Do not forget WRs Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn, Jr. for the long ball from Brees. Brees is known for getting the ball down the field while on the run. He will be time enough for the Minnesota defense since their week 1 meeting. The one thing that could possibly negate everything here is that the Saints on the road are not the best. Look for one on one matchups throughout this game to be more than exciting with the NFC Championship on the line.
I think these will be the best two games of the week. What do you think? I split the Saturday games. Playoff football is the best! Enjoy the games. Good luck to your teams and picks!
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