After an outrageous Wild Card Weekend, the Divisional Round has a lot to live up to
After a Wild Card Weekend where two visiting teams won, a quarterback tossed a touchdown to himself and a parking lot in Jacksonville was littered with broken tables thanks to perhaps the most brain-dead tailgating tradition in all of sports, the NFL Divisional Round has a lot to live up to in terms of outrageousness.
But this is the NFL playoffs — essentially a petri dish for the OUTRAGEOUS*.
Outrageous Predictions for NFL Divisional Playoff Games
Nick Foles outperforms Matt Ryan en route to an Eagles win
Foles has been a topic of conversation on football talk shows and in sports pages all week. Much of that conversation has to do with the notion that the Eagles can't win it all with him under center.
I beg to differ.
We've all seen Foles play at a high level in the past. This is the best team he's ever been on, complete with the best receiving corps he's ever thrown to. Look for him to eclipse the 300-yard mark against Atlanta, outperforming Ryan and winning a shootout with the Falcons.
Blake Bortles tosses three touchdowns en route to a Jaguars win
Like Foles, Bortles also has been a hot topic this week. That's due largely to his awful showing against the Bills last weekend. The Steelers will be focused on stopping the Jacksonville rushing attack and putting extra pressure on Bortles in hopes of forcing him into mistakes. That's going to leave plenty of room for his receivers to roam free downfield. Look for Bortles to be more aggressive than normal in attacking a Pittsburgh secondary that hasn't been the same since Joe Haden went down with a broken fibula in November, and could be missing cornerback Artie Burns, who suffered a knee injury in practice on Wednesday, on Sunday as well.
The Vikings intercept three Drew Brees passes and beat the Saints
The elite Minnesota defense was better against the run than the pass in the regular season. Brees and Sean Payton both know that, and the Saints will look to force the issue through the air. Big mistake. The Vikings gave up a league-low 13 touchdown passes and were one of only five teams to have more interceptions (14) than scoring strikes allowed. Harrison Smith (above, right) has been one of the better defensive players in the league over the last few years. Look for him to have a national coming out party in this one, as Minnesota's star safety wins a head-to head dual with Brees. I like Smith to account for two of the Vikings' three picks.
New England scores 50 against Tennessee
It's been eerily quiet in and around Foxborough during the last week and a half. That is — of course — with the exception of the ESPN article detailing trouble inside the walls of the Patriots' dynasty. We all know how this goes. New England thrives on the "us against the world" mentality. Look for the Pats to be more focused and united than they've been all season. It'll be a perfect storm. Tennessee does not have the defensive personnel to match up with Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the rest of New England's offense. Couple that with giving Bill Belichick two weeks to prepare a game plan and the Titans are in serious trouble. I could see the home team scoring a touchdown on offense, defense and special teams in a blowout win.
*Remember, "outrageous" can be defined as “wildly exaggerated or improbable,” and “very bold, unusual, and startling.” These are "outrageous" predictions and should be treated as such.
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, SBNation and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.