The best weekend of the NFL is here, the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Two games on Saturday and two on Sunday, a weekend where a permanent imprint can be left on one’s couch.
And Metro got one NFL general manager to chime in with his thoughts on this weekend’s games. He spoke anonymously – “probably best if you don’t run a name with this” – and cautioned about his picks “don’t bet the college fund for the kids on what I’m saying” – but this general manager sits with his team out of the playoffs and eager to watch the Divisional Round.
So without further adieu, here is one GM’s takes on the playoffs:
Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles
“The Falcons did a nice job on the road last week, I like what they showed. You have an offense that hasn’t clicked as much as some had hoped this year perhaps rounding into form. There’s a quarterback with plenty of playoff experience in Matt Ryan.
“Since losing in early December (to the Minnesota Vikings), they are 4-1 including last weekend’s Wild Card win. That is a team that is clicking at the right time, no? There’s always one team who makes a deep run from a lower seed. I think Atlanta could be that team this year. And given the Eagles questions on offense, the whole [Nick] Foles situation and some shaky secondary play, this is an upset game in the making.
“I think Atlanta wins here. I think they make it to the Super Bowl to be honest.”
Tennessee Titans at the New England Patriots
“You don’t bet against New England at home, in the playoffs. You have a rested team, a team of veterans who needed this week away.
“And this is a Titans team that if they can’t run the ball will struggle to move as an offense. New England isn’t great against the run though. I don’t see anyway that the Patriots don’t win this game. Upsets happen but this one to me, this is a ‘lock’ type of game.
“I know we’re on the phone but I did airquotes around ‘lock.’ Nothing is guaranteed in the NFL but this game will be tough for the Titans. I don’t see them winning up there.”
Jacksonville Jaguars at the Pittsburgh Steelers
“Talk about a game that is important for [Blake] Bortles. This is a quarterback who rather unfairly has shouldered a lot of criticism.
“But this isn’t an easy match-up for them. I know the Jags have a great defense but the Steelers are multiple, truly a balanced offense. They have playoff experience, the weather will favor them, the homefield advantage is big. That place gets loud and rowdy for playoff games.
“There is also the whole emotion around Ryan Shazier. This team will be ready. Jacksonville didn’t show me a whole lot offensively last week. Against a unit that can move the ball I think they’ll have to play perfect on offense – and I don’t think they have that ceiling. Pittsburgh wins and everyone gets the AFC match-up we’ve wanted for the past six weeks to see.”
New Orleans Saints at the Minnesota Vikings
“Defense wins championships and that’s why the Vikings were No. 2 in the NFC. This is a top-two defense in the league in nearly every category. They fly to the ball. They really built that thing up.
“But Drew Brees showed us last week how special of a quarterback he is. He did it without a true running game too. I think it is two road teams in the NFC this weekend to advance.”