We are now a week into the NFL playoffs and the field of teams still in the mix for the Super Bowl is down to eight. By the end of this weekend, we’ll have narrowed it down further, with just two teams in the AFC and two in the NFC vying for representation from their respective conferences on the biggest stage in football.
As usual, we expect some pretty wild things to happen when these games actually start. So here we are again without any bold predictions. Just like last week, we have one for every match on the schedule.
When the Chiefs and Jaguars played back in Week 10, Travis Kelce played a good game. He caught 6 of 7 passes thrown his way, totaling 81 yards and a touchdown. But as we know, Kelce is capable of much more than just that statistic. And the Jaguars had a hard time defending tight ends this season. According to Football Outsiders, Jacksonville ranks 32nd (aka last) in the NFL in DVOA in pitches. The Jags put up 81 receptions for 1,066 yards and seven scoring for players at the position, and we’ve seen their linebackers in particular used in coverage all year long. Even against the Chargers last week, Gerald Everett and Donal Parham combined for 10 receptions for 133 yards and a score on 13 targets. Expect Kelce to have a big day on Saturday.
Danny Dimes has shown a ton of improvement in just about every area this season. Nowhere was that more evident than in his performance against the Vikings on Super Wild Card Weekend, which was arguably the best game of his career. Jones completed 24 of 35 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing 17 times for 78 extra yards. In two games against Minnesota this season, Brian Daboll and Co. Jones to air it out, utilizing one of the NFL’s friendliest pass defenses. The Eagles have no friendly pass defense. They have one of the best pass-rush units in the league and an extremely sticky group of cover players. Jones was 18-of-27 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown the last time these two teams played, and while he added four carries for 26 yards and an extra score, he also grabbed four sacks. The Giants offense is better now than it was then, but dealing with this Philadelphia defense is still a much tougher task than it was a week ago.
bills vs. Bengals: Buffalo exposes Cincy’s lack of depth up front
The Bengals are bleeding offensive linemen by the week. In Week 16, they lost La’el Collins’ right tackle for the season to a torn cruciate ligament. In Week 18, they lost guard Alex Cappa to an ankle injury. And last week in the Wild Card Game against the Ravens, they lost left tackle Jonah Williams with a knee problem. The Bengals will probably only start two-fifths of their starting offensive line. They might get away with starting Hakeem Adeniji or Jackson Carman or Max Scharping… but all of them? That’s just too much to survive against the Buffalo defense – even with Joe Burrow at the wheel. Greg Rousseau, Shaq Lawson, Ed Oliver, DaQuan Jones, AJ Epenesa, Boogie Basham, Tim Settle — the Bills just have too much talent up front. And they can supplement that group with Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds streaming for the ball.
49ers vs. Cowboys: The Shanahan Show Continues
Brock Purdy barely broke a sweat during the 49ers offensive blast against the Seahawks last week. Of his 30 pass attempts, only TWO were thrown in a tight time, according to NFL.com’s Next Gen Stats. That’s the Kyle Shanahan effect. San Francisco’s offensive mastermind can plan players as well or better than any coach in the NFL, and with Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle and Elijah Mitchell, he has one of the best skill squads in the NFL. with which to work. It’s borderline unfair. The Dallas defense shut down Tampa Monday night, but it’s still understaffed in the secondary and could have a somewhat skinny Jayron Kearse after he suffered a knee injury against the Bucs. The bet here is that San Francisco finds a way to take advantage of that group at the back.