After a humbling Wild Card Weekend for all parties, we’re back on the horse for the divisional round. Here are Sportsnaut’s expert NFL picks for the Divisional Round.


Michael Dixon

Eagles +3 over Falcons
 
When in doubt, take the points. With a favored dome team heading outdoors to play in cold weather, that’s exactly what we’re doing here. A great deal of attention has understandably gone to how poorly the Philadelphia offense has played in Carson Wentz’s absence. What’s perhaps gone overlooked is how well the Eagles’ defense has played, especially over the regular season’s final two weeks.
 
Patriots -13.5 over Titans
 

The line is big. That’s a given. But New England has made six straight AFC Championship Games. The Pats have won the six divisional round games by an average of better than 16 points. Even that is dragged down by two close games against teams far more imposing than the Titans. Also, while Tennesseee’s Wild Card Weekend win was fun, it doesn’t help the Titans at all this week. New England knows that Tennessee can come back. As such, expect the Pats to be ruthless once they get a big lead.

Jaguars +7 over Steelers

At the end of the day, it’s hard to imagine Blake Bortles playing well enough to win in Pittsburgh. Look for the Steelers to do just enough to win. But we can’t forget that one of the NFL’s best defense is getting a lot of points. For the Steelers to cover, they’ll have to allow very few points, or score a lot on a capable defense. I feel good about Pittsburgh winning the game. But that’s a big number to cover.

Saints +5 over Vikings

This is one of the more intriguing matchups of the playoffs and when all is said and done, I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up as the postseason’s best game. The Saints are a different team than they were when the two played in Week 1. Additionally, the Vikings do not have Dalvin Cook, the man who dominated the Week 1 outing. Minnesota’s home field advantage is no joke. But I like New Orleans getting the points and with Drew Brees coming in sharp, I actually like them to win outright.

Rachel Wold

Falcons -3 over Eagles

I’m picking the Falcons to cover the spread against the Eagles. Nick Foles doesn’t stand a chance and will crumble under pressure. We saw the Falcons defense come up strong, pull off an upset and make Jared Goff struggle last week. Though, the win won’t be a piece of cake. The Falcons should have trouble running the ball against Philly’s top-ranked rushing defense. This is when a win will come down to Matt Ryan targeting Julio Jones – a lot – in the passing game.

Patriots -13.5 over Titans

As for the Patriots hosting the Titans, this game should not even be close. The Patriots will easily cover the spread. There is simply no comparison when it comes to Bill Belichick versus Mike Mularkey and Tom Brady versus Marcus Mariota. But by no means will this game will be low scoring. The Titans will fight hard against a Pats defense that gave up 366 yards per game in 2017. But in the end, Brady’s arm wins when he passes for over 300 yards which is something he has not done since Week 11.

Jaguars +7 over Steelers

Jacksonville at Pittsburgh will be very intriguing, and the Steelers will fail to cover the spread. Instead, a defensive fist fight may be the case. Ben Roethlisberger won’t be as sloppy as he was with his five picks last time against the Jags. But, I predict two interceptions and three sacks on him. And speaking of interceptions, the Jaguars run the ball tons to keep Blake Bortles from Bortling. Le’Veon Bell should be key in Pittsburgh winning. Although, the Jags might just surprise and take this one.

Saints +5 over Vikings

For the final game, the Saints prevent the Vikings from covering the spread. I think they come on fast and furious with a strong Drew Brees passing game. Even against the likes of the Vikings’ shutdown secondary, a well-coached Saints offense prevails. So does experience. This is the game in which the Case Keenum of old may creep up. Keenum has never been in the playoffs and it will show when the Saints defense forces more three-and-outs than the Vikings would like.

David Kenyon

Falcons -3 over Eagles

Patriots -13.5 over Titans

Jaguars +7 over Steelers

Saints +5 over Vikings

Jesse Reed

Eagles +3 over Falcons

Sure, Nick Foles gives us reason for concern. But the Eagles are more than just their quarterback. Particularly, I expect Philly’s defense to step up and have its best game of the season against a suspect Atlanta offense. Jim Schwartz has an edge over Steve Sarkisian in my estimation, and Philly’s front seven is outstanding. If Foles can just avoid the crippling mistakes, he’ll lead the Eagles into the NFC Championship Game.

Patriots -13.5 over Titans

New England’s once-problematic defense really turned up the heat down the stretch in terms of points allowed. Meanwhile, Tennessee’s offense has serious issues across the board, Marcus Mariots’s Superman game notwithstanding. Tom Brady might be fading ever so slightly at the age of 40, but he’s still amazing, and Tennessee doesn’t have anyone who can stop Rob Gronkowski.

Jaguars +7 over Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers are going to win, but they won’t win by more than a touchdown. Jacksonville’s defense is just too outstanding from the line of scrimmage all the way to the back end, and I can’t trust that Antonio Brown is going to be fully healthy. The Steelers would be smart to put this game into the hands of Le’Veon Bell and their defense, which is more than capable of shutting down Blake Bortles.

Saints +5 over Vikings

This goes against my gut a bit. After all, Minnesota’s defense is unbelievably good and has had a week to rest up for this matchup. However, I believe we’re going to see another throwback game from Drew Brees, and I don’t think Sean Payton is going to go through another contest without getting Alvin Kamara more involved than we saw last week. Also, the Vikings aren’t the only team with an outstanding defense. I expect Cameron Jordan to have another big outing and that the Saints will hold Minnesota’s offense to under 21 points.

Vincent Frank

Falcons +3 over Eagles

This game isn’t going to be necessarily all too close. The idea of Nick Foles starting a playoff game against the reigning NFL MVP doesn’t bode well for the No. 1-seed Eagles. And while Matt Ryan has struggled to an extent this season, this one scribe fully expects a Falcons defense that bottled up Jared Goff in the Wildcard round to do the same thing in the divisional round.

Patriots -13.5 over Titans

Again, this game isn’t going to be close. Look for it to potentially be over before halftime. Sure Marcus Mariota put up a stellar second half against Kansas City last week, but here’s a guy that threw more interceptions than touchdowns during the regular season. Meanwhile, New England boasted the top scoring defense in the NFL for the final two months. With Tom Brady at home on Saturday night in January playing a playoff game, there’s no reason to believe the Titans will keep this one close.

Jaguars +7 over Steelers

Jaguars 14, Steelers 13. Yes, I went there. How about that upset? And no, I don’t need to explain myself. Just watch.

Vikings -5 over Saints

This is probably the best game on the weekend’s slate. And if it were played at a neutral site or in New Orleans, I’d have to go with the Saints here. But Drew Brees has been nowhere near the same quarterback on the road in the playoffs. And the Vikings’ defense was downright dominant during the regular season. Add in the fact that New Orleans gave up north of 400 yards to Cam Newton and Co. last week, and I have faith in Case Keenum continuing to do his thing.

Ethan Sears

Falcons -3 over Eagles

I came close to talking myself into the Eagles at the tail end of the week. A great defense, getting points at home, against a team that has defined inconsistency all year is an enticing prospect. But then I remembered something: Nick Foles plays quarterback for the Eagles, and Nick Foles is terrible. Don’t overthink this. If the Falcons go up 10-0 midway through the second quarter, the game is over. During the last two games, Foles nearly threw more interceptions (2) than he averaged adjusted net yards per attempt (2.69). He’s not qualified to be starting a postseason game.

Patriots -13.5 over Titans

Remember New England’s divisional round game last season, when Brock Osweiler and the Texans came to Gillette as a 16-point underdog and played the Patriots close during the first half? New England ended up covering the spread. This year’s Titans aren’t as bad as last year’s Texans, but neither should have been in the second round. Houston made it because Derek Carr suffered a late-season injury and the Raiders had to roll with Connor Cook at quarterback in the wild card game. Tennessee made it because of an epic Andy Reid collapse. There’s too much of a talent disparity for the Titans to stick around here.

Jaguars +7 over Steelers

There are two potential outcomes for this game. Either Bortles plays somewhere between competence and decent and Jacksonville pulls the upset, or he plays like he did last week and the Jaguars get murdered. I’m going with (gulp) the first one of those. Jacksonville’s defense is capable of stopping Pittsburgh. Lost in the albatross that was Bortles’ performance on Sunday: the Jags limited Buffalo to 3.6 yards per play. Sure, the Bills’ offense isn’t anywhere near the level of the Steelers’, but the Jaguars have been doing this all year. The bar is so low for Bortles, it feels truly hard for him not to hit it.

Saints +5 over Vikings

The Saints’ secondary is as good an answer to Minnesota’s receiving corps as you could ask for and the Vikings aren’t good enough on the ground to make that a focal point. Cam Jordan has a lopsided matchup against right tackle Mike Remmers as well. On the other side, the Saints are perfectly well-rounded. If you shut off one part of their game, they’ll find another way to win annd do it just as well. Drew Brees will also get to play this game indoors, the importance of which cannot be overstated. Unlike in Week 1, New Orleans will leave Minneapolis with a win.

Standings

Ethan Sears: 134-113-13

Vincent Frank: 132-115-13

Michael Dixon: 123-120-13

Jesse Reed: 122-121-13

Rachel Wold: 115-128-13

David Kenyon: 106-137-13