MDO’s Guide to the Divisional Playoffs

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Miles Bird

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Many say that the divisional round of the playoffs is often the most interesting one, and the way that these powerhouse teams are going, it is shaping up to be a playoff of the ages. With the constant shifting rules regarding the NFL, the metagame has evolved to a system that favors entertainment value over all else, so one thing for sure is that you don’t want to turn the channel this weekend.

 

On the AFC half of the NFL, the teams remaining are the potent Kansas City Chiefs, the methodical New England Patriots, the synergized Los Angeles Chargers, and the red hot Indianapolis Colts. Although the AFC is somewhat weaker than the other conference, there is a much deeper narrative structure to each organization, with storylines and action forming a very entertaining and brutal series of games.

 

Whereas on the NFC part, the teams remaining are the glorious New Orleans Saints, the quick-firing Los Angeles Rams, the good old-fashioned Dallas Cowboys, and the somehow-still-clinging-on Philadelphia Eagles. Many of the teams around the NFC are incredibly dominant in their individual conferences, where many of the organizations are constantly refining and adapting to their opponents.

 

With that being said, here is MDO’s quick preview to each of the games this weekend.

 

Game 1 – Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs:

 

The first game of the divisional round could arguably be the best given just how well these teams have been playing. Do not let the #1 and #6 seed indicate a game that will be one-sided. Both organizations have been playing so well throughout most of the season, as the Colts have quickly picked up steam with quarterback Andrew Luck’s powerful return.

 

The Colts have one of, if not the very best offensive line in the whole league right now, meaning that Luck’s pocket will be heavily enforced and the run game will shred through the Chiefs, who have on of the worst rush defenses in football right now.

 

The Chiefs, on the other hand, have a probable MVP in their quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who has a whopping 50 touchdowns this year so far. They will definitely be looking for the zone defense – which the Colts have been using all year to considerable success – for the big openings. Let there be no mistake, the Chiefs are unlike any other team on offense, and so the Colts will need to prepare their stratagems for this incredible matchup.

 

The key to both teams this game is the running of the football. As previously mentioned, the Chiefs running defense is their obvious weakness and so the Colts will most likely be looking to abuse this. However, if the Chiefs get an early lead, they somewhat diminish the threat of the running game, forcing Indy to make more throws.

 

Another important part of this game is that it is at the home field of the Kansas City Chiefs which is outdoors and incredibly loud, two factors that Andrew Luck has not shown great dominance in.

 

Overall, this game will certainly be the game to watch this weekend.


Game 2: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams

 

On the NFC side, this game will be a shootout for the Rams, as the Cowboys man-to-man defense and an impressive running game attempt to keep the game in their preferred style.

 

The key to the Cowboys upset victory would is by running the ball with their amazing running back, Ezekiel Elliott, to keep the Rams potent offense on the sidelines. The matchup of the Cowboys O-line and the Rams pass rushers will certainly determine this football game.

 

The Cowboys newer team is looking to cement themselves among one of the greats as the many Cowboy teams that have come before and in order to be the best you need to beat the best. Well, Dallas here is your opportunity to prove your abilities on the ball field.

 

The Rams, on the other hand, are definitely looking for a victory here in order to redeem themselves against the New Orleans Saints, who ended their undefeated streak during the regular season. However, they certainly can not sleep on this NFC East powerhouse.

 

Game 3: Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots

 

If there was a time, and a team, to upset the Patriots dynasty, this would be the game. The Chargers are a very complete team, specializing in their defense but also having an impressive offense to boot. Their quarterback, veteran Philip Rivers, has yet to beat New England which shows the chip on his shoulder as he tries to finally achieve the long sought after Super Bowl ring.

 

The Patriots this year have been shakier than years past for sure, although that is not to say they are not good. They are still ridiculously good. Bill Belichick’s methodical coaching abilities can tear apart any defense, and so it will be interesting to see how Tom Brady and his surgical precision can take advantage of any pass defense.

 

The Patriots were undefeated at home this year, and are undefeated against the Chargers, although this year is different. With good clock management and stepping it up on special teams, this game is certainly feasible for the LA Chargers.

 

Game 4: Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints

 

Unlike the first game, the #1 seed against the #6 seed will be very representative of this game. The Eagles, who beat the heavily favored Chicago Bears through seemingly raw fortune, are the definite underdogs. Despite winning the Super Bowl last year, the returning champs will be going up against arguably the best team in football this Sunday.

 

The Saints, led by the immaculate Drew Brees, a strong candidate for MVP this year, have shown next to no flaws and a very dominant play from each and every member of the team. Their offense has consistently torn through opposing teams and this Eagles team does not stand out in this play area.

 

However, if there was one thing we have learned throughout last year, and even last week, you should not sleep on the Eagles when they have the Nick Foles magic. Although in most aspects it should be a blowout, it’s the X factor of the Eagles which leaves fans anticipating a better game than it appears on paper.

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