NFL Divisional Round Playoff Locks By Louis Joseph Milano
(6) Colts @ (1) Chiefs - Sat - 4:35 PM EST
The Kansas City Chiefs finished the 2018 regular season with a record of 12-4. They did this in one of the best divisions in football. This was the year of Patrick Mahomes. We saw him put up video game numbers all year, we saw him throw a no look pass and complete it and finally he went toe to toe with some of the most elite quarterbacks in the NFL and win.
What no one talks about however is that the Chiefs did not blow anyone out, not anyone decent. Their blowouts were over the Raiders, Cardinals and Bengals this year. Their average margin of victory was 2nd best in the NFL but those lopsided games against 3 of the NFL's worst teams are to blame for that.
Against legitimate competition they escaped with their lives or lost. Over the last six weeks of the season they were a pedestrian 3-3. What's most interesting is that, of the teams that remain in the playoffs the Chiefs have played 3 of them. They played the Chargers twice and split with them, lost to the Pats and lost to the Rams. Yeah, they are 1-3 this year to teams who are alive in the playoffs at this moment.
It's also worth noting the coach, Andy Reid. Reid is one of the best in the business and widely respected. However, Reid is not known for his playoff success. Reid is 11-15 for his career as a Head Coach. In case you are keeping track that is sub .500 and bad.
On the other side of the field is Andrew Luck who has played as good as you can expect any QB to play over the last two thirds of the year. In the last ten weeks Luck has gone for 21 Touchdowns and 8 Interceptions and the team has followed suit winning 9 of their last ten. I get it, the Chiefs were the story of the year in the NFL. The final chapter of that story plays out tomorrow. TAKE THE COLTS!
(4) Cowboys @ (2) Rams - Sat - 8:15 PM EST
The Cowboy victory over the Seahawks last week was my only loss for the weekend. This is because I overestimated the Seahawks this year, not because the Cowboys belong where they are. The Cowboys are damn lucky to be where they are.
The Cowboys play in the NFC East, one of the worst divisions in all of football if not the worst. The divisional as a whole was 31-33 for the year. Yeah, the entire division was 2 games under .500. The Cowboys feasted on this bad division beating the Giants both times they played them, the Eagles both times they played them and splitting with the Redskins. If you are keeping track that's 5 wins, which if my math is correct accounts for 50% of their 10 wins on the year.
If you go outside their division they had 1 win against an opponent of any note beating the Saints 13-10 in November. The other 4 Cowboy victories came over the Lions, Jaguars, Falcons and Buccaneers. Those teams were a combined 23-41 this year. MATH is fun.
The Rams for their part went 13-3 on the year. Like the Chiefs, the Rams showed signs of fatigue at the tail end of the year, either that or they let their foot off the gas. They lost 2 of their last 4 regular season games. Both losses however were against playoff teams, the Bears and the Eagles. The Rams strength of schedule is not way better than the Cowboys but they did win 13 games, can boast victories over the Chiefs and Chargers, have the better coach and the better QB. TAKE THE RAMS!
(5) Chargers @ (2) Patriots - Sun - 1:05 PM EST
The Patriots went 11-5 in the AFC East. The Pats won the division, as usual and are back in a familiar place. If the Patriots beat the Chargers on Sunday it will be their ninth straight home playoff win, ridiculous. Tom Brady is 2-0 against the Chargers in the playoffs and 6-2 lifetime against San Diego/LA in the regular season. The Pats do not lose in Foxborough. The Pats also have impressive wins against the Chiefs, Texans and Bears this year. Their big wins are easily balanced out however by their head scratching losses to the Dolphins, Steelers, Titans, Lions and Jaguars.
After all the talk about the Ravens defense going into the Wild Card game last week against the Chargers, it was the Los Angeles defense that was the story. They showed up and won that game for the Rams.
The Chargers ended up winning 12 games in one of the toughest divisions in football and out of division they took out the trash beating every single sub par, out of division opponent. They are 6-1 over their last 7 games (including Wild Card). New England's long term history (Brady era) in the playoffs, at home and against the Chargers says N.E. wins this game. I'm looking at the present, the Chargers are simply the better team this year and win a close one. TAKE THE BOLTS!
(6) Eagles @ (1) Saints - Sun - 4:35 PM EST
This to me is the easiest pick of all four games this weekend. My heart wants Foles and the Eagles and my head tells me something else. The Saints stormed through the NFL this year going 13-3. They were #1 in point differential which means they dismantled more than a handful of teams.
Their 3 losses this year were terrible ones to terrible teams. New Orleans lost to the Cardinals, Bucs and overrated Cowboys. However 2 of those three losses came in the first 5 weeks of the year. Since Week 5 they have lost one game and by only three points to the Cowboys. The Rams are home, Drew Brees is an all time elite QB whose a guaranteed Hall of Fame inductee and they have too many weapons. It's also worth noting these two teams played this year and the Saints won 48-7.
What do the Eagles have going for them? They have won 6 of their last seven games (including Wild Card win). I think Nick Foles is completely underrated. I believe he is an every week starter in this league. Finally, there is something special about this team. This is one of the few teams I look at from a gut standpoint and less of a statistical angle. Foles is special, their win last week looks like it was meant to happen and they seem to make big plays when it counts most. All that said, the Saints are too strong, too efficient. TAKE THE SAINTS!
If you are placing a friendly wager, use these picks and you will go 4-0. If you are betting money, leave me out of it.
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