Ladies and Gentlemen, we have arrived.
The 2017 regular season has come to a close and the 12 finalists for the Lombardi trophy have been announced with the final three slots being determined on Sunday.
As mentioned previously, the Bills have ended the league’s longest playoff drought with Cincinnati’s shocking win over Baltimore. This makes them the 3rd new team on the AFC side this postseason. On the other side, the entire NFC field was left out of the postseason last year except for the Atlanta Falcons.
None of this really means anything, but it’s fun to note. Let’s breakdown the matchups.
#5 Tennessee Titans (9-7) @ #4 Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)
Saturday, January 6th – 3:35pm EST (ESPN/ABC)
It’s hard to look at the performances of these two teams and realize that they own almost the same regular season record. Granted, the Chiefs had a really bad slide midway through the season, but even in their worst games it was hard to say they were worse than the Titans.
On Sunday the Titans will need their offense clicking on all cylinders to keep up with Kansas City.
Ryan (27-17) | Keenan (17-16) | Ryne (28-10) | Alex (34-17) | Joe (24-17)
#6. Atlanta Falcons (10-6) @ #3 LA Rams (11-5)
Saturday, January 6th – 8:15 PM EST (NBC)
With the way Atlanta’s offense has sputtered all season, it’s hard to believe that there’s only a one win difference between them and seeds 3-5, but it speaks to how well their defense has played this season. Atlanta has won every single game in which the Offense has mustered at least 20 points, while losing every game where they failed to reach that mark. They have a tough ask today against a Rams team that features Todd Gurley, a guy who should have every single bit of consideration for the 2017 MVP award. Can the Falcons limit Gurley’s production? Or will the Rams be heading to Minnesota for revenge?
Ryne* (38-10) | Joe (35-24)
Ryan* (23-17) | Keenan (28-24) | Brandon (30-24) | Alex (24-17)
*It should be noted that Ryne and Ryan are Saints and Falcons fans respectively and their predictions may reflect bias.
#6. Buffalo Bills (9-7) @ #3. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6)
Sunday, January 7th – 1:05 PM EST (CBS)
The Bills end their near two decade long playoff drought with a chance to face the best defense in football. If Shady McCoy is ready to play the Bills have as much of a chance as anybody, after all, the Jaguars have shown signs of weakness over the last few weeks. Blake Bortles has fallen back to earth ever since his big performance against Seattle last month. Can he right the ship and keep Jacksonville’s dream season alive? Or will the Bills be heading to Foxboro to see an old rival?
Ryan (31-14) | Keenan (31-20) | Brandon (20-13) | Alex (24-7) | Ryne (24-3)
#5. Carolina Panthers (11-5) @ #4. New Orleans Saints (11-5)
Sunday, January 7th – 4:25 EST (FOX)
In it’s 16 years of existence, the NFC South has never pitted rivals against each other in the postseason. This is despite the champion of the division making it deep into the playoffs in virtually ever year of its existence and often boasting the most competitive division in football (there was a run where no team had ever won the division in back to back years that was eventually broken by Carolina). The Saints have handled the Panthers in both their meetings this season, but with Carolina’s embarrassing loss to the Falcons, will they be looking to right wrongs? Or will the Saints go marching to the divisional round?
Joe (27-23) | Ryne (30-20) | Alex (35-28) | Brandon (31-20) | Ryan (35-16)