The BC Lions Special Teams Coach looks at both games and where the battles will be won and lost
Falcons @ Eagles – Saturday 21:35 – Sky Sports NFL
Hey guys, the big games just keep coming and we’ve got four teams who will all think they can go all the way to Minneapolis and Superbowl 52. We start with the Atlanta Falcons, who showed all the experience and playoff poise they possessed to beat the Rams in the Coliseum and book a date with the #1 Eagles.
Whilst the warm climate of LA may have helped the Falcons, they will be in for a shock when they travel to Philly in January. It will be brutal and tough, with the crowd who have been starved of playoff Football for four years and a playoff win for nine years!
It is the first time in the Superbowl era that a #1 seed playing their first playoff game have been underdogs and the Eagles will feel disrespected by that after going 13-3. Well this is a great platform for those men in green to show just how hurt they are. But it’s all about Nick Foles: Can he make enough plays to win the game for them? He doesn’t push the ball down the field that well, but what he does do well is make those 1st down throws from play-action. He’s got a good partnership with Zach Ertz, but he needs to now bring in Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery into the mix.
Foles is effective in the red zone, he has shown that when we’ve seen him this season. However, can he strike when it’s 3rd down and 10 and the Eagles are on plan B and C? If he can, the Eagles can win this game.
Saints @ Vikings – Sunday 21:40 – Sky Sports NFL
There’s no question that the Saints can win this game, if Drew Brees plays the way he did against Carolina. He did things that most QB’s wouldn’t have even tried and played so well from the pocket, bringing in Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. But Carolina had a weak secondary, whilst the Vikings have one of the best defences in Football. Minnesota has the depth across the board to worry teams, there’s multiple pro bowlers across every defensive level. They are equipped to neturalise the Saints.
But on the other side, can Case Keenum make plays? He cannot make turnovers in this game, that will be huge, as will the matchup between Adam Thielen and Marshon Lattimore. The Vikings’ x factor could be their tight ends, Kyle Rudolph has the ability to use his muscle and make space for himself, which could be a big weapon down the stretch.
Many people see this as a shootout but I don’t think it will be. Both teams can score but playoff Football is always played a bit more conservatively. Their defences should be focused and I expect a tight game. But it’ll be a heck of a game to watch!