It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The NFL Playoffs start on Saturday and for the first time since 2009, the New England Patriots will be taking part in the Wild Card round. Many may remember that wasn’t the best experience for the Pats which was a 33-14 shellacking by the Baltimore Ravens. Both teams are in the playoffs this year, but the Ravens get the top seed while the Patriots open up against the 6th seeded Tennessee Titans at 8:15 on Saturday night.
This will be a tough match up, especially since the Patriots lost to the freakin Miami Dolphins! In all seriousness though, the Patriots are 6th in the NFL against the rush and they will have a difficult time against the leading rusher this season Derrick Henry who had 1540 yds on 303 carries with 16 touchdowns. The career reincarnation of Ryan Tannehill will be in Foxboro along with receivers AJ Brown, Corey Davis and Adam Humphries. Combined the receivers tallied 132 receptions, 2,026 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. The receiving corps of the Titans against a secondary that got burned in the 2nd half against the Dolphins will be one of the top things to watch.
The Patriots are done. They’re finished. Why bother playing this game!? Perhaps fans need to take a breath, but the week 17 loss to the Dolphins did leave the Pats faithful in quite an uproar. The passing game for the Patriots was non-existent and I unfortunately expect a form of this on Saturday night. Phillip Dorsett was the leading receiver with 50 yds on 1 reception and 4 targets on Sunday. Edelman is hurt more than he’s leading on, Mohammed Sanu is on the outside of Tom Brady’s circle looking in, Meyers and Harry are trying, but need a full off season to become a big part of the passing game.
For the Patriots to win, I would expect the team to use Rex Burkhead in a James White type of role. This season, Burkhead had 27 receptions for 279 yds and had 65 carries for 302 yds and three rushing TD’s. If Josh McDaniels and the offense use Burkhead as a slot receiver type of player, Brady and New England could have some success.
All in all, this isn’t going to be your typical Saturday night playoff invitational. The Patriots are going to have to play and play a FULL 60 MINUTES!!
The Patriots should get the 27-17 victory but I’d hold off on getting those duck boats ready.
Other Wild Card Predictions:
Buffalo over Houston: Chris Berman’s world famous prediction of a Buffalo-San Francisco Super Bowl survives a week.
New Orleans over Minnesota: The Vikings may need a miracle to keep it close as the Saints high powered offense should have no problem.
Seattle over Philadelphia: The Eagles are banged up with players fresh off the practice squad starting important games while the Seahawks are probably not happy with the result on Sunday night’s game against the 49ers. We should have the NFC West rubber match next week in the bay area for a trip to the NFC Championship on the line.
Enjoy it while it lasts, the playoffs are here.