Four tense, tight and thrilling playoff games down, the post-season predictions battle between Neil Reynolds and Jeff Reinebold is just as tense, with the latter holding a one-game lead as they make their divisional round picks…
Each week, on the Inside the Huddle podcast, Neil and Jeff make their predictions for every NFL game, keeping a tally of their records as the season goes on. Jeff was a convincing winner over the regular season, finishing 11 games clear of Neil with a 165-89-2 record, but the pair are doing battle once again for the playoffs. Jeff again gained the edge after Wild Card weekend with his correct prediction of the Dallas Cowboys to beat the Seattle Seahawks.
Inside the Huddle is broadcast every week on Sky Sports and is available On Demand.
Read on to see Neil and Jeff’s divisional round predictions…
Indianapolis Colts (#6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (#1), AFC
Sky Sports USA (407), 9pm, Saturday
NEIL PICKS: CHIEFS
Andrew Luck and Patrick Mahomes – 89 touchdown passes combined this season – going head to head. This could be special at Arrowhead. But I’ve got to go against my boy Luck. I think the Colts might give the Chiefs a run for their money, but Mahomes is special.
JEFF PICKS: CHIEFS
Here’s my thing with the kid Mahomes. You saw what the pressure of the playoffs did to Baltimore Ravens rookie QB Lamar Jackson last week, but Mahomes is a different beast. I don’t think the stage is going to be too big for him, he has given no indication so far that it will be.
Dallas Cowboys (#4) @ Los Angeles Rams (#2), NFC
Sky Sports USA (407), 1.15am, Sunday
NEIL PICKS: RAMS
Dallas are 7-1 at home this year, but 3-5 on the road. But, I feel that is slightly misleading – the Cowboys seem built to play on the road, with their strong running game and defense.
The Rams were scoring points – a bit like the Chiefs – at a historic rate earlier in the year, even beating Kansas City 54-51, but then since their bye week they’ve dropped off a little. A few shaky games for Jared Goff at quarterback and star runner Todd Gurley was out the last couple of weeks.
Both of these running backs are going to be key to this game. Gurley for the Rams and Ezekiel Elliott for the Cowboys.
I’m sticking with the Rams to win a close one at home.
JEFF PICKS: RAMS
I look at the Cowboys, and think they match up really well against the Rams. Their front four on defense is impressive – they get up the field – and they have linebackers that can run like crazy and a secondary that is underrated.
The key for the Cowboys though, is Zeke needs at least 35 touches in this game. They must turn it into a shrink-the-clock, pound away, physical kind of game. You look at the Rams and where they’re susceptible, and it’s against the run.
I’m dying to take the Cowboys to cause an upset in this one, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Rams.
Los Angeles Chargers (#5) @ New England Patriots (#2), AFC
Sky Sports USA (407), 5.30pm, Sunday
NEIL PICKS: CHARGERS
Possibly a snow game. I always like a snow game, until the end of about the first quarter and you realise they often are rubbish.
This is Philip Rivers’ return to Foxborough. He played in the 2007 AFC Championship game there, struggling the entire second half of that one with torn knee ligaments. But this feels like a chance for him now. He’s got a chance, with a good team around him. And they don’t scare easily on the road – the Chargers have been a perfect 9-0 in games outside of Los Angeles this season.
Tom Brady has obviously put up historic numbers in the playoffs. He has played in eight Super Bowls and won five of them; he is special. But, he can be affected by pressure and the Chargers brought a lot of pressure last week.
The Chargers are my shock of the week, knocking off the Patriots on the road.
JEFF PICKS: PATRIOTS
This is a good matchup. This Chargers team when into Baltimore – a tough place to play – and against a physical Ravens team, they didn’t flinch. But what is really interesting to me on this game, is their health. Can Melvin Gordon play like he is capable? I thought he played hurt against the Ravens. I respect his heart, but he needs to be healthy and give the Chargers a run game. I’m taking the Patriots.
Philadelphia Eagles (#6) @ New Orleans Saints (#1), NFC
Sky Sports USA (407), 9.40pm, Sunday
NEIL PICKS: SAINTS
What a game this is for the Eagles. They need to put a few things straight, as they suffered the biggest defeat ever by a Super Bowl champion when they went down 48-7 to the Saints earlier in the season. They were outgained 546 yards to 196 on offense and turned the ball over three times. But, in comes Saint Nick. He is the Philly quarterback this time round and the Eagles have won six of their last seven.
However, looking at this one, I still think the Saints are the heaviest favourites in any of the games this weekend. New Orleans, and the Superdome, is such a hard place to go and play. This is my lock.
JEFF PICKS: SAINTS
New Orleans at home is my lock of the weekend also.