NFL playoffs: Picks, predictions for 2018 divisional round

Three NFL head coaches have won 36 games in the postseason.

That tie can be broken this weekend.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick can move ahead of former Cowboys coach Tom Landry and former Colts and Dolphins coach Don Shula if New England beats the Titans on Saturday. 

Belichick, Mike Tomlin and Sean Payton are the only Super Bowl-winning coaches of the eight teams remaining in the playoffs. Tomlin’s Steelers will play at home, along with Belichick’s Patriots, but Payton has to take the Saints north to Minnesota’s U.S. Bank Stadium — the site of Super Bowl 52. 

NFL divisional playoffs predictions

Falcons (11-6) at Eagles (13-3) 

4:35 p.m. ET, Saturday (NBC)

For the first time ever, a No. 6 seed is a favorite to beat the No. 1 overall seed in any conference. Because of the ACL injury to Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, the Falcons are slight favorites to win at Lincoln Financial Field.

Wentz’s backup, Nick Foles, has not been good and was downright abysmal in a 6-0 loss to the Cowboys in Week 17. If the Eagles can’t generate some offense against the Falcons, it might be too much to ask for Philadelphia’s fourth-ranked defense to keep Atlanta from scoring. 

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan enters Saturday’s game with a passer rating of at least 100 in five consecutive postseason games, tied for the second-longest streak in NFL history. Only former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana had a longer streak with eight games. 

Prediction: Falcons 24, Eagles 16

Titans (10-7) at Patriots (13-3) 

8:15 p.m. ET, Saturday (CBS) 

The Titans were down 21-3 to the Chiefs before storming back for a 22-21 victory at Arrowhead Stadium. If they get into a 21-3 hole against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium, there probably won’t be any digging out of it. 

The Patriots have been superb at home in the postseason with six straight wins in Foxborough. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, with his five Super Bowl titles, has the most playoff wins all-time by a starting quarterback with 25. A victory over the Titans will send the Patriots to the AFC championship game for the seventh straight season. 

New England is rested and probably annoyed by the widely disputed report of turmoil within the organization. An angry Brady is at his best and the Titans may feel his wrath on Saturday. 

Prediction: Patriots 31, Titans 10

Jaguars (11-6) at Steelers (13-3) 

1:05 p.m. ET, Sunday (CBS) 

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be out to prove that 30-9 loss to the Jaguars in Week 5 was a fluke. Roethlisberger was intercepted five times in that game and the Steelers will look to establish running back Le’Veon Bell early.

The Steelers defense will key on Jaguars back Leonard Fournette after he ran for 181 yards in the regular-season matchup. If the Steelers can contain Fournette, it’s unlikely struggling Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles will be able to outduel Roethlisberger, who will have All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown back from injury. 

Prediction : Steelers 34, Jaguars 13

Saints (12-5) at Vikings (13-3)

4:40 p.m. ET, Sunday (Fox)

This might be the best game of the weekend and is also a rematch of sorts from a regular-season game. The Saints were dealt a 29-19 defeat in their last trip to U.S. Bank Stadium, but that was in Week 1 when the Saints still had Adrian Peterson. The Vikings also look different after quarterback Sam Bradford and rookie running back Dalvin Cook were lost for the season with knee injuries. 

Case Keenum stepped in for Bradford and has had an MVP-type season. Vikings receiver Adam Thielen is turning into a star with 91 catches for 1,276 yards and running back Latavius Murray started to come on over the last month of the regular season. 

The Vikings don’t quite have the offensive weapons the Saints do in quarterback Drew Brees, receiver Michael Thomas and running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, but Minnesota does have the NFL’s best defense and that might be the difference on Sunday. 

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