NFC Playoff Picture As Eagles Await Divisional Round Opponent
The 2017-18 NFC playoff picture is set. The NFL playoffs kick off this Saturday beginning at 4:20 when the Titans travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs. In the nightcap, the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons travel out west to take on the LA Rams. There is nothing better than playoff football as over the next month teams will compete for a trip to Minnesota. Every playoff team in the NFC had 10+ wins; something that hasn’t been done since 2012. How does each team fair as the playoffs are set to get underway?
Defending NFC Champs
The Atlanta Falcons are back in the NFC playoff picture to defend their NFC Championship. That journey begins vs the Rams. The Falcons made it by virtue of their 22-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers. The Falcons are the first super bowl loser to return to the playoffs since the 2015 Seahawks. During their victory, however, starting Left Guard Andy Levitre who tried to play with a triceps injury was placed on IR on Tuesday. The Falcons offensive line will be looking for answers on how to block Aaron Donald who would have been Levitre’s matchup.
Two other teams from the NFC South are in the playoffs as the Saints come in as winners of the division and the Panthers claimed a wildcard spot. On Sunday for the third time this season the Saints and Panthers will meet as the Saints swept the season series. Carolina will look to find its groove on offense as they have struggled recently Cam Newton is coming off a three-interception game vs the Falcons and in the last two games combined for just one passing touchdown and four interceptions. The Saints lost to the Bucs to close the season but look to be the most dangerous team. Kamara and Ingram each had over 1,500 scrimmage yards, becoming the first duo to accomplish that. Add in Michael Thomas and his 1,245 receiving yards. They have become the first team in the past 25 years with three players over 1,200 scrimmage yards.
One of the better stories in the NFL this season has been the LA Rams. Head Coach Sean McVay has come in and resurrected a team from the Jeff Fisher era. The rams are in the playoffs for the first time since 2004 and will host a playoff game for the first time since 2003. Led by MVP candidate Todd Gurley and second-year QB Jared Goff, the Rams will be looking to make a run. The Rams are a young team, however, and they will be facing a Falcon’s team that’s been there before. It should be a very interesting game on Saturday night. Win or lose the Rams will be contenders for years to come.
The Eagles and Vikings will get to watch the Wildcard round from home as both earned first-round byes. The Eagles enter the playoffs for the first time since 2013 and have 13 wins. But from fan and media perspective, you wouldn’t know it. Nick Foles uninspiring play has led to a lot of concern about whether the Eagles can have success. There are also distractions; from assistant coaches Jim Schwartz and John Defilippo potentially leaving to accept new coaching opportunities. Despite all of that, the Eagles will host either Falcons, Saints, or Panthers and the teams know that the time is now. The Vikings also come in at 13-3 and winners of the NFC North. QB Sam Bradford returned to practice earlier this week. Head Coach Mike Zimmer has been non-committal on Case Keenum despite his great play and will be something to watch going forward.
This has the makings for one of the most entertaining playoffs in recent memory. The NFC is wide open this year with four teams qualifying that didn’t make it last year. The Eagles will be relying on the home crowd to be the extra boost. Early reports are calling for snow for next Saturday’s game. The NFC playoff picture will come into focus following Sunday’s games. The fun begins on Saturday; enjoy the ride.
Featured Image by Nick Waters
Article originally posted on Tha Sports Junkies 101.