NFL Divisional Playoffs: Picks & predictions

John Shipley

The Titans produced one of the greatest comebacks in franchise history last weekend. Expect Atlanta to return to the NFC Championship for the second-straight year with a 20-10 win. The other game going on this weekend is the Jacksonville Jaguars taking on the Pittsburg Steelers in the AFC.

Here's my picks for the divisional round.

How will the Eagles utilize their Nick Foles-led offense? Everybody knows this is not the same team without MVP candidate Carson Wentz under center, and it has shown. He didn't look good against Oakland or Dallas in a limited role. They took advantage of critical Rams special teams turnovers and converted them into points, while the defense took care of the young Rams offense.

The Patriots are 9-1 at home in the playoffs since the 2011 season. Upsets happen but this one to me, this is a "lock" type of game. It is half the odds of the Tennessee Titans, who are still alive to win this year's Super Bowl after stunning the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday. The Patriots must be very happy the way this has played out for them. The long time Saints signal caller will be a first ballot Hall of Famer yet will likely be overshadowed for playing in the same era as Aaron Rodgers, Tome Brady, and Peyton Manning. After waiting patiently behind veteran DeMarco Murray, Henry is finally getting his chance. Not only did Bortles only complete 3 more passes to Jacksonville than Roethlisberger did, but if you add up the return yardage on those 5 interceptions, Big Ben threw for 103 yards to the Jacksonville defense and Bortles only threw 95 yards to the Jacksonville offense.

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Despite that, Roethlisberger threw for 312 yards compared to Blake Bortles' 95. Drew Brees was fantastic last week with 376 passing yards and two touchdowns. Pittsburgh's defense wasn't great at stopping the run on the year - allowing 4.4yards per rush attempt, which was 28th in the league. When the rubber meets the road between good offense and good defense, especially in the National Football League playoffs when the sheer volume of recreational money can make a serious impact on the point spread, more often than not the best value is on the good defense.

Don't be surprised if the Dirty Birds knock off their second Super Bowl contender in a row, even if it means less FSU presence in the playoffs. Do what I am going to do, have a beer and cheer for points and competitive games!

Pittsburgh will lean on the ground game. More time for star receiver Antonio Brown to recover from injury - he has returned as a full participant in practice. Only slightly, but as Bill Belichick did point out this week, the Titans have essentially won two playoff games in a row if you include their win or go home week 17 game against Jacksonville. The rest of his team will just need to be on its A game.

Although the Vikings possibly playing at home raises a lot of issues, they still have to win two games to get there. Many will call this pick insane or a "hot take", but there's real data to back up the claim that the Jaguars are just as good - if not better - than the Steelers. The Saints are more balanced this season, ranking fourth in scoring offense and 10th in scoring defense.

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The Colts' Mike Vanderjagt, the most accurate kicker in National Football League history at the time, then badly missed wide right on a 46-yard field goal attempt as the Steelers held on en route to winning the Super Bowl.

While many were trying to find ways to pay for Michael Thomas last week, Ted Ginn Jr.

I am picking two teams who had first round byes to lose during the divisional round.

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