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NFL Weekly Picks: Divisional Round

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After an exciting regular season, here is how we stack up heading into the Divisional Round:

Here our the games, the spreads, and our verdicts:
With the Divisional round of the playoffs underway, there was not much debate between our panel in all but one game. That game was the Indianapolis Colts and the Kansas City Chiefs. We decided to base our picks off of the spread for each game and whether or not the home team will cover it.
Chiefs POV by Nick Desrosiers: The Kansas City Chiefs are coming into the playoffs with an superb 12-4 record, with their only loses coming at the hands of the Seahawks, Chargers, Patriots, and Rams. Their high-powered offense is stacked with 1st team all-pro athletes, including the likes of QB Patrick Mahomes, WR Tyreek Hill, TE Travis Kelce, and RG Mitchell Schwartz. Mahomes is going to be calling the shots in his first NFL playoff game, and it’s not going to be an easy task facing a solid Indianapolis front seven. The RB situation in Kansas City is moderately troubling, but I have confidence that Damien Williams (and possibly Spencer Ware) will do enough to keep the defense on edge. Flipping over to the other side of the ball, Kansas City’s defense has made strides from the beginning of the season. They have two star pass rushers in Dee Ford and Justin Houston, and their secondary has the ultimate safety blanket in Eric Berry. If Mahomes continues to play at a high level on Saturday afternoon, the Chiefs should have no problem taking down the six seed Indianapolis Colts.
Colts POV by Zach Malcolm: Indianapolis has become a team that others do not want to face. Last week, they defeated the favored Houston Texans handily. The Colts dominated in every facet of the game and now face the strongest offense in the league. Indy’s defense has only given up an average of 12.8 points over the last 4 games and their offense is firing on all cylinders. Quarterback Andrew Luck has been given all the time in the world recently because of his stout offensive line, and with time, it is almost a guarantee that a Pro Bowl QB such as Andrew Luck, will find an open receiver down the field. Kansas City has a tough time getting to the quarterback against all teams and their secondary is subpar, so I expect Andrew Luck to have a field day. Indy has a chance to outscore the best offense in the league with the help of their defensive studs Darius Leonard at linebacker, who lead the NFL in tackles and cornerback Pierre Desir, who shut down Deandre Hopkins for an entire game. If Desir can contain Tyreek Hill, then the rest of the defense can prepare for tight end Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes ability to get out of the pocket and run with it.
Cowboys at Rams by Blake Melnik: Going into Saturday, The NFC Divisional matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Rams is going to be a thriller that I believe will live up to the hype. While the Cowboys are on a hot streak right now, the Rams are still something serious, ranked second in the league. The fans are going to witness a battle at the running back position between Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley. Zeke tops Gurley in yards this season with an impressive 1,434 yards over Gurley’s 1,251. Gurley has the advantage at total touchdowns with 17 to 6. The battle at quarterback should also be interesting, as Dak Prescott has fired up his offense through playoffs, while Jared Goff comes in with higher yardage and touchdown totals. Although according to ESPN’s Matchup Predictor, the Rams take the Cowboys, winning by 57.4%, the Cowboys has proved people wrong and have shown that you can’t count them out till the games over. Even though the Rams have the home field advantage, I know this is going to be a tightly contested game…my final prediction is that Rams win only by a field goal.
Chargers at Patriots by Thomas Fougere: After traveling to Baltimore and beating the Ravens, the Chargers returned to LA to return to the east coast to play New England this Sunday. We saw Philip Rivers struggle to throw against the wind and Melvin Gordon look slower than usual with a new MCL sprain. The Chargers defense shined against the rookie, Lamar Jackson. The Ravens fumbled three times in the first half, with Lamar contributing two as well as being stripped on the last drive of the game to secure the Chargers’ win. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram were put on the inside and matched up against offensive guards and dominated them to put lots of pressure on the young quarterback.
The Chargers could look to deploy a similar plan against the Patriots to try and pressure Tom Brady, but the Patriots offensive line has been great at home. Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason are no pushovers at guard and could stand up to the attack. The best way to get pressure on Brady is through the middle because otherwise he can step up in the pocket and deliver his throws on time. However the Chargers rank fourth to last in 133 targets and receptions with 107 for pass catching backs. They give up the most yards against them with 973 yards along with that the eighth most touchdowns given up with eight. Look for James White to have a big day and possibly Rex Burkhead to get involved in the pass game. Sony Michel may be used more if the game turns into a grind-it-out type.
The Patriots defense should have good matchups with first team all-pro cornerback, Stephon Gilmore on Keenan Allen. A banged up Melvin Gordon should make him a little easier to defend, but Austin Ekeler is no slouch and could run on a Patriots run defense that hasn’t been great this year.
Overall, a Los Angeles team coming to New England to play in with a high of twenty five degrees will give the advantage to the Patriots. The stands will be packed with Patriots fans and maybe Philip Rivers’ numerous children, but not many Chargers fans will make the trip if any exist. Bill Belichick will have a good game plan in place to counteract whatever the Chargers typically go to. James White can have a big game against the Chargers’ weak defense against pass catching backs. The Patriots will be able to win this game outright or grind it out and take away any chance of winning for the Chargers. Patriots 28-17.
Saints vs Eagles by Brian Boyle: The spread of the Saints vs Eagles game is -8. The Saints, for obvious reasons, are favored to win this game. After finishing the year 13-3 the Saints are hot and ready to steamroll to the Super Bowl. Averaging 34.1 points at home will be pivotal to beating a tough Eagles team. Saints players, coaches, and team members will all have even extra motivation to win. This past week, Sean Payton walked into the locker room with their Super Bowl 44 trophy on top of $225,000 cash. Payton showed his players what they would receive if they won three games. Both of these teams playing their best brand of football will make for a great game. In the end, we feel the Saints will cover the spread and force an NFC Championship game in New Orleans.
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NFL Weekly Picks: Divisional Round