The Divisional playoffs begin at Levi’s Stadium with the visting Vikings taking on the 49ers. Starting with the home side, they enjoyed a week off as the #2 seed in the NFC and finished off the regular season with 2 important divisional wins over the Rams/Seahawks. This will be 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s first playoff start and he’s coming off an impressive 27 TD and 3978 passing yards in the regular season. He’ll look to target key weapon George Kittle in the passing game and they’ll need to use their 3 running backs in favourable situations against this Vikings defence. Meanwhile, the 49ers defence probably struggled a bit down the stretch in December but still finished the season as the best team against the pass. A huge upset by the Vikings in New Orleans sees them head to San Fran with a lot of confidence. They successfully overcame the Saints with Dalvin Cook looking fresh from missing a few games as he found the endzone twice. Kirk Cousins also found his combination with Adam Thielen (7 catches, 129 yards). But defensively, they were too good. They kept Kamara to just 7 carries / 21 yards and Michael Thomas didn’t have a huge impact. Their gameplan for most of the year has been using the running game behind Dalvin Cook and that shouldn’t change here. Ultimately, these two sides pride themsevlves on defence and running the football, which should mean a low scoring playoff game. The Vikings hold a nice 8-3 record in their last 11 playoff games and the Under has also saluted in 6 of the last 7 meetings between the two sides.
The 49ers went 6-2 at home this season. The Vikings have only played at this venue once and lost 20-3.
Head to Head Record
The two sides last met in 2018 with the Vikings getting home 24-16. SInce 1997, the 49ers hold a 6-4 record and have won 9 of 10 when they host this meeting.
The second game of the Sunday double-header heads to Baltimore as they tackle the Titans. A dominant regular season saw the 14-2 Ravens capture the #1 seed in the AFC and home field advantage. In just his 2nd season, Lamar Jackson is likely going to win the MVP after taking his game to another level. He finished with a massive total of 36 TDs and 1206 rushing yards. His favourite target was TE Mark Andrews with his 10 TD catches. They do have an injury issue with Ingram (missed practice) so that will be something to watch. Defensively, the Ravens were equally impressive against the pass and run. So they’ll be very confident of stopping the influence of Henry in the Titans running game. What a huge win by the Titans in New England last week as they outlasted the SB champs 20-13. Derrick Henry finished with 182 rushing yards as the Patriots really had no answers in the wet. So it’s going to be interesting to see how the Ravens tackle him. Tannehill didn’t have a great game with just 72 passing yards but the running game was obviously the key. However, he’ll likely need to beat the Ravens in the air here. Credit does go to Mike Vrabel and the Titans for their playoff victory last week but the Ravens are another beast. They have all the tools of a SB champion with a great defence and a running QB that’s pretty much impossible to stop. However, we do like the Under here again since the Titans showed plenty of defence last week. The Under also has a nice 9-3 record in the last 12 meetings and 5-0 at this venue.
The Ravens have won 5 straight home games. The Titans last played in Baltimore in 2014 and lost 21-7.
Head to Head Record
Since 2002, both sides have won 5 games against each other. The last playoff meeting saw a 13-10 result in Nashville in 2009 and the Ravens beat them 21-0 last season.
Monday’s double-header starts in Kansas City with the Chiefs taking on the Texans. The Chiefs are hitting the playoffs in peak form after 6 straight wins and they’re well favoured over the Texans. It all starts with their dynamic offence, led by Patrick Mahomes. He finished the regular season with 26 TD passes and just over 4000 yards, despite missing 2 games. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill are the two top targets in the passing game after combining for over 2000 yards. The question mark is usually with their defence but they seemed to improve over the last 6 games, including keeping two sides to just 3 points. Houston roared back from 16-0 down against the Bills on their home turf to win a thrilling OT contest 22-19. Watson was the key in the second half with a huge performance and the Texans D, led by JJ Watt, put the pressure on the Bills. However, they will need to keep Watson upright after allowing 7 sacks and their running game was pretty average with Carlos Hyde. But the return of JJ Watt makes a huge difference to their defence and the motivation he provides this team. So they should be very confident of a massive upset. Considering the Texans have already travelled to this venue in 2019 and beat the Chiefs 31-24, we like the road underdogs here. They exploited the Chiefs poor run defence with 3 TDs on the ground and they should look to use a similar gameplan. The road team does hold a 6-1 ATS record in the last 7 meetings as well. Not to mention, the Chiefs have a very poor playoff record at Arrowhead Stadium (1-5 ATS).
The Chiefs hold a 4-1 record in their last 5 home games. As mentioned, the Texans beat them here in October 31-24.
Head to Head Record
The two sides have split their last 10 games since 2004.
The NFL playoffs return to Lambeau Field on Monday as the Packers host the Seahawks. It was a much improved regular season for the 13-3 Packers after hiring new head coach Matt LaFleur. They finished off the season with 5 straight wins, including a huge 23-10 win over the Vikings in Minnesota. Aaron Rodgers finished with another solid campaign, passing for 26 TDs and 4002 yards. Davante Adams had an injury riddled season but still finished with 997 receiving yards. But the main key for their offence was their running game behind Jones (16 TDs) and Williams. The defence could be an issue as they struggled to stop running backs for much of the season. However, they won 7 of 8 home games and will be favourites to make it 8. Seattle made the trip to Philadelphia for the second time this season and outlasted the Eagles 17-9. DK Metcalf finished with 7 catches and 160 yards/1 TD in the victory as Wilson continually looked in his direction. The problem with their offence is the running game due to a string of injuries. Carson is out and they added the experience of Marshawn Lynch. However, outside of Wilson, they rushed for just 19 yards on 17 carries! So defence is the key for Seattle and they shouldn’t be short of confidence. They’ve won 7 of 8 road games this season so they won’t mind travelling to Green Bay. Injuries have really hit the Seahawks late in the season and without a successful running game, it’s hard to see how they can beat the in-form Packers. Green Bay has struggled against the run this season but Seattle just don’t have the weapons in-order to make the pay. The Seahawks also couldn’t put away the Eagles and a second string QB last week so the Packers will be a tougher challenge. They also have a poor 0-5 ATS record at this venue and 2-5 ATS in divisional playoff games.
Green Bay is 5-0 at home and 5-0 against the Seahawks here. the Seahawks last played at Lambeau in 2017 and lost 17-9.
Head to Head Record
This is the first playoff meeting since 2015 when the Seahawks won 28-22 in Seattle. But in Green Bay, the Seahawks haven’t won here since 1999.
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