NFL Weekly Predictions: Divisional
January 12, 2017 by Jeffrey Boswell • Print Story •
Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.
Seattle @ Atlanta (-4½)
The Seahawks advanced to the divisional round with a commanding 26-6 win over the Lions. Thomas Rawls rushed for 161 yards and a touchdown, breaking Marshawn Lynch's playoff record of 157 yards.
"Thomas had a number of big runs," Pete Carroll said, "but he didn't have a defining run like Marshawn's 'Beastquake.' Up until the wild card game, our rushing attack hasn't evoked memories of earthquakes, tornados, or hurricanes, but it has been nothing short of a natural disaster.
"Here in Seattle, we're used to being one of the best rushing teams. We only ranked 25th in rushing during the regular season. A healthy Rawls takes us from 'Decreased Mode' back to 'Beast Mode.'
"As for the Falcons, we know we'll have to bring our A-game on defense. Ryan has more weapons at his disposal than Greg Hardy. Ryan is a consummate professional, and has one of the strongest arms in the league. He's 'pro-gun,' so to speak. My defense is anything but conservative, so we believe in the right to restrict the right to bear arms. And my defensive backs, especially, believe in the right to bar arms."
The Falcons boasted the NFL's highest scoring offense, averaging 33.8 points per game on their way to an 11-5 record. One of those losses was a controversial 26-24 loss in Seattle.
"We plan to light up scoreboards all the way to the Super Bowl in Houston," Matt Ryan said. "There, you'll see us hoist the Lombardi Trophy, and the 'score-onation' of the NFL champions will be complete.
"We'll certainly have revenge on our minds when the Seahawks come to town. We think they got away with a lot of tugging and grabbing when we played in the regular season. It was like we were playing the Clemson University defense, whose fight song is 'Hold That, Tiger.' When we last faced, the officiating crew missed a blatant pass interference call on Richard Sherman late in the game. Replays clearly showed that Sherman interfered with Julio Jones, which left the officials with egg, and 'PI,' on their faces."
Falcons win, 26-23.
Houston @ New England (-15½)
Houston's No. 1-ranked defense harassed Connor Cook into 3 turnovers, and Brock Osweiler passed for a touchdown and rushed for another as the Texans beat the Raiders, 27-14.
"What can you say about our defense?" Bill O'Brien said. "I'll tell you what. You can say, 'You guys can play better, because you just allowed two touchdowns to an offense led by a third-string rookie quarterback.' And Tom Brady is no Connor Cook. And I'm sure Tom's okay with that.
"I'm sure Romeo Crenel will have the defense well prepared. He's got one of the NFL's best linebackers in Whitney Mercilus. Whitney is proving himself to be one of the best linebackers in the game, and the leader of our defense. He's doing his Ray Lewis impersonation, and he's absolutely killed it.
"I was proud of Brock. He probably played his best game as a Texan. In other words, he saved his best for last. Let's just hope he doesn't save his least for next.
"When you're playing the Patriots, you have to be prepared for anything and everything. Like deflated balls, or secret video, or snow, or badly-interpreted NFL rules in the snow. I've instructed Osweiler that in case of any fumble, he should yell 'Tuck Rule!' and immediately apologize to Charles Woodson."
The Patriots are the No. 1 seed in the AFC and heavily favored to beat the Texans and advance to the AFC title game for the sixth straight year.
"That's an unprecedented run of success," Tom Brady said. "And speaking of 'runs of success,' LeGarrette Blount led the NFL with 18 rushing touchdowns. LeGarrette is 250 pounds, or roughly 113 kilos, of pure power. He can't be tackled by just one defender. It sometimes takes two, even three defenders, or one lab technician, to bring him down.
"There's nothing easy about facing the Texans. In fact, the hardest thing about facing the Texans is making statements like the previous while keeping a straight face. We certainly won't underestimate them. I'm of the mindset that we're evenly matched, and we'll prove that when we 'level' them."
Former Patriot nose tackle Vince Wilfork serves as Houston captain for the opening coin toss. At midfield, Wilfork greets the Patriot captains, whose combined weight roughly equals that of the massive 325-pound man. Just for an instance, time stands still, as the "Patriot Way" meets the "Patriot Weigh."
Houston wins the coin toss and elects to defer, strategizing that their best chance to win lies in keeping their offense off the field as much as possible. All 11 members rub Wilfork's muffin top for good luck, and it apparently works, at least briefly, as the Texans force a punt after six plays. Osweiler throws an interception on Houston's first play from scrimmage, and it's downhill from their.
Patriots winm 27-9.
A jubilant Brady shocks the Gillette Stadium crowd when he appears to go gangster and pulls out a jammie and aims it at the crowd. Alas, it turns out to just be a pair of Under Armor pajamas, and Brady presents to gift to a lucky fan holding a "Free Tom Brady Pajamas" sign.
Pittsburgh @ Kansas City (-2½)
Ben Roethlisberger threw 2 touchdowns passes to Antonio Brown, and Le'Veon Bell rushed for 167 yards and 2 scores as the Steelers cruised to a 30-12 win over the Dolphins. The win was somewhat soured by a right foot injury suffered by Ben Roethlisberger later in the contest.
"This was Le'Veon's first playoff game," Mike Tomlin said, "and he broke Franco Harris' franchise playoff rushing record of 157 yards. That pretty much makes Le'Veon Steeler royalty, and I'm guessing he won't mind being called 'your high-ness.'
"Maybe I should have pulled Big Ben when the game was well in hand. That was a strategic error on my part, which is one of many, according to Terry Bradshaw. Instead of saying I was a 'cheerleader' guy, maybe the right choice of words would have been to say my coaching ability is 'crippling.'
"Ben's foot is a little sore, but it won't keep him from playing. He refuses to submit to pain. Sure, Ben's suffered more injuries than anyone else on this team, and tolerates inflammation and swelling on a regular basis. Ask anyone, they'll tell you Big Ben is the most swollen member of this team.
"Our linebackers coach Joey Porter was arrested for assaulting a doorman at a Pittsburgh bar on Sunday night. Joey was trying to get into the bar but never made it. Apparently, the doorman said 'Outside, linebacker.'"
The 12-4 Chiefs enjoyed a week off to rest and recuperate for what they hope is a long playoff run. A win over the Steelers will put the Chiefs in the AFC title game for the first time since 1994.
"That Chiefs team was quarterbacked by none other than Joe Montana," Andy Reid said. "I'm not asking Alex Smith to be like Joe Montana; I would never ask anyone to wear Skechers, for Christ's sake. I just want Alex to be himself. But Alex would prefer not to be reminded of a quarterback with any connection to San Francisco. Ironically, Alex was forced to sit for a quarterback who refused to stand.
"This game will likely be decided by big plays. And I think we have a difference-maker in Tyreek Hill. While Tyreek has problems at home, the Steelers will have problems on the road. He once ran a 4.29 40-yard dash. That's fast! And I don't use the word 'fast' loosely. In fact, I don't use it at all. You'd never guess it, but I've never 'fast-ed' in my life."
Chiefs win, 27-23.
Green Bay @ Dallas (-4)
The Packers shook off a slow start and roared back to smash the Giants 38-13 at Lambeau Field to advance to face the Cowboys. Aaron Rodgers threw 4 touchdown passes, 3 to Randall Cobb.
"We'll enjoy this for a day," Mike McCarthy said, "then we'll start preparing for Dallas. If Aaron wants to celebrate on a boat, he has my blessing. But who needs a boat when you can walk on water?
"And speaking of miracles, Aaron threw another Hail Mary touchdown. He's achieved god-like status here in Green Bay. Heck, there are people in town who approach Aaron and ask him if they can be 'saved.' And you can't doubt his ability to oblige them. In fact, I know a head coach and a defensive coordinator whose jobs can vouch for his powers.
"I hear Odell Beckham, Jr. was inconsolable after the loss. All I can say is if you cry me a river, I'll party in a boat on that river. Beckham may never set foot on a boat again. He went from on the boat to under the bus.
The Cowboys will look for a repeat of their Week 6, 30-16 win over the Packers in Green Bay, where Dak Prescott passed for 3 touchdowns and fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 157 yards.
"The Packers are a different team now," Jason Garrett said. "That game took place well before Aaron Rodgers made his famous 'Run the table' proclamation. That was back when even a table could run on the Packers.
"We just have to play our game. That's means controlling the line of scrimmage with our massive offensive line. Those guys' average weight is 317 pounds. That's a load, or in the case of Nate Newton, a car load. Where's that car going? Probably to Randy Gregory's house."
During FOX's pre-game show, State Farm debuts a new commercial starring Rodgers, who urges viewers to make sure they are properly insured. Rodgers then properly ensures Packers fans that he'll singlehandedly deliver a win. But the Cowboys have other ideas, namely the notion that you can run the ball for touchdowns in the red zone.
Dallas wins, 31-23.