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NFL Playoff Predictions

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NFL Playoff Predictions

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The NFL Playoffs are finally upon us, and the field couldn’t be better. There are a plethora of great storylines, and the teams all have talent. It’s the wild-card round, so you won’t see the dominant teams like Los Angeles, Kansas City, or New Orleans, but nevertheless, there’s definitely many things to take a look at.

 

Colts @ Texans

Both teams come into this game having seen each other twice in the regular season. In those matchups, they each took one game, each winning their game by a measly three points. This game will come down to one big question. Can the Colts protect Andrew Luck? Their offensive line has been stellar, and the return of Ryan Kelly from injury should be a boost to that group. The Texans defense is good against the pass, ranking 18th in Football Outsiders DVOA pass defense rankings, but that’s largely because of their ability to rush the passer. Clowney and Watt are two powerful forces inside, ones that could change this game. The Colts are going to be able to pressure Deshaun Watson, the Texans offensive line couldn’t stop a nosebleed. Watson, however, has a greater ability than Luck to operate on the move, he has more experience. Luck is accustomed to having some amount of time this year, and with that offensive line, he should be able to. The Texans are incredible against the run, first in rush defense DVOA, so this game is going to be squarely on the shoulders of Luck and the hands of T.Y Hilton, who’s a Texans killer. His stats in two games against Houston this year: 13 receptions for 314 yards. They can’t guard him, so expect Frank Reich and the Colts to knock off the Texans. I just don’t see anyway that the Texans, with that putrid offensive line and average secondary, can succeed in this game.

Pick: Indianapolis Colts 27-21

 

Seahawks @ Cowboys

This is my favorite game of the first round. Seattle shouldn’t be this good. It’s a testament to Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll, who have got this team back to the playoffs in a year that many expected them to be bad. On the other sideline, Jason Garret saved his job with a five game winning streak but that can largely be attributed to the stellar play of his defense. The teams played each other back in Week 3, but a lot has changed, The Cowboys acquired Amari Cooper, what many say is the move that sparked that aforementioned winning streak and have played much better since. They have numerous holes, primarily, at quarterback. I don’t see Dak Prescott as an above-average quarterback. Too often, he misses wide-open throws and you can’t have that happen if you want to knock out teams in the playoffs. Big question for this game: Can the Cowboys limit Russell Wilson from playing outside the pocket? If you keep your rush lanes and contain the pocket, forcing Wilson to play in the pocket, he’s still a great player who can beat you. However, when he moves out of the pocket, you might as well pack up your bags and go home because he’s either launching a pass to one of his deep threats (Tyler Lockett or Doug Baldwin) or he’s running for a big game. Can the Dallas linebackers and pass-rushers contain Wilson? Nobody has recently, so I don’t expect it to happen. On the other side, can the Seahawks stop Zeke? They’re a below-average in rush defense, so he may have a big day. The league however, is moving towards the pass, so I’m taking the team with the better signal-caller.

Pick: Seattle Seahawks 31-27

 

Chargers @ Ravens

The Chargers can win the Super Bowl. Their offense is so dynamic, with Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, and Mike Williams. That’s without mentioning Melvin Gordon or Hunter Henry, both of whom may play in the game. Their defense is solid, with two great pass rushers (Bosa and Ingram) and solid defensive backs. I would be remiss however, if I didn’t mention the two rookies in the game. Derwin James should be the DROY, he just makes so many plays, with 3.5 sacks and 3 interceptions from the safety position. Lamar Jackson has changed the Ravens offense. They are the hardest team to gameplan for, running a college option offense that runs with brutal efficiency. IF he’s able to break a few big plays or open those holes up for Gus Edwards, Baltimore can take this game from a good-but-not-great Chargers run-defense. However, Jackson, for all his strengths, isn’t a consistent passer, and is still a rookie. I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes one or two costly mistakes in this game. The Ravens defense is legit, with Mosley, Weddle, Smith, Humphrey, and Jefferson all playing as above-average defenders. Philip Rivers has famously not been good in the playoffs, if he struggles in this game, the Ravens could sneak it out,. However, I’m betting on the father of 7 to get his team to the next round, helped by a couple of Lamar Jackson interceptions.

Pick: Los Angeles Chargers 28-14

 

Eagles @ Bears

I have no doubt in the Bears. I don’t see a way they lose this game against an injured Nick Foles. Chicago’s offense isn’t great, but it’s very creative and could confuse Philly’s defense. Tarik Cohen is a huge mismatch against any linebacker, and I don’t expect a limited Jordan Hicks to be able to match up with him. The Philadelphia secondary isn’t very good outside of Malcolm Jenkins, look for Mitchell Trubisky to hit Allen Robinson or Taylor Gabriel on a few deep routes during the game. Trubisky is an absolute enigma to me. I know that he’s not that good right now, a glorified game manager who was probably drafted too high. I don’t know what his ceiling is, but for now, he does just enough for the Bears to be good. He’s accurate enough to make the throws head coach Matt Nagy schemes open for him but don’t expect him to throw with a great deal of precision or anticipation. He is mobile enough to extend plays, but not enough to be a threat as a runner. All-in-all he’s just good enough to be an average quarterback. Fortunately, the Bears defense is absolutely phenomenal. Khalil Mack is so good, with 12.5 sacks on the year. Inside, Akiem Hicks is dominant. Nick Foles is going to be clutching his ribs as he goes home. Last year’s magic won’t be repeated again.

Pick: Chicago Bears 24-10

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About the Writer
Varun Shankar, Staff Reporter

Varun Shankar is a junior at Dominion High School. He has always wanted to be a journalist, largely because of its writing focus. His love of sports...

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NFL Playoff Predictions