NFL Playoff Picture 2018: AFC, NFC Brackets, Odds, Scenarios and Picks
The NFL playoff field is down to eight teams that will face off in four matchups over the course of Saturday and Sunday to decide who advances to the conference championships.
Here’s the entire NFL playoff picture as of now, in addition to spreads and over/under totals via OddsShark. You can also find picks for the divisional-round matchups below and a look ahead at the eight possible conference championship tilts.
NFL Playoff Bracket and Schedule
Saturday, January 13, at 4:35 p.m. ET on NBC: Atlanta Falcons (-2.5, 40.5 O/U) at Philadelphia Eagles
Saturday, January 13, at 8:15 p.m. ET on CBS: Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots (-13.5, 48 O/U)
Sunday, January 14, at 1:05 p.m. ET on CBS: Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7, 41 O/U)
Sunday, January 14, at 4:40 p.m. ET on Fox: New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings (-5, 46.5 O/U)
Sunday, January 21, at 3 p.m. ET: AFC Championship on CBS (lowest-seeded AFC team at highest-seeded AFC team)
Sunday, January 21, at 6:30 p.m. ET: NFC Championship on Fox (lowest-seeded NFC team at highest-seeded NFC team)
Super Bowl LII
Sunday, February 4, at 6:30 p.m. ET: AFC champion vs. NFC champion on NBC (game will be played in Minneapolis)
Falcons 27, Eagles 13
Patriots 42, Titans 17
Steelers 20, Jaguars 10
Vikings 24, Saints 16
Conference Championship Scenarios
Titans vs. Steelers
This would be a rematch of a regular-season matchup that the Steelers won 40-17 at Heinz Field thanks to three touchdowns from wideout Antonio Brown.
Although betting on the Steelers to score 40 again would be a risky proposition, Pittsburgh would have the clear edge in this matchup yet again.
Pittsburgh has three fantastic offensive weapons in Brown, running back Le’Veon Bell and wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster, and it will be hard for the Titans to contain all of them.
Titans vs. Jaguars
On the flip side, this would be a much better matchup for the Titans, who beat the Jaguars twice already this season. Tennessee was one of the only teams this year that made the Jags defense look mortal when it beat Jacksonville 37-16 in September.
The Titans offense wasn’t as successful the second time around, but the defense stepped up in a 15-10 victory to close the regular season.
Tennessee and Jacksonville aren’t built to win shootouts, as they each possess run-first offenses. Therefore, we could see another rock fight on our hands similar to the one that we saw in Week 17.
Steelers vs. Patriots
This could be an instant classic, much like the game these two teams played in Pittsburgh in Week 15, when the Pats escaped with a 27-24 victory.
This time around, the game would be in New England, although one would think that wideout Antonio Brown, who suffered a calf injury in the first half of the Patriots matchup and was forced to leave the game, would likely be back.
That being said, Brown is a game-time decision for the divisional round game against Jacksonville on Sunday, per Pro Football Talk, so that is a situation to monitor.
If he plays, then this should be another back-and-forth affair that goes down to the wire.
Patriots vs. Jaguars
This might be the most interesting possible matchup of the entire NFL playoffs. The Jaguars are one of the few teams that can stop the dynamic Patriots offense thanks to an excellent pass rush and a few shutdown cornerbacks in the secondary.
Of course, you can say the opposite for the Pats: They have one of the few offenses in the league that can beat the Jags defense, which allowed just 16.8 points per game.
It would be fascinating to see how Pats offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels tries to attack the Jacksonville defense. The guess is a heavy dose of running back Dion Lewis, but watching the Pats offense vs. the Jags defense is must-see television for football fans.
Vikings vs. Falcons
The Vikings beat the Falcons 14-9 on the road earlier this year, but this time around, they would host Atlanta with a Super Bowl berth on the line.
Minnesota’s home-field advantage might be the X-factor for the postseason. The Vikings have lost just one game in U.S. Bank Stadium, and that was a 14-7 loss to the 9-7 Detroit Lions.
The 13-3 Vikings have been tremendous almost everywhere they have played, and they haven’t allowed more than 19 points all season on its field. That will go a long way toward a win against a hot Falcons team that has won seven of its past nine.
Vikings vs. Eagles
The top two NFC seeds would face off in Philadelphia in this matchup as the Vikings travel to face the host Eagles.
Despite the Eagles’ home-field advantage, Minnesota would likely be the favorite in this one. The offense is clicking thanks to the two-headed rushing attack of Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon and a stout passing game led by quarterback Case Keenum, who has rejuvenated his career in Minnesota. And the defense has allowed the fewest points in the league.
Meanwhile, the Eagles have not fared well since quarterback Carson Wentz suffered a torn ACL in Week 14 against the Los Angeles Rams. Philadelphia struggled to beat the three-win New York Giants and six-win Oakland Raiders before starters and backups combined to score zero points in a 6-0 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17.
Expect Minnesota to be the victor here.
Eagles vs. Saints
Look for the New Orleans Saints to be the winners if this matchup occurs. Although the Eagles defense could likely hang with the Saints offense, especially at home, the offense could struggle against a stout secondary led by cornerbacks Ken Crawley and Marshon Lattimore. Defensive end Cameron Jordan is also a one-man wrecking crew who can beat any tackle in the league.
New Orleans is only 4-4 away from the friendly confines of Mercedes-Benz Superdome, but the Eagles’ loss of Wentz would likely be too much to overcome for Philadelphia.
Saints vs. Falcons
The Saints and Falcons split their season series this year, although New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara missed most of a 20-17 loss to the Falcons after he suffered a concussion. With him a full go two weeks later, the Saints beat the Falcons 23-13.
New Orleans has posted a 6-1 record at home this year, with its only loss coming against the 13-3 New England Patriots. Its home-field advantage is one of the best in American professional sports, and that will be hard for the Falcons to overcome in this possible NFC Championship battle.
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January 13, 2018 at 08:16AM