#5 Tennessee Titans (9-7) vs #4 Kansas City Chiefs (10-6):
Prediction: The Titans managed to sneak their way into the playoffs for the first time since 2008 after a victory last week against Jacksonville. Tennessee have struggled a ton on both sides of the ball this season, ranked 23rd in pass offense and 25th in pass defense. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota will start his first career playoff game looking to overcome his disappointing regular season of 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. The Titans defense got torched two weeks ago by Todd Gurley, so it really would not be too surprising to see Chiefs rookie running back Kareem Hunt who led the league in rushing to do similar. The Chiefs are hot right now, and the temperature of the game definitely will not be in Kansas City, which should benefit the Chiefs and contribute towards their home-field advantage.
Final Score: Chiefs over Titans 23-10
#6 Buffalo Bills (9-7) vs #3 Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6):
Prediction: This game will feature two very similar style teams known for their tough defense and running the ball. Their playing styles are built for cold-weather playoff football, but the game will be played in the warm weather of Jacksonville, Florida. This game is very intriguing because neither teams have playoff experience, and didn’t have very high expectations before the season. Bills running back LaSean McCoy’s playing status remains unclear, but either way Jacksonville is the better team, and is going to win this game by relying heavily on Leonard Fournette and their defense.
Final Score: Jaguars over Bills 27-13
#6 Atlanta Falcons (10-6) vs #3 Los Angeles Rams (11-5):
Prediction: The Rams are back in the playoffs led by the NFL’s youngest head coach (31) Sean McVay, whose developed a new dynamic offensive system in his first year thats translated into tremendous success. McVay has developed QB Jared Goff from a potential bust to a very efficient passer with 28 touchdown and 7 interceptions, and Todd Gurley into an MVP candidate (2,093 total yards, 19 TD’s). The Atlanta Falcons are seeking revenge after last season’s heartbreaking Super Bowl loss, and will have to do so all on the road as the sixth seed. The Falcons struggled throughout the majority of the season, but have began to started regaining some momentum, and carry the perfect revenge narrative to make a Super Bowl run. Although the revenge narrative for Atlanta is there, I expect the Rams to pull through in front of the LA fans in their first home playoffs game there since 1979.
Final Score: Rams over Falcons 33-17
#5 Carolina Panthers (11-5) vs #4 New Orleans Saints (12-4):
Prediction: This will be the third matchup, and second week in a row that these NFC South rivals will be dueling it out. The two prior meetings both resulted in Saints victories, winning by the scores of 34-13 and 31-21. It is always tough for a team to win three games in a season against the same opponent, but it’s going to be very tough to take down this New Orleans team. The Saints have the perfect balance on offense of passing and rushing, as well as the playoff experience of the duo of Drew Brees and Sean Payton, which will make it very difficult to defeat this team. Carolina is a tough team and also has some playoff experience, but I think there is a reason why the Saints have won both games, and that is they are just simply the better team.
Final Score: Saints over Panthers 41-27