PREVIEW: NFL Divisional Spherical 2019

The eight finest groups within the league going head-to-head over one weekend with all the things on the road The divisional spherical of the NFL playoffs is likely one of the highlights of the sporting calendar, and this 12 months’s slate is the strongest in latest reminiscence. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS vs INDIANAPOLIS COLTS Saturday, 12 January @22:35 CET Arrowhead Stadium The Colts will look to get the bottom recreation going with Marlon Mack Credit score: AP You wouldn’t name it the unthinkable, however the Colts heading into Houston and knocking off the 11-5 Texans final week was form of a giant deal. Indy have been excellent (at the very least within the first half) in opposition to their bitter division rivals. Andrew Luck was lights out from the primary snap, ending with 222-yards and a pair of touchdowns within the 21-7 rout. For the Chiefs, the most important concern must be stopping T.Y. Hilton. The Texans made the error of enjoying man-to-man final week, leading to nothing greater than a measly 85-yard recreation for the star receiver. After all, over-committing to Hilton opens up the Eric Ebron choice, leaving Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton with some choices to make this week. That’s simpler mentioned than accomplished for Kansas Metropolis nevertheless, particularly when you think about the Chiefs have struggled all 12 months to cease the cross. The Chiefs ranked second in passing yards allowed through the common season, and even with per week off, plus home-field benefit, there’s no method they'll cease the likes of Hilton, Ebron, and even Marlon Mack for a complete 60-minutes. Patrick Mahomes is prepared for his first shot on the playoffs.Credit score: AP What the Chiefs do have although, is Patrick Mahomes. We’ve already seen unexperienced quarterbacks like Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson falter within the playoffs, however that is Mahomes’ calling card in entrance of what ought to be a raucous Arrowhead crowd. Even so, the Colts have the defence to cease the Chiefs. They compelled an agile quarterback like Watson into three sacks and a decide final week, disrupting the pocket in addition to silencing DeAndre Hopkins. What’s to say they'll’t do this once more in opposition to Mahomes and Tyreek Hill? Indianapolis Colts Kansas Metropolis Chiefs 2.7 1.four   LOS ANGELES RAMS vs DALLAS COWBOYS Sunday, 13 January @02:15 CET Los Angeles Coliseum The Cowboys have been decided to make issues fascinating of their 24-22 win over the Seahawks final week, however for the third time within the final 4 years, Dallas are by way of to the Divisional Spherical. Cowboys linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch can be key in stopping Todd Gurley on SaturdayCredit score: USA At present Reminiscences of 2016’s agonising loss to the Packers can be recent within the thoughts of Cowboys’ followers, but it surely’s price remembering simply how completely different this staff is. It’s additionally price mentioning that by the halfway level of the third quarter final week, operating again Ezekiel Elliott had rushed for extra yards than the Seahawks had whole offence. The Rams come into this one well-rested and able to make up for final 12 months’s 26-13 no-show in opposition to the Falcons. Los Angeles ranked second within the league in points-per-game through the common season, and with a now wholesome Todd Gurley to depend on, it’s no shock to see the Rams on the shorter odds enjoying at dwelling. Dallas do have one thing going for them although that maybe no different staff within the NFC can attest to: defence. The Cowboys did a fantastic job on the bottom final week in opposition to Seattle, limiting the Seahawks to 73-rushing yards and the lone landing. The Rams are going to wish Goff at his finestCredit score: AP That form of effort would go a good distance in opposition to a staff just like the Rams, however provided that Sean McVay’s facet doesn’t shoot themselves within the foot first. Within the last month of the season the Rams appeared misplaced on offence, and though they blew out the 49ers and the Cardinals to shut out the 12 months, back-to-back losses to the Bears and the Eagles, two NFC playoff finalists, leaves loads to be desired. With a 7-1 document, there’s no denying how robust the Rams have been at dwelling. However can they actually depend on their offensive line, a unit that allowed 33 sacks this season, to maintain Jared Goff upright within the pocket? We noticed how damaging the Cowboys will be after they dialed up the stress final week in opposition to Seattle, and with Goff’s accuracy woes on full show in latest weeks, this has upset written throughout it. Dallas Cowboys Los Angeles Rams Three.four 1.27   NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS vs LOS ANGELES CHARGERS Saturday, 13 January @19:05 CET Melvin Ingram celebrates sacking Lamar Jackson within the Chargers’ win over the Ravens final weekCredit score: AP Gilette Stadium This intriguing recreation between two basic AFC foes has New England because the four-point favourites in what may very nicely be their solely dwelling recreation of the 2019 playoffs. It’s a unique really feel so far as New England are involved this 12 months although, with many predicting the lengthy reign of the Brady-Belichick period near over. First up, the Chargers will take a crack following their nail-biting win over the Ravens within the Wild Card spherical. Los Angeles almost blew a 21-Three lead within the fourth quarter, however cooler heads prevailed, or ought to we are saying, Melvin Ingram’s strip-sack expertise. That’s precisely what must occur this week if the Chargers are to deal with the Patriots. LA, led by Ingram and Joey Bosa, have to rattle Tom Brady within the pocket, forcing him into throws which, given the state of New England’s receiving corp, ought to flip into 50/50 balls down-field. As we all know, the Patriots at dwelling are a unique beast. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is Zero-7 lifetime in opposition to Tom Brady, and with an additional week to dial up schemes, you’d be silly to again in opposition to Invoice Belichick on this one. Can Tom Brady pull off one in all his basic playoff performances on Sunday?Credit score: USA At present For New England to win they not solely want some Brady brilliance, but in addition a robust defensive effort. Groups like Pittsburgh paid the value after they missed Chargers’ broad receiver Keenan Allen through the common season – you'll be able to guess Belichick received’t make that mistake. Los Angeles Chargers New England Patriots 2.55 1.45   NEW ORLEANS SAINTS vs PHILADELPHIA EAGLES Sunday, 13 January @22:40 CET Mercedes Bens Superdome Name it luck or perhaps a miracle, Philly are proper again the place they began: within the underdog function and loving each minute of it. Large Nick vitality stormed Chicago final week as Foles and the Eagles held on for the narrowest of one-point wins over the Bears. It took a final second clunked area objective from kicker Cody Parkey, however you'll be able to’t low cost Foles’ resiliency on the game-winning drive simply two minutes prior. Nick Foles and Dallas Goedert have a good time their landing in opposition to the Bears final weekCredit score: AP Sitting fairly with the primary seed within the NFC, the Saints kicked again final week figuring out the trail to the Tremendous Bowl runs by way of them. The Saints and the Eagles did battle method again in Week 11, a recreation Sean Payton’s facet received comfortably 48-7. We now await the rematch, and though the Saints are well-rested, typically the bye week can do extra hurt than good. Are the Saints prepared for Doug Pederson’s high-tempo offence? And simply how can they silence Alshon Jeffery? Drew Brees recorded one other record-breaking season in New Orleans. Credit score: AP New Orleans will go into this recreation figuring out they've the sixth-best speeding assault to depend on, however in fact, it’s all concerning the air. The Eagles allowed the seventh-most passing yards through the common season, and similar to in Week 11, if Philly fail to double-team Michael Thomas, he’ll simply burn them for 90+ yards and a few factors as soon as once more.   There's one different stat price noting although: the Eagles ranked lifeless final in touchdowns scored as soon as an opposing staff reached the pink zone through the common season. That, matched up in opposition to the Saints’ high-scoring outfit, may pose just a few issues for New Orleans in the event that they get off to a gradual begin. Philadelphia Eagles New Orleans Saints Three.83 1.22