The Wild Card round has come and gone. Just like that, twelve teams is down to eight. This weekend, we open up the divisional round. There are some marquee matchup’s, and some not so stellar matchup’s. Here are my prediction’s for Saturday evening’s Divisional Round games.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Jacksonville Jaguars 1:05 PM on CBS
The Jaguars defense was the story of their Wild Card weekend game. There was very little offense from both teams in this 10-3 game. The Jags defense forced a pair of turnovers, and allowed 263 yards. Offensively, Jags quarterback Blake Bortles was the story, however not for his passing. Bortles’ legs stole the show as he ran for more yards than he threw for. Bortles ran ten times for 88 yards, and threw for 87 yards and a touchdown. Thanks to the defense, the Jags were able to sneak out of the Wild Card round with the win.
This weekend, the story won’t be the same. Jacksonville is going to need Bortles to play his best football, as they will be opposed by one of the most high powered offenses in the league. On top of Ben Rothlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and JuJu Smith Schuster, the Steelers are expected to have Antonio Brown back at full health. The key matchup to watch is going to be the high powered Steelers offense against the top ranked Jaguars defense.
For the Jags to win this game, Blake Bortles is going to need to show up. No matter how well the Jags defense plays, to beat the Steelers Bortles will need to improve his play. The Steelers defense is a top unit in football, and this will be no easy task for Bortles and the Jags.
Prediction: This Steelers offense is one of the top units in football. Look for rookie JuJu Smith Schuster to make a huge impact out of the slot. Blake Bortles poor QB play will once again hold the Jaguars back. Steelers 35, Jaguars 21
Minnesota Vikings vs New Orleans Saints 4:40 PM on FOX
New Orleans just squeaked past the Panthers in the Wild Card round, winning 31-26. The Saints were able to put up 31 points despite the duo of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara only running for a combined 45 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Drew Brees was the story, as he carried the offense, throwing for 326 yards and two touchdowns.
The last time the Viking and Saints played, the Vikings won 29-19. The Vikings offense was able to pick apart the Saints secondary, as Sam Bradford threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns. Look for wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen as well as tight end Kyle Rudolph to have big days again.
The Saints offense will have a tough task, as the Vikings defense is the top unit in football. Minnesota’s run defense shutdown the Saints running tandem in the last meeting. Drew Brees is going to have to beat the Vikings with his arm, as he did against Carolina.
Prediction: Despite both elite defenses, this is going to be a high scoring affair of two high powered offenses. A big defensive play from Harrison Smith will make the difference. Vikings 27, Saints 24
Check out my predictions for Saturday’s Divisional Round games here!