With the conclusion of the wild-card video games, the playoff discipline was lowered to eight groups. The Tremendous Bowl is simply two wins away!
Let’s reset the sector, breaking down the divisional weekend video games with early projections from ESPN’s Soccer Energy Index (FPI).
Bounce to a matchup:
IND-KC | LAC-NE
PHI-NO | DAL-LAR
Saturday, Jan. 12 | Four:35 p.m. ET | NBC | Arrowhead Stadium
Early FPI projection: Kansas Metropolis, 71.7 %
Colts’ greatest probability to win: Run the ball the way in which they did of their wild-card win over the Houston Texans. Houston was the third-best run protection within the league within the common season, permitting a mean of 82.7 rush yards per sport, however the Colts ran for 200 yards of their 21-7 victory Saturday. Kansas Metropolis was the 27th-best run protection within the league within the common season, permitting a mean of 132.1 rush yards per sport. If Marlon Mack, who had a franchise-record 148 yards towards Houston, and the Colts’ line can run the ball the way in which they did within the wild-card spherical, they could find a way to management the sport and preserve the ball out of Patrick Mahomes’ arms.
FPI probabilities to make the Tremendous Bowl
Chiefs’ greatest probability to win: Actually, there are all types of doable solutions right here: Discover a approach to get strain on Andrew Luck, avoid the sorts of expensive defensive penalties which have harm all of them season, shield Mahomes and let him do his factor. However an important a part of this sport for the Chiefs may be psychological. Andy Reid’s previous playoff failures (11-13 file in playoffs) are an unlucky a part of his in any other case sterling legacy, and the reminiscence of final season’s 18-point dwelling collapse towards the Titans remains to be recent. The Chiefs have been the higher workforce all season and want to play prefer it.
Stat to know: The Colts allowed a league-low 18 sacks within the common season (and none Saturday). However the Chiefs’ protection tied for the league lead with 52 sacks within the common season. One thing’s bought to give, and the sport might be determined by how that is resolved.
Backside line: The one quarterback who threw extra landing passes this season than the Colts’ Luck (39) was the Chiefs’ Mahomes (50). Each of those groups are able to explosive performs downfield, however with Colts wideout T.Y. Hilton battling an ankle harm, the Chiefs must be the extra explosive workforce on this matchup. Indianapolis’ spectacular defensive entrance goes to have to play in addition to it has all season to each confuse and include Mahomes. Nobody has completed that every one season.
Sunday, Jan. 13 | 1:05 p.m. ET | CBS | Gillette Stadium
Early FPI projection: New England, 62.1 %
Chargers’ greatest probability to win: Generate strain with their entrance 4. The sensible (although considerably injury-driven) technique Sunday by Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to use seven defensive backs towards a run-heavy Baltimore Ravens workforce appeared to confuse and rattle quarterback Lamar Jackson. However the primary motive it labored was the way in which the Chargers’ line of defense was in a position to get to Jackson. Seven defensive backs is not doubtless to work towards the Patriots, but when Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram & Co. can transfer Tom Brady off his spot, that is traditionally the way in which to beat New England within the postseason.
Patriots’ greatest probability to win: A wholesome Rob Gronkowski. The bye week is vital for groups, partly as a result of it permits their banged-up and injured gamers further time to heal. Which may not be extra essential for anybody than it’s for the Patriots’ tight finish (47 catches, 682 yards, three TDs), who hasn’t regarded like his dominant self for many of this season. The Chargers shall be a professional problem for New England on either side of the ball, however a wholesome Gronk is the type of matchup-buster who could make a distinction in an in depth sport. Can he discover that outdated Gronk magic in time for yet another run?
|Chiefs -6||Patriots -Four.5|
|Saints -9||Rams -7|
Stat to know: It has been six years since a street workforce won a playoff sport in Foxborough, however the Chargers are Eight-1 on the street this season, together with wins at Seattle, Pittsburgh, Kansas Metropolis, Denver and Baltimore (plus abroad in London). They journey properly, they usually do not thoughts the absence of home-field benefit. In any case, they do not actually get that at dwelling.
Backside line: This has been one of many extra under-the-radar Patriots groups in years. The story all season has been about their weaknesses, whether or not they’re nearing the tip, and so forth. Positive, the Chargers (12-Four) truly had a greater regular-season file than New England (11-5), but right here the Patriots are, coming off a bye and enjoying at dwelling in January, as common. The Chargers have what it takes, personnel-wise, to win this sport. However so long as Invoice Belichick is on the sideline and Brady is behind heart, nobody goes to really feel comfy on this matchup till the scoreboard says they’ve won.
Sunday, Jan. 13 | Four:40 p.m. ET | Fox | Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Early FPI projection: New Orleans, 77.Four %
From the wild-card spherical by means of Tremendous Bowl LIII, ESPN.com has you coated. Take a look at the full playoff image and protection on every workforce.
Eagles’ greatest probability to win: Maintain changing third downs. The primary 14 weeks of the season, the Eagles transformed a middling 38.9 % of their third downs. The ultimate three weeks of the common season, with Nick Foles beginning rather than an injured Carson Wentz, they had been fourth within the league, at 48.Eight % on third down. In Sunday’s comeback victory in Chicago, the Eagles transformed 5 of 12 third downs — not spectacular however ok towards the league’s greatest protection, particularly while you convert a fourth-and-goal when down by 5 with a minute left within the sport. Foles appears to be like very comfy in these conditions.
Saints’ greatest probability to win: Get some strain on Foles. He’s Four-Zero the previous two postseasons, and he may simply be unbeatable this time of 12 months. However a part of the rationale Foles performed so properly the latter a part of the season after Wentz bought harm was the efficiency of the Eagles’ offensive line. It was an elite safety unit this time final 12 months, and it has proven the flexibility to be that once more. Cameron Jordan & Co. want to dictate some issues up entrance, make Foles uncomfortable and check out to pressure him into some errors.
Stat to know: The Saints allowed a mean of 84 rush yards per sport the ultimate eight weeks of the season, the fifth-best determine within the league over that span. In that very same time, they allowed a mean of three.66 yards per keep on first down. The Eagles had been simply 24th within the league this season in yards per keep on first down, with a mean of Four.14. The Saints have an opportunity to put Foles in some third-and-long conditions if the Eagles cannot discover some speeding success on the early downs.
Backside line: The Tremendous Bowl champions are 9-1 the previous two seasons in December, January and February video games began by Foles. Final season, the Eagles made their run from the No. 1 seed, which means they’d a bye and a pair of dwelling video games earlier than the Tremendous Bowl. Beating the top-seeded Saints in New Orleans with out the good thing about a bye is a special type of problem. However then once more, so was beating the mighty Bears’ protection on the street in Chicago, they usually simply did that.
Saturday, Jan. 12 | Eight:15 p.m. ET | Fox | Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Early FPI projection: L.A. Rams, 76.Zero %
Cowboys’ greatest probability to win: Run the ball with Ezekiel Elliott. It sounds apparent, however on this case, it is value mentioning that the Rams allowed a league-worst common of 5.07 yards per rush this season. Elliott, the Cowboys’ star working again, averaged precisely 5.07 yards per keep on first downs alone. The important thing to the Cowboys’ offense is Elliott choosing up sufficient yardage on first and second downs to preserve the third downs quick or remove them solely. Dallas’ power on offense performs into the Rams’ weak spot on protection, and the Cowboys want to hammer Elliott on the Rams’ aggressive entrance to preserve Aaron Donald away from Dak Prescott and have an opportunity to management the sport.
All the pieces you want this week:
• 2018 playoffs protection »
• Full schedule » | Full standings »
• 2019 draft order: High 20 picks »
Extra NFL protection »
Rams’ greatest probability to win: A wholesome Todd Gurley. The Rams’ star working again sat out the ultimate two video games of the common season with a knee harm. The hope is the bye week helped him heal sufficient not simply to play on this sport but additionally to resume his function because the do-everything again on this offense. Dallas had the fifth-best run protection within the league this season, thanks to good linebacker play by Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. It is essential that Gurley contributes as a receiver out of the backfield to preserve the Cowboys’ protection sincere.
Stat to know: As good as Sean McVay’s Rams offense has been, it was solely 18th within the league this season when it comes to purple zone effectivity. The Rams transformed simply 57.5 % of their purple zone possessions into touchdowns. Solely three playoff groups had been worse in that division: the Ravens, the Texans and … the Cowboys, who had been a pitiful 29th within the league at 48 %.
Backside line: Coming off the bye and enjoying at dwelling clearly works within the Rams’ favor, as Dallas was simply Three-5 away from dwelling this season. The Cowboys aren’t doubtless to win a shootout towards the Rams, however they may make it attention-grabbing if they’ll gradual issues down with their run sport. It will be value discovering out whether or not the boldness enhance Prescott bought from profitable an in any other case meaningless Week 17 street sport towards the Giants carries ahead.