Experience Under Center – NFC Divisional Round Preview

Now that the inaugural six game NFL Wild Card weekend is over, it’s back to business as usual with the divisional round of the playoffs. In the NFC, all four teams are led by a quarterback that has played in at least one Super Bowl. They know what it takes to get there but only two can move on the NFC Championship game.

 

Los Angeles Rams (6) at Green Bay Packers (1)

In the only NFC Divisional battle that features newer blood vs. the old guard, the Los Angeles Rams (10-6) lead by quarterback Jared Goff face the Green Bay Packers (13-3), with future hall of fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers. For Green Bay, it’s a chance to tie up their overall head-to-record with the Rams and for Los Angeles, a chance to show they still got it. While Brees vs. Brady will be highlighted, this one surely shouldn’t go by the wayside.

Keys To The Game

Rams

For Los Angeles to win, they need to respect Aaron Rodgers. It doesn’t matter that they had the best defense in the NFL this year, nor that they’ve forced 22 turnovers (tied for tenth). Rodgers is a game changer in the sense he can make any receiver look like a star.

To give him any sort of wiggle room is a mistake that will be cashed in on, every time.

Packers

Green Bay can bend, but not break. That means they can give up the yards but not the points. Los Angeles can rack up yards, however they’re only putting up about 23 points a game, which is on par with what Green Bay averages in points given up. All three times they’ve lost, it’s because they gave up more than their average.

 

Key Players

Los Angeles Rams – Troy Reeder; Linebacker: He doesn’t have Aaron Donald’s sack totals, he doesn’t have John Johnson III’s total tackles numbers, he’s not a specialty guy. That said, he tied for the most total tackles in their Wild Card game against Seattle. He’s also done a little a bit of a everything on defense for Los Angeles this year.

Green Bay Packers – Robert Tonyan; Tight End: Davante Adams will always be Aaron Rodgers’ go-to guy, but wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Tonyan have become major contributors on this offense. If they leave Tonyan open, the Rams will pay.

 

Prediction

Green Bay and Los Angeles should be a competitive game. However, while defense usually cancels out offense, Aaron Rodgers in the postseason is scarier than Aaron Rodgers in the regular season. Packers win, 31-23. – Eric Urbanowicz

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5) at New Orleans Saints (2)

NFL Fans have clamored for a Tom Brady vs. Drew Brees matchup in the postseason many times in the past. Now, with rumors swirling that this will be Brees’ final season, we will get at least one chance to see it. Both are looking to get to another Super Bowl, but have to go through the other to get there.

 

Keys To The Game

Buccaneers

Tampa Bay must establish their run game early and often. In two games (losses) against the Saints this season, the Buccaneers have a total of 94 rushing yards. A better rushing attack will keep the Saints’ defense a bit on their heels and give Tom Brady a cleaner pocket to work from.

Saints

The Saints applied major pressure on Tom Brady in the two regular season meetings (six total sacks) and that needs to continue. They forced a total of five interceptions and six overall turnovers. New Orleans’ defense paced the game and it took a toll on the Buccaneers’ offense having to make a comeback.

 

Key Players

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Evans; Wide Receiver: Evans has to continue his play from the Wild Card round. He provides a big target and when he’s hot he demands a double team. If he goes out and beats his defender time after time, then it will open up the other targets in the Bucs’ offense.

New Orleans Saints – Jared Cook; Tight End: Cook should find some holes in the Buccaneers’ defense. Tampa Bay will most surely be eyeing in on Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, leaving Cook in one on one matchups with linebackers. Cook should win those matchups, helping to convert first downs and touchdowns.

 

 Prediction

Despite two convincing wins by the Saints during the regular season, this should be a close game. I’ll take the Buccaneers 27-24. – Ab Stanley

Ab Stanley

Atlanta, GA

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