The NFL kicks off Divisional Weekend with two games on Saturday. A large storm system will be moving across the Eastern US that will impact both the games and fans traveling to them. The Eagles host the Falcons in Philadelphia while the Patriots host the Titans in Foxboro. While both games should be dry by kickoff, windy and cold conditions will impact the kicking and passing games.
NFC Divisional Game #6 Atlanta @ #1 Philadelphia 435 PM
Its a battle of the birds in the City of Brotherly Love for a spot in the NFC Championship Game. Heavy rain will fall much of the day Friday and Saturday AM in the Mid-Atlantic. 1-2″ is likely with precipitation ending around 7-10 AM Saturday. Will the Eagles leave the field uncovered to try and slow down the Falcons attack? They may, but northwest winds incoming behind the storm would have a chance to dry the field so I would worry about that slowing down the birds more than any shenanigans.
The opening on the NW side of the field will be a perfect funnel for winds. The team that moves the ball from north to south in the 4th quarter will have an advantage. Temperatures will be in the 30’s to start the game, with wind chills in the 20’s. By the 4th quarter, temps will be near 30 with wind chills in the upper teens. We know how tough it is for Southern and Dome teams to travel to the Northeast in the winter. Philly is getting points at home. As long as they don’t try and let Foles throw 25+ times and give the ball to Blount and Ajayi 40 times Philly has a good chance to pull the “upset”.
This will be Matt Ryan’s 4th road playoff game. He is 1-2 with the victory of course coming in LA last week. He also lost the Cardinals in 2008 and the Giants in 2011. The game against the Giants was played in 44 degree temps and the Falcons struggled, being grounded 24-2. Matty Ice was 24-41 for 199 yards.
It seems like everyone loves the Falcons because of Nick Foles. I like the Eagles.
AFC Divisional Game #5 Tennessee @ #1 New England 815 PM
13 years ago today, the Pats and Titans played the coldest home game in the history of the Patriots franchise. While it won’t be that cold, or even as cold as the Pats-Jets game on New Year’s Eve, it will be cold at Gillette Saturday night. A period of freezing rain/snow is possible Saturday afternoon in Foxboro as the rain ends and cold air rushes in behind it.
While it may be tempting to keep the field uncovered to help slow down Derrick Henry, that would hurt the Patriots offense so I expect the field turf to be in good shape Saturday evening. The winds won’t be all that bad either by New England standards.
I am expecting temperatures to be in the mid 20’s at kickoff, dropping to around 20 by the end of the game. Although the wind will not be terrible, it will allow for wind chills in the teens and perhaps single digits by the end of the game. I’ll take Tom Brady over the kid from Hawaii even if he did play alright in 33 degree weather last week in Kansas City. Mariota will make some plays with his legs on 3rd down to keep drives alive. The Pats defense will have to continue to stay strong in the red area to cover the -13. Brady and company should be able to move the ball at will against the Titans defense. Gronk will have his way with the secondary, much like Travis Kelce did until he was injured.
I want to give the Titans the 13 because the Pats defense really isn’t all that good. If James Harrison keeps playing like a scorned ex-girlfriend, the Pats will win by 20+ points. What will it be, the 12th AFC championship game for Brady and Belichick?
I’ll have the Pittsburgh-Jacksonville game tomorrow.