Thursday, January 18, 2018

2017-18 NFL playoff predictions (Part 3 – Championship)



Welcome to part three of Thunderbirds101’s NFL playoff predictions. A rubbish one for four on my Divisional predictions; my only correct prediction was the Patriots trouncing the Titans. Curiously, I once again correctly predicted the exact number of points the New Orleans Saints would score, but they still lost. Let’s hope for more success with the Championship games.

There are now four potential Super Bowl matchups:
New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles
New England Patriots vs. Minnesota Vikings
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Minnesota Vikings

Which matchup will it be? Let’s take a look.

Thunderbirds101's picks


AFC


#1 New England Patriots vs. #3 Jacksonville Jaguars
It’s the battle of Brady versus Bortles! There is no baseline for these two teams this season; the last time they met was in the preseason back in August 2017, where the Jaguars won 34-21. Fast forward to January 2018: the Patriots are fresh off a decisive 35-14 victory over the Titans, and the Jaguars defeated the Bills 10-3 and then narrowly escaped with a 45-52 win against the Steelers.

The Jaguars have a formidable defense, and as demonstrated against the Steelers, can convert their opponent’s mistakes into points. The Patriots, however, now pose the most serious threat to the Jaguars’ defense. The Patriots’ O-line never collapsed against the Titans, and Brady easily outmaneuvered the opposition. Either the Jaguars break that O-line, or their season is finished.

There’s also a slight problem for the Jaguars: they have never won in Foxborough.

Ever.

There’s always a first time for everything, but it will not happen this year.

Prediction: Patriots win, 35-17.

Result: Patriots win, 24-20.

T-Bird’s comments after the game:
For most of the the game, the Jaguars looked strong. It all collapsed in the fourth quarter as Tom Brady, who had struggled throughout the game, threw two touchdowns to Danny Amendola, the second of which proved to be the game winner.

The Patriots O-line was breached repeatedly, giving Tom Brady an even tougher challenge on top of his injured hand. Regardless, Brady found a way to evade the Jaguars defense at the most opportune times, delivering a heartbreaking end to the Jaguars' surprising playoff run.

The New England Patriots advance to Super Bowl 52 in Minneapolis! 

NFC


#1 Philadelphia Eagles vs. #2 Minnesota Vikings
The Eagles defense held strong against the Falcons, resulting in a relatively low-scoring 15-10 victory. Not content with such a boring, low energy victory, the Vikings went all in: they went up 17-0 but failed to maintain the lead and fell behind in the fourth quarter until Marcus Williams tackled a ghost and Stefon Diggs hauled in an insane last-second touchdown for a 29-24 victory.

Defense will be key in this matchup. The Vikings need to avoid a repeat of the second half of the Divisional game, when the Vikings defense fell apart and only a last-second miracle prevented a tragic defeat. The Eagles must continue to stand strong, even more so against an energized Vikings team. Further, the Eagles need to step up their offense if they hope to contain the Vikings. Fifteen points may have been enough to defeat the Falcons, but it won’t be enough to defeat the Vikings.

Prediction: Vikings win, 21-20.

Result: Eagles win, 38-7.

T-Bird’s comments after the game:
We turn now to live footage of the Minnesota Vikings:
The Vikings opened the game with a strong first drive, scoring a touchdown on their first possession.
 
And that was it.
 
The Eagles unleashed an unstoppable fury against the Vikings, scoring 38 unanswered points and capitalizing on numerous mistakes by the Vikings. Perhaps the second half of the Vikings-Saints game was an early warning about the Vikings defense, but this time the Vikings offense made a triumphant entrance and fell flat on their faces. 

A rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX it is, then.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

2017-18 NFL playoff predictions (Part 2 – Divisional)



Welcome to part two of Thunderbirds101’s NFL playoff predictions. Two for four on my Wild Card predictions; missed both games on Saturday, but correctly predicted the winners of Sunday’s games, even so far as correctly deducing the number of points the New Orleans Saints will score. Let’s hope for a four-for-four outcome on the Divisional picks!

Let’s roll. 

Thunderbirds101's picks



AFC


#1 New England Patriots vs. #5 Tennessee Titans
The Patriots enjoyed a first-round bye in the playoffs after going 13-3 in the regular season. Aside from a stumble against the Miami Dolphins in early December, the Patriots are entering the playoffs with overwhelming momentum. The Tennessee Titans, meanwhile, emerged as the 22-21 comeback winners in their Wild Card game against the “it was 21-3” Kansas City Chiefs.

The Patriots are no Kansas City Chiefs. Tom Brady will work his magic as usual and ensure the Titans won’t have even a fighting chance.

Prediction: Patriots win, 38-18.

Result: Patriots win, 35-14.

T-Bird’s comments after the game:
We turn now to live footage of the Titans:
As expected, the Titans didn't stand a chance. The Titans jumped out to a 7-0 lead, but New England scored 35 points in a row to ensure the Titans would not win the day. The Titans' O-line was repeatedly shredded, whereas the Patriots' O-line held strong throughout the game. The Patriots continue to demonstrate their exceptional capabilities; they are eager to return to the Super Bowl for the third time in four years.

*

#2 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. #3 Jacksonville Jaguars
Back in October there was a disaster at Heinz Field. The Jacksonville Jaguars routed the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-9, capitalizing on a catastrophic five interceptions thrown by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. It was the Steelers’ worst performance all season, and yet it marked a turning point. Since that dismal game, the Steelers have won ten of their last eleven games; momentum is on their side.

The Jackonville Jaguars, meanwhile, hope to repeat their trouncing of the Steelers after defeating the Buffalo Bills 10-3 in a Wild Card snoozefest. A repeat of the October rout seems unlikely.

Prediction: Steelers win, 28-21.

Result: Jaguars win, 45-42.

T-Bird’s comments after the game:
At first glance, a three-point win isn't a rout. But upon closer inspection, the Jaguars shredded the Steelers. The Jaguars burst out to a 20-0 lead and converted Pittsburgh's mistakes into points. The Steelers never held the lead during the game and a fourth quarter resurgence failed as the Jaguars kicked a late field goal to keep the game out of reach. The ultimate test now awaits the Jaguars: the Patriots.

~

NFC


#1 Philadelphia Eagles vs. #6 Atlanta Falcons
The sixth seed ranking for the Atlanta Falcons is misleading. The Falcons’ defense extinguished the explosive Los Angeles Rams offense and there’s no sign of any letting up as the Falcons take on the Philadelphia Eagles.

For the Eagles, losing star quarterback Carson Wentz to a devastating ACL injury in the regular season leaves serious doubts about the team’s playoff abilities. The Falcons smothered the Rams with ease, and it seems likely they will accomplish the same against the Eagles.

Prediction: Falcons win, 31-24.

Result: Eagles win, 15-10.

T-Bird’s comments after the game
The Falcons defense showed up for the most part, but their offense did a few things in the first half before vanishing in the second half.

The Eagles defense, on the other hand, extinguished the Falcons offense and prevented the Falcons from conducting a repeat of what happened last week with the Rams.

No rematch of the Patriots and Falcons at Super Bowl 52, then.

*

#2 Minnesota Vikings vs. #4 New Orleans Saints
The Vikings, Steelers, and Patriots all had a similar story: struggle in the first few games of the season before embarking on huge winning streaks with only slight turbulence along the way. The Minnesota Vikings, however, finished 13-3 on the regular season with much less fanfare compared to the attention given to the Patriots, Steelers, and the now-eliminated Rams. The Vikings are rested and ready to go against the Saints.

The New Orleans Saints enter the Divisional round after surviving a grueling shootout against the Carolina Panthers. Drew Brees and the offense shredded the Panthers defense, but the Saints showed weaknesses at times. Still, the Saints halted the Panthers in the dying seconds of the game to win the duel. If the Saints can maintain their momentum on offense and tighten up on defense, the Saints can win this battle.

Prediction: Saints win, 24-21.

Result: Vikings win, 29-24.

T-Bird’s comments after the game:
The Vikings exploded out of the gate in the first half, going up 17-0 by halftime. The Saints looked listless and completely unprepared, all the momentum from their win over the Panthers gone.

The Saints exploded out of the gate in the second half, pouncing on a costly interception and a blocked punt to rack up 24 points. The Vikings kept the game close with two field goals, but the Saints were up 24-23 in the game's final minute. The Saints had life, and the Vikings were barely holding on with time rapidly fading.

With mere seconds left, Marcus Williams tackled a ghost, and Stefon Diggs ran a catch into the endzone with no time left and no Saints to stop him. Unbelievable.