This weekend, like many NFL Playoff weekends before it, was a roller coaster for many fans. From unsurprising wins to shootout thrillers, the four divisional round games were a dream for most sports fans. I’ve already published a review of the Eagles/Falcons game in another blog. Click here for that.
It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t easy, but the Eagles edged the Falcons in the early game on Saturday with a final score of 15-10 to claim their spot in the NFC Championship, next weekend.
PHI: 15 ATL: 10
QB: N. Foles 23/30, 246 yards QB: M. Ryan 23/36, 210 yards, 1 TD
K: J. Elliott 3/3, 9 pts. WR: J. Jones 9 rec, 101 yards
In the second game on Saturday, the Patriots took care of business. After trailing 7-0 in the first quarter, the Patriots went on a 35-0 run and won handily 35-14. With a spot in the AFC Championship game for the seventh straight season, the Patriots, led by Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, are continuing their legacy.
NE: 35 TEN: 14
QB: T. Brady 35/53, 337 yards, 3 TD QB: M. Mariota 22/37, 254 yards, 2 TD
WR: D. Amendola 11 rec, 112 yards WR: E. Decker 9 rec, 85 yards
The second day of the weekend proved more exciting, starting with a shootout in Pittsburgh. Down 21-0 early, the Steelers battled back to a one possession game with just over two minutes left. After the TD run by Le’Veon Bell, the Jaguars drained the clock down to 1:45 and got a FG out of the drive, making the score 45-35. In the ensuing drive, the Steelers went 75 yards in 1:44 to make it 45-42, but it was too little, too late. The Jaguars escaped with the W and are moving onto the AFC Championship game next weekend against the Patriots.
JAX: 45 PIT: 42
QB: B. Bortles 14/26, 214 yards, 1 TD QB: B. Roethlisberger 37/58, 469 yards, RB: L. Fournette 109 yards, 3 TD 5 TD, 1 INT WR: A. Brown 7 rec, 132 yards, 2 TD
The last game of the weekend was one that will be remembered for years. In a battle for a spot against the Eagles in the NFC Championship, the Vikings and Saints left it all on the field. With huge performances from their star receivers, both teams made the game a thriller, down to the last second. Down 17-0 at half, the Saints battled back and took a 21-20 lead after an Alvin Kamara TD with 3:01 left in the game.
The next three minutes led to THREE lead changes. The Vikings drove 40 yards in 1:32 and kicker Kai Forbath connected on a 53 yard FG with 1:34 remaining. The Saints took the ensuing drive 50 yards in 1:04 to set up a 43 yard FG by Wil Lutz. Down 24-23 with just 10 seconds left on the clock, Case Keenum delivered a strike to Stefon Diggs around the 35 yardline with hopes of getting in field goal range. Diggs somehow managed to elude all three defenders attempting to tackle him and sprinted into the endzone with 0:00 left on the clock. Game. The Viking escaped the Saints with an incredible 29-24 win.
MIN: 29 NO: 24
QB: C. Keenum 25/40, 318 yards, 1 TD QB: D. Brees 25/40, 294 yards, 3 TD
WR: S. Diggs 6 rec, 137 yards, 1 TD WR: M. Thomas 7 rec, 85 yards, 2 TD
Let’s compare my predictions for the Divisional games to the actual final scores:
NE vs. TEN:
Prediction: 34-13 (Patriots)
Reality: 35-14 (Patriots)
JAX vs. PIT:
Prediction: 17-15 (Steelers)
Reality: 45-42 (Jaguars)
MIN vs. NO:
Prediction: 34-28 (Vikings)
Reality: 29-24 (Vikings)
Overall, I feel happy with my predictions. I got two of the three games right and was close on both those scores. In the JAX/PIT game, I predicted either a low scoring affair, or a shootout. We got a shootout, so I feel good about that prediction too.
If this weekend is any indication of how the 2017 NFL Playoffs will continue, we’re all in for an exciting weekend of Conference Championships. Look for a blog covering a preview and predictions of the AFC/NFC Championship games in the next few days.