Super Bowl LI: Divisional Round Previews and Predictions

Jason Owen, Sports Editor



I’m being a little nice here. New England dominated this matchup with back in week 3 with a dominant 27 point victory despite having rookie third rounder Jacoby Brissett starting at quarterback. Tom Brady will be playing in this one and the 39 year old has yet to show signs of slowing down. Houston’s defense, especially surprise standout cornerback A.J Bouye, has taken a huge step forward since then. Brock Osweiler will be under center again for the Texans, coming off one of his better performances of the season, but I wouldn’t expect him to repeat that against this sneaky good Patriots defense (#1 in scoring defense). The Texans’ defense will try to follow the formula Denver used in last year’s AFC championship game, but this Patriots offense is much less one-sided, thanks to LeGarrette Blount’s renaissance year.  Houston may be able to hold Brady in check but if not this game could get out of hand quickly.


Pittsburgh dominated Miami last week behind big days for the Big 3. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown looked locked in while running back Le’Veon Bell’s patient and dynamic running ability made him simply unstoppable. The Chiefs’ defense is much better than the Dolphins’ and has been especially hot lately, but stopping Pittsburgh’s offense is a lot to ask for right now. The Chiefs’ offense has taken off lately thanks to the play of the controversial but explosive rookie Tyreek Hill. Kansas City’s chances in this game rely on Hill making big plays to keep pace with the Steelers offense.  



Atlanta is the best team no one has been talking about. They’re led by MVP candidate Matt Ryan and had the league’s best offense this season. They stumbled in the middle of the season but have regained ground behind running back Devonta Freeman. Seattle dominated the Lions last week but relied heavily on some big plays by wide receiver Paul Richardson and the rediscovery of their run game. Seattle still has a great defense, but without Earl Thomas defending the middle they’re likely to struggle against the Falcons’ offense. Seattle will have to score to win this one, but their offense hasn’t been reliable this season.


Last week I wrote about how key Aaron Rodgers would be to the success of the Packers. All he did next was throw for over 300 yards and 4 touchdowns against the playoffs best defense. The Cowboys are the surprise of the NFL this season, finishing with the best record in the NFC thanks to rookie standouts QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys ran all over the Packers in their last matchup, but the Dallas defense simply doesn’t have the talent to stop Rodgers and the Green Bay offense. Prescott, Elliott and wide receiver Dez Bryant will do enough to keep the game close, but the Packers will likely ride their win streak into the NFC championship.

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