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SportWhich top NFL playoff team is at biggest risk of divisional-round upset?

15:42  11 january  2019
15:42  11 january  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

A wild card game may be just what the doctor ordered for the Cowboys’ playoff woes

A wild card game may be just what the doctor ordered for the Cowboys’ playoff woes A wild card game may be what Dallas needs to finally nab a postseason victory.

The NFL playoffs are a single-elimination tournament held after the National Football League ( NFL )'s regular season to determine the NFL champion.

NFL divisional round picks: Which home teams are in trouble this week? Will the Chiefs upset the Patriots? Can the Panthers knock off the Seahawks to extend their Given that teams quarterbacked by Peyton Manning have logged an astounding nine one-and-dones in the playoffs , how can you

Which top NFL playoff team is at biggest risk of divisional-round upset?© Provided by USA Today Sports Media Group LLC Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) reacts after a play against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium.

An upset alert shouldn't be necessary to make the top-seeded teams in the NFL playoffs aware of the imminent threat facing them this weekend.

Three of the four outfits that advanced from last week's wild-card round, after all, did so on the road. And only once this decade (in 2015) have the top two seeds on each side advanced to the conference championship games.

But while this weekend's traveling teams collectively posted a 18-14 mark as visitors this season, the foursome of teams hosting after a first-round bye (the Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams) combined for a 28-4 record at home.

Chiefs Open as 5.5-Point Favorites Over Colts in Divisional Round

Chiefs Open as 5.5-Point Favorites Over Colts in Divisional Round Chiefs Open as 5.5-Point Favorites Over Colts in Divisional Round

See the NFL Playoffs standings and wild card game schedule if the season ended today. subsequent applications of the tie breaker if the top -ranked team in that division qualifies for a Wild-Card berth. The losers of the Divisional playoff games shall select 25th through 28th based on

The league 's top eight teams will scramble to advance to the conference championships. Now that the field is set for next weekend's divisional round -- when the league 's top eight teams will Titans lowdown: Tennessee has already advanced further than most thought after upsetting the Chiefs in

In light of that, we asked our NFL experts: Which team coming off a first-round bye is at the biggest risk of falling in a divisional-round upset?

Nancy Armour

I love Patrick Mahomes and everything he’s done for the Chiefs this season, and would like to think he’s going to be the one to end Kansas City’s long, long, long history of playoff heartbreak. Especially against the Indianapolis Colts. But until it actually happens, I can’t ignore the karma. Kansas City has lost 10 of its last 11 playoff games – that one victory came against Brian Hoyer and the Houston Texans – and is 0-4 against Indianapolis in the postseason. That includes the most crushing loss of all, the 2013 wild-card game in which Kansas City blew a 28-point lead and lost 45-44. Mahomes and Andy Reid have said all the right things this week, but I’m going to have to see it to believe it.

Rivers versus Brady in divisional round of NFL playoffs

Rivers versus Brady in divisional round of NFL playoffs Philip Rivers versus Tom Brady highlights next weekend's divisional round of the NFL playoffs. 

Upsets come in all shapes and sizes, and for the four underdogs in the NFL 's divisional round , there are clear paths to the conference championship Here are ways in which each divisional game could see a surprise ending. • Super Bowl XLIX: Ranking best matchups | Complete NFL playoff schedule.

Upset ! Top seed toppled in game that kicks off NFL Divisional Round playoffs . It’s a hunch. And a risky one. Few are on board with us here. I’d still not write- off the ‘Boys’ chances to advance, though. Ezekiel Elliott will be at work vs. the NFL ’s 23rd-ranked run defense, one that gave up a

Jarrett Bell

The Chiefs. After watching all three quarterbacks who made their playoff debuts last weekend lose, that’s not a good omen for projected MVP Patrick Mahomes. No, the NFL-record 6 consecutive playoff home losses by KC isn’t on Mahomes...who wasn’t even born the last time the home team won in the playoffs at Arrowhead. But there’s just something spooky about that. Add Capt. Andrew Luck maybe carving up a suspect Chiefs defense, and I think we might see this No. 1 seed bite the dust. Of course, Mr. 50 Touchdowns has spent an entire season proving doubters wrong. And on a personal note, Andy Reid has made me look foolish multiple times when picking against him. But to borrow phrasing from my former colleague, Gordon Forbes, I just can’t shake the feeling KC’s season is about to be BBQ’d.

Nate Davis

Maybe the question for the bye week playoff teams should be, “Who’s not at risk?” All of them feel fairly vulnerable to me with the exception of New Orleans. But maybe the Rams are in the most jeopardy. Their “home” game threatens to be overrun by Cowboys fans and a team that seems well-equipped to pull off the upset at the L.A. Coliseum, where the Rams lost their wild-card contest to the Falcons a year ago. Dallas just locked down Seattle’s top-ranked ground game and will next face Todd Gurley, who’s probably going to be less than 100% after a knee issue forced him to miss two games. More worrisome, as much talent as the Rams defense has, it surrendered a league-worst 5.1 yards per carry … and is now tasked with slowing league rushing champ Zeke Elliott and highly mobile QB Dak Prescott? Gulp.

NFL picks: Divisional round

NFL picks: Divisional round Here's a look at our NFL divisional round picks against the spread as of Tuesday, Jan. 8. Lines are from Pinnacle Sports. Wild-card round picks went 1-3, and picks are 130-125-4 overall this season. Chiefs -5.0 vs. Colts Chiefs fans seem to be frightened by this game, though it's unclear if that's due to the team's recent playoff blunders, Andy Reid's playoff history or the Colts. Indianapolis is a formidable foe, winning 10 of its last 11 games, but the Colts haven't beaten a team close to K.C.'s strength during that stretch. In fact, the Colts have had the eighth-easiest schedule, and the Chiefs were the first team in NFL history to score at least 26 points in every game.

The 2010 divisional round included two upsets : Packers over Falcons, with Green Bay going on to beat Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV, and Jets Eight first-round playoff games would clutter TV, kind of like the endless and growing series of college bowl games. Two playoff games each on Saturday

With that in mind, we look ahead to the divisional - round matchups with one big question for each of the eight teams . Pittsburgh Steelers: Will they be at full strength? So shaken are the Steelers by the number of recent playoff runs that have been done in by injuries to Roethlisberger, Bell and Brown

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Jori Epstein

The Rams. The Cowboys’ top-5 run D is riding momentum after holding the Seahawks – 160 yards per game in the regular season – to 73 in a wildcard win. Rams all-pro running back Todd Gurley, on the other hand, is returning from nearly a month on the sideline with knee inflammation and soreness. Dallas will have its hand full containing an offense that’s averaged 37.1 points at their home Coliseum. Dak Prescott, too, must take care not to turn over the ball. But if the team follows the blueprint it used to hold the ball 9:40 more than the Seahawks last week, Ezekiel Elliott can capitalize on a Rams defense allowing a league-worst 5.1 yards per carry. Add in the star-studded Cowboys fans expected to line the Coliseum? Dallas upsets a young L.A. offense to reach its first NFC Championship Game in 23 years.

Mike Jones

I’m going to say the Kansas City Chiefs. Their offense just hasn’t been quite the same since losing Kareem Hunt, and their defensive shortcomings are well-documented. Meanwhile, they’re facing one of the most well-rounded – and underrated – teams in the postseason. The Colts of course have Andrew Luck, and his experience could give him an edge over counterpart Patrick Mahomes, but they can also run the ball effectively, and they have a very good defense. Even though they’re playing at home, I think the Chiefs have a very strong chance of being upset this weekend.

Gurley, Rams run through Cowboys, advance with 30-22 victory

Gurley, Rams run through Cowboys, advance with 30-22 victory Gurley, Rams run through Cowboys, advance with 30-22 victory

USA TODAY Sports' divisional round NFL playoff picks. The NFL 's divisional playoff weekend approaches with a scrumptious quartet of games on the menu. With the exception of Eagles-Saints — New Orleans is the most heavily favored team this weekend — our panel of USA TODAY Sports' NFL

NFL picks 2019: Holding out hope for Chargers, Colts divisional round upsets . New, 1 comment. Can’t miss picks for every playoff game! Outside of that Eagles-Saints game, this looks to be an extraordinarily tough week to predict which teams will win their Divisional Round matchups.

Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz

Going against the one NFL team that went 8-0 at home this year seems foolhardy, and Tom Brady is still undefeated (7-0) against Philip Rivers. But these aren't the Patriots or Chargers teams of old. With Josh Gordon suspended indefinitely and Rob Gronkowski not up to his play of years past, the Patriots are putting a lot on the plate of their quarterback, who posted the lowest passer rating (97.7) of his last four seasons and has off at times. The Chargers, meanwhile, shape up as arguably the AFC's most balanced and versatile outfit. Anthony Lynn's group also has a 7-1 away record but actually boasts a 9-0 mark in games played outside of Los Angeles. If New England doesn't establish an early lead and dictate the tone, it could find itself in for a battle against an underdog that actually finished with a superior record.

Lorenzo Reyes

Admittedly, everything in my mind is telling me this is the wrong choice, but I can’t shake a gut feeling that the Chargers are going to head to Foxborough and topple the Patriots. Because L.A.’s game plan in the wild-card round against the Ravens was so innovative – they used seven defensive backs on all but one of their defensive snaps to match Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson’s speed – I expect the Chargers to come up with something to neutralize New England’s passing game, especially with throws to running backs. Also, the Los Angeles pass rush has been ascending and if it can pressure Brady – especially up the middle – the New England offense may struggle. As long as Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon keep moving the ball, I think the Chargers will put up enough points to win.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Which top NFL playoff team is at biggest risk of divisional-round upset?

Related slideshow: Best of NFL playoffs (provided by USA Today Sports)

Which top NFL playoff team is at biggest risk of divisional-round upset?

10 biggest standouts of the NFL Divisional Round.
The games may not have been as competitive from start-to-finish as viewers may have liked, but the divisional round of the playoffs still offered up a lot of great and memorable moments. It also provided some remarkable performances by players who either defied odds or tore up opposition with remarkable efficiency. Here’s a look at 10 of the biggest standouts of the NFL’s Divisional Round. Sean Payton, head coach, Saints The Saints fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter of their game against the Philadelphia Eagles and didn’t appear to be getting any closer to making the breakthrough until, at Payton’s direction, they engineered two game-changing moments.

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