NFL Playoff Odds 2017: Vegas Picks And Predictions Ahead Of Divisional Round

It is finally here. After months of stories, controversies, upsets and unsung heroes making their respective marks on the 2017-2018 NFL season, the Patriots and Eagles will meet to decide who walks out of U.S. Bank Stadium as champions. For the Pats, a win would put Tom Brady and Bill Belichick miles ahead of any other quarterback-coach duo in football. Moreover, it would give the franchise six Super Bowl titles, tying New England with the Steelers for most in NFL history and continuing a run of long-term dominance never before seen in league history.

For the Eagles, a win would mean, well, everything. The franchise has known only heartbreak in this situation, and one of the NFL’s most rabid fan bases is desperate for a title. A Philly win would cap off an incredibly unlikely run and instantly vault Doug Pederson near the very top of the NFL coaching heap. Though both teams were the No. 1 seeds in their respective conferences, the Eagles were left for dead the second Carson Wentz’s injury was revealed to be of the season-ending variety. If Philadelphia wins, it would be a true story of the underdog triumphing against all odds, especially fitting for a city whose fictional favorite son did the same.

In any event, let’s break this one down and see who will walk into the frigid Minnesota night a champion.

Philadelphia vs. New England (-4), Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET (NBC)

What else is there to say about Brady and the Pats that hasn’t already been said? Every time they appear to be vulnerable or teetering, they seem to get up off the mat even stronger than before to deliver a knockout punch. Only one team — the New York Giants — has had them on the ropes in the Super Bowl in the Brady-Belichick era and finished the job. 

Rob Gronkowski is expected to play by virtually everyone with a pulse, and if he does, he will present a major problem for the Eagles. Gronkowski is more or less impossible to cover, and even if he is blanketed, Brady has a bevy of secondary options to choose from. If the Patriots’ offensive line protects him well, there’s a pretty good chance he will put up plenty of points on Philadelphia.

On the defensive side, the Pats started the season in atrocious fashion. Matt Patricia’s group was dead last in the league in points allowed, giving up an average of 32 per game over the season’s first four games. After that, they turned things around 180 degrees, and over the last 12 games of the year, they ranked first in the league, giving up a mere 14 points per contest. 

New England’s philosophy is pretty clearly to bend but not break and then rely on Brady to get the Pats up and down the field enough to win. The thing is, they haven’t even been bending much of late. Their biggest challenge in this one will be solving the Eagles’ frequent use of run-pass option plays, or RPOs. If they force Nick Foles to hand the ball off and are able to bring Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount down with consistency, they’ll be in good shape.

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