Steve Believes: 2019-20 Divisional Round

Last week in my Wild Card Round predictions, I went 2-2, as I got both AFC winners (Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans) correct and got both NFC winners (New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles) incorrect.

This week, I make my prediction for the 2019-20 Divisional Round via the bullet points and bold text below:

  • #6 Minnesota Vikings Vs. #1 San Francisco 49ers-After finishing the regular season with two losses in the last two weeks, the Vikings pulled off the upset, by dealing the Saints a third heartbreaking postseason loss in as many as seasons. Now they travel to Levi’s Stadium to take on the top seed in the NFC, the 49ers. As for the NFC’s top seed, they got into this position, by virtue of holding off the Seattle Seahawks to win the NFC West division title, along with owning the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Green Bay Packers. However, the 49ers have been involved in one possession games in each of their last five regular season games and have gone 3-2 in those games. Plus, they have three overall losses, with two of those losses coming at home. Questions abound for the 49ers, such as how well can their offensive line protect Jimmy Garoppolo and how well can their defense do in stopping the run? Both questions will be put to the test against a Minnesota defense that has two tremendous edge rushers in Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter, and a Minnesota rushing attack that was re-energized by the return of Dalvin Cook. The first round bye and home-field advantage suggest that I take the 49ers to win this one. However, being involved in five consecutive one-possession games to end the regular season could catch up to them this postseason. Plus, the Vikings have momentum heading into this game. So with the reality of one-possession games being said, along with what the Vikings have in their arsenal, I’m calling an upset, by predicting that Mike Zimmer’s bunch will knock off the NFC’s top seed. Expect Cook to rush for 100 yards or more, and expect Minnesota’s dynamic duo of defensive ends to have a big game along with Linval Joseph against a 49ers offensive line that is minus Weston Richburg.
  • #6 Tennessee Titans Vs#1 Baltimore Ravens-The Titans did all of the non-New England Patriots fans a favor, by dethroning last season’s Super Bowl champions via a heavy dose of Derrick Henry and excellent coaching by Mike Vrabel. Now they take on the Ravens, winners of 12 games in a row and a number one seed for the first time in franchise history. In four instances where teams have won 10 consecutive games or more heading into the postseason, only one of them (the 2003 Patriots) won the Super Bowl. Vrabel was a part of that Patriots team, the 16-0 Patriots that lost in Super Bowl 42, and a Patriots team that beat a Pittsburgh Steelers team that had 15 in a row (14 in the regular season) in the 2004-05 AFC Championship Game. Plus, he was a part of a Kansas City Chiefs team that was beaten twice in a Los Angeles Chargers 11-game winning streak during the 2009 season, so Vrabel is no stranger to this kind of thing. The Titans have a few components to give the Ravens some trouble in this game, but the Ravens have way more offensive weaponry than the Patriots do and that, along with the Ravens bottling up Derrick Henry, will be the differences in this one. I like the Ravens to advance to their fifth AFC Championship Game in franchise history.
  • #4 Houston Texans Vs#2 Kansas City Chiefs-The Texans return to Arrowhead Stadium for the second time this season, as they are fresh off a 22-19 Wild Card victory against the Buffalo Bills. As for the Chiefs, they get to host a home playoff game with the benefit of a bye week, thanks to their head-to-head victory against the Patriots and the Miami Dolphins’ upset victory of the aforementioned Patriots during Week 17. The Chiefs are also riding a six-game winning streak and have become a better defense since these two teams last met. Plus, they didn’t have Chris Jones in the Week 6 meeting and his presence will give the Houston offense quite a few fits in this one. This is the only Divisional Round game of two teams that met during the regular season. And unlike the Week 6 meeting, the Chiefs will win this time around to get to the AFC Championship Game for the second consecutive season.
  • #5 Seattle Seahawks Vs#2 Green Bay Packers-In what is seemingly a common thread, the Seahawks meet the Packers for the eighth time in as many seasons, with it being the second postseason between these two. Last week, the Seahawks went to 6-0 against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Pete Carroll era, as they won a hard-fought 17-9 game at Lincoln Financial Field. As for the Packers, they are the luckiest team to have a first round bye, as they won quite a few games that they should have lost. Neither team has won on the other’s home field. However, that’s changing in this game, as Russell Wilson will do just a bit more than Aaron Rodgers to lead his team to their first NFC Championship Game since the 2014-15 season.

Well, those are my Divisional Round predictions.

 Tune in next week to see how I did.