But can you trust Nick Foles to lead Philadelphia to victory? A touchdown thrown by Marcus Mariota to Eric Decker late in the fourth quarter sealed the Tennessee victory. Only five defenses faced a higher passing rate in the red zone this season, and no team left in the playoffs allowed a higher passing-touchdown rate inside the 20. Mariota, while good enough to defeat the Chiefs, won't be able to get by the Patriots' pass defense.
Defensively, the Titans finished the regular season ranked 21st according to the Football Outsiders DVOA charts, and while that puts them below average it also puts them well ahead of the Patriots for the season. Quarterback Tom Brady finished the regular-season as the third-most valuable quarterback per ESPN's Total Quarterback Rating and was instrumental in the team scoring a league-leading 2.6 points per drive, almost a point per drive more than the league average (1.8), and the 12th best scoring efficiency since 2002, the year the league expanded to 32 teams.
With Wild Card Weekend behind us, and it certainly lived up to its billing, the top seeds are set to return the field for the Divisional Round of the National Football League playoffs. 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. The Jaguars have the second-ranked defense in the league. Tennessee had to win in Week 17 to simply make the playoffs and, most likely, to save the job of head coach Mike Mularkey. With last season's offense largely intact, the Falcons have regressed sharply from 6.7 yards per play under Kyle Shanahan to 5.8 under Sarkisian. The Steelers' defense hasn't been the same since Ryan Shazier's injury, and the Jaguars can win outright if Blake Bortles avoids committing multiple turnovers. Just look at the names, and you know what to do. I think Derrick Henry will have another big day to control the clock and keep Tom Brady off the field.
As predicted, the Falcons took care of the young and inexperienced Los Angeles Rams, and they'll do so again this week in Philadelphia. And just like the Steelers pick, even if the Saints manage to win, Minnesota has a nice chance to lose but still cover. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles were resting, getting ready for their home game this week. This means that people are asking the question about who will win the Super Bowl. The Eagles, on the other hand, are on a steep decline. In this league, most teams can only advance as far as their quarterback can take them. But that tells us the value of Carson Wentz.
Jason: The Falcons caught a huge break, as the No. 1 seed in the NFC is playing without quarterback Carson Wentz, who was in the middle of a Pro Bowl caliber season. Against a unit that can move the ball I think they'll have to play flawless on offense - and I don't think they have that ceiling. I like the Saints on both sides of the ball, but is a squad that didn't finish the season playing its best. Brees' performance was the most impressive individual effort of the Wild Card round. However, the Vikings stand in the way, and won't be an easy task, especially in Minnesota.
Prediction: The Patriots will beat the Minnesota Vikings, the first home team in Super Bowl history, 23-20, in overtime.
In the NFC, three local boys reside on the Saints, where New Orleans travels to Minnesota to take on the Vikings Monday at 11:40 pm HST. While the Vikings' quarterback was Sam Bradford for that game, Case Keenum has come in and played at a borderline MVP level for long stretches.
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