Another week of the NFL playoffs here and the stakes are even bigger. The spotlight will shine on both the NFC and AFC as spots for the respective title games are ready to be decided. Two rematches from earlier in the season await us as the New Orleans Saints will travel up to Minnesota to take on the Vikings and the Jacksonville Jaguars will travel to the Pittsburgh Steelers. We will do a quick breakdown of each contest with odds, totals, and predictions for both games.
The first matchup is a rematch of week 5 where the Jaguars thumped the Steelers 30-9. Some look at this game as the part of the season where people started believing the Jaguars might be for real. The Jaguars picked off Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger 5 times, including two that were returned for touchdowns. Jaguar running back Leonard Fornette rushed 28 times for 181 yards (although 90 of those yards came in a busted garbage time touchdown when Jags were just running the clock out).
The Steelers offense struggled mightily in this contest thanks to Big Ben's turnovers. Roethlisberger was 33/55 for 312 yards but had no touchdowns. Steelers all-world running back Le'Veon Bell was held to 47 rushing yards on 15 carries.
The Steelers opened up as a -7 point favorite this time around with the total currently set 41. The previous contest has Pittsburgh as a -7.5 point favorite with a total of 42.5.
Do not see a scenario where Big Ben throws 5 interceptions again so Jacksonville may have to put up a little offense to stay in this one. Blake Bortles often struggles to put up numbers so if the Steelers are able to jump out early this one could get ugly for the Jaguars. However, if Jacksonville is able to keep it close early they could get a defensive struggle which they should fair well in with their stellar D.
My numbers favor Pittsburgh between 5 and 6 points so a slight lean on the Jags at +7 or better. The total for the game looks razor sharp with no value to be had on over or under so I am going to pass.
We have to go all the way back to week #1 for this rematch as the Minnesota Vikings will host the New Orleans Saints in this NFC contest. The Vikings were victorious in week 1 29-19. How much to gain from looking at a week #1 contest is up for debate especially in this case where the Vikings were starting Sam Bradford in week 1 and Alvin Kamara had yet to really have his breakout for the Saints as Adrian Peterson was still on the roster. In addition, the Vikings got a monster game from Dalvin Cook (127 yards rushing) who has since been put on IR with a torn ACL. Basically, two totally different teams from week 1 will meet this week.
Case Keenum will lead the Vikings in what he hopes ends as a great made for TV story. The Vikings spread the ball around on offense and have a pair of quality wideouts in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. There should be opportunities for the offense and they have to hope Keenum is able to keep up his magical run and not fold under playoff pressure.
The Saints, of course, are led by first-ballot Hall of Famer Drew Brees. This is a different New Orleans team though that has an offense led primarily by the ground game where both Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara play huge roles. Will the Saints be able to move the ball on the ground versus the formidable Viking front or will they have to make a slight return to the air it out Saints of old?
Slightly contrasting styles here as New Orleans is a good offensive team with a slightly below average defense while the Vikings are an average offensive squad with a serious defense. The Vikings currently sit as a -5 point favorite with the total set at 46.5.
My numbers have this game lined pretty close so it's probably a pass for me on both the side and the total. A few playoff situation are in play for the Saints so if forced that's my lean for action junkies.