The field for the divisional round of the 2018 NFL playoffs is set. There was an upset in each conference on Wild Card Weekend, and because of that we’ll be treated to two rematches next Sunday.
The matchups are as follows:
In the early game on Saturday, the No. 1 seed Philadelphia Eagles will play host to the No. 6 seed Atlanta Falcons in an NFC matchup. Atlanta, the owner of last year’s No. 1 offense, defeated this year’s No. 1 offense (Rams), and now must travel north to Philadelphia and take on the Carson Wentz-less Eagles. Philly stumbled a bit down the stretch of the season but still has a strong defense and running game, and home-field advantage.
On Saturday night, the No. 1 seed New England Patriots will host the No. 5 seed Tennessee Titans in an AFC matchup. The Pats are heavy favorites, but the Titans are coming off a monster comeback victory over the Chiefs in their first round matchup. Tennessee’s strength is running the ball, which is New England’s exact weakness on defense. The Titans will have to figure out a way to stop Tom Brady, though, if they want to come away with a win.
In the first of Sunday’s two rematches, the No. 2 seed Pittsburgh Steelers will host the No. 3 seed Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags beat up on the Steelers in Pittsburgh earlier this season, forcing Ben Roethlisberger into five interceptions in a 30-9 win. The Steelers got back on track later in the season and, after getting this week off, should be back at full strength with Antonio Brown returning from injury. Jacksonville will need a better performance from Blake Bortles than they got against the Bills in order to keep pace with the explosive Pittsburgh offense.
Late Sunday, the No. 2 seed Minnesota Vikings will host the No. 4 seed New Orleans Saints. These two teams opened the season against each other with the Vikings winning 29-19, but much has changed since that point. Case Keenum is Minnesota’s starter, not Sam Bradford. Adrian Peterson is no longer in New Orleans. The Saints defense is a force to be reckoned with. Alvin Kamara is a star. So is Adam Thielen. The Vikes and Saints are each strong on both sides of the ball, and whoever forces the other into more mistakes should come away victorious.