gfoster (Geoff Fostersports activities editor): The Divisionals returned normalcy to the NFL. All 4 house favorites gained outright – three of them coated the unfold comfortably. There shall be no wild card workforce making a run this yr, which looks like a more durable and more durable path to the Tremendous Bowl. However let’s begin with the final staff to get in, the Saints, who have been the one house favourite to not cowl, they usually truly needed to dig out of a 14-Zero gap as Philly seemed primed for an additional upset. So, is Foles Magic formally lifeless? And, the place is Foles enjoying subsequent yr?
Salfino (Michael Salfinocontributor): Foles appears to have stated his goodbye to Philadelphia. So it appears protected to say he’s leaving.
joshua.hermsmeyer (Josh HermsmeyerNFL analyst): Hanging this on Foles appears deeply improper. On that final drive, it was the receivers that failed, not Foles. That stated, since we’re positing magic, I assume it’s true it’s gone.
gfoster: I wasn’t blaming Foles. I truly thought he performed nice.
neil (Neil Painesenior sportswriter): Foles began the sport so scorching. The script appeared to be writing itself. However after these early drives, he actually reverted again to the QB he has often been over his profession.
Salfino: The final drive was undoubtedly not Foles’s fault however after these first two drives, he actually didn’t make a play.
neil: In quarters two via 4, Foles went 10-22 for four.Zero YPA and Zero TDs, 2 INTs
gfoster: OK, so perhaps “nice” was a attain.
neil: (Brees, in the meantime, went 26-32 for Eight.5 YPA and a couple of TDs, Zero INTs after a tough first quarter begin — actually as tough because it will get on the primary play of the sport.)
gfoster: I really feel like somebody might have huddled up with the Eagles protection and stated “Hey, I feel they may be making an attempt to throw to Michael Thomas; ought to we do one thing about that?”
Salfino: Ginn was open, too, by a few steps. Brees additionally was brief on one other throw later to Taysom Hill. However he was actually good at attacking the deeper center of the sector, particularly on third down. Plus the Eagles helped by struggling a spate of accidents.
neil: And at one level the Saints appeared to be doing all the things they might to offer the sport away with penalties.
gfoster: The Saints appeared to virtually abandon the run, which could be very in contrast to them. And till that late 36-yard run by Ingram, the Eagles took Kamara and Ingram principally out of the sport plan, it appeared.
joshua.hermsmeyer: I feel Foles will get employed on someplace, but when I have been a GM I might let the opposite man overpay for his providers. His completion proportion by depth is absolutely simply common. Overpaying for common is a workforce killer until you’re completely loaded in all places else.
Salfino: I’m stunned that the Saints barely gained play success over the Eagles. However that simply exhibits you that they have been unreal on third downs — Eight-for-15, and a number of them a excessive diploma of problem.
neil: And Foles’s third-down magic appeared to desert the Eagles. They solely went 2-for-7 in the course of the recreation on third downs. Often third-down effectivity is a calling card of those Foles playoff runs.
joshua.hermsmeyer: Neil beat me to it.
Salfino: Re: Josh’s level, it’s very easy to say to not overpay for a QB until you don’t have a QB. Somebody goes to provide Foles $100 million. I see the Giants or Jaguars because the touchdown spots for Foles.
gfoster: Josh, I don’t know what staff matches that invoice and wishes a quarterback. It might virtually have to be just like the Sam Bradford commerce a pair years in the past when Teddy Bridgewater received harm. Perhaps Washington provides him massive cash as a result of they’re mess and do not know what they’re doing?
neil: The Giants can be HILARIOUS. Jettisoning Eli for principally a youthful Eli
Salfino: Washington simply gave big-ish cash to Alex Smith although.
gfoster: Yeah, however his profession is probably over. What do they do?
Salfino: Somebody on my Twitter mentions stated that Foles is the brand new Earl Morrall. (I favored that.)
joshua.hermsmeyer: Googles Earl Morrall
gfoster: LOL. Right here you go.
neil: Ooooh, I like that. Or perhaps Craig Morton? LOL.
Salfino: Morton was by no means actually a backup although. He was a part of the two-QB rotation with Staubach. Morton I consider has the all-time document for yards per completion in a season. Morrall had a magical MVP season in 1968 after which flagged the Tremendous Bowl towards the Jets with all these picks after which principally disappeared till Shula resurfaced him in Miami after Griese received harm in the course of the good 1972 season.
gfoster: Let’s keep within the NFC and speak concerning the Rams. Are we feeling higher about them? They survived one other robust street contest at residence this weekend.
neil: I beloved how they utterly ran over the Cowboys D.
joshua.hermsmeyer: The truth that there isn’t a prime 10 protection left within the playoffs confirms all my priors and warms my cockles.
neil: Who knew CJ Anderson can be such an efficient featured again? Or, like, their featured again at ALL?
Salfino: The Rams had 51.three % play success, which is oddly precisely what the Patriots registered. CJ Anderson was hilarious in killing all of the Gurley DFS guys however truly fairly efficient. A generational expertise, some might say.
gfoster: Gurley acquired his factors, although.
neil: (Kinda speaks to your story earlier this season, Josh, about Gurley being type of a product of McVay and that offensive scheme.)
joshua.hermsmeyer: That (extremely giant) gap Gurley ran by way of for his lengthy TD was a lot not Gurley it was superb.
Salfino: Is Gurley like Marshall Faulk with the St. Louis Rams, “the queen on the chessboard,” or is he replaceable? I might have thought the previous, for positive.
neil: One factor on the Rams is that Goff didn’t essentially play all that properly. Once more.
gfoster: Think about what Zeke would do in that Rams offense. As a result of he appears to should work for each yard, no matter how a lot reward the Dallas O-line used to get or perhaps nonetheless will get.
Salfino: Yeah, I’ve a tough time envisioning Goff beating Brees in New Orleans. Large home-road splits for Goff, too. Does Jason Garrett get that extension nonetheless?
joshua.hermsmeyer: I noticed a report that Garrett will get prolonged. Does anybody assume he deserves it?
Salfino: The Cowboys offense is sweet if it’s working but when it’s not working, Garrett by no means appears to have the ability to determine one thing out on the fly. Garrett is bizarre in that he’s a CEO coach, however is so intently tied to the offense, which he doesn’t actually run.
So what’s Garrett’s worth, actually? Managing the employees? Managing the sport? I feel if you find yourself a CEO coach you must have a very robust character like a Invoice Parcells, be that “chief of males.” This isn’t Garrett, IMO. He simply appears simply replaceable.
joshua.hermsmeyer: He’s elite at clapping.
Salfino: Lombardi ended his clapping, which is gloomy.
neil: Yeah, I don’t perceive Jerry Jones’s fascination with Garrett. It’s like they have been on the lookout for ANY excuse in any way to increase him.
gfoster: I simply don’t assume it’s a fascinating job to teach with Jerry respiration down your neck.
Salfino: Keep in mind, Jones doesn’t need a robust character that may principally kick him out of the locker room and inform him to remain in his proprietor’s lane.
neil: He’s going to finish up being one of many longest tenured coaches ever, and his document will pale as compared with the others within the dialog. (Besides perhaps Marvin Lewis.)
joshua.hermsmeyer: For all of the grief Jones will get, he does appear extremely loyal, and that may be a terrific boss to have in a league just like the NFL that strikes on from most coaches far too shortly. Stability does have worth.
Salfino: He’s principally Marvin Lewis, who additionally was a CEO coach with no actually robust character/tradition. Inform that to Jimmy Johnson?:
gfoster: Going again to Rams-Saints: The Saints misplaced their beginning DT, Sheldon Rankins, to a attainable torn Achilles. That’s an enormous loss, particularly to be down an enormous inside lineman towards the Rams.
joshua.hermsmeyer: Mike, good level about Jimmy Johnson.
neil: The best way the Rams have been clearing area towards Dallas was unreal. In line with ESPN Stats & Information Group, the Rams rushed 33 occasions for 195 yards and averaged four.1 yards per carry earlier than first contact between the tackles.
Salfino: Perhaps that may trick the Rams into operating much more, particularly on first down, proper Josh?
joshua.hermsmeyer: You by no means need to lose a starter, but when I needed to decide a place to lose, give me DT.
gfoster: That’s truthful.
Salfino: Precisely proper. If it’s a move rusher DT, OK, that’s worrisome. However there are solely like a type of and he’s on the opposite workforce. The place are the large performs within the Rams passing recreation? They’re going to wish some, I’m sure, to win.
neil: True, their longest reception vs. Dallas was a 21-yarder to Brandin Cooks.
Salfino: 186 passing yards on 28 makes an attempt isn’t the Rams offense from October, for positive.
joshua.hermsmeyer: With the lack of Rankins and their success with play-action, I might assume the shot performs would come there. The linebackers might attempt to make up for Rankins’s loss by dishonest a bit greater than standard.
Salfino: Are they nonetheless profitable at play-action, Josh? I feel that’s debatable.
joshua.hermsmeyer: They did OK with it towards Dallas I feel.
neil: Sure, Goff was 6-of-11 for 108 yards off play-action vs the Cowboys. That’s not as superb as their early-season requirements. However it’s nonetheless a lot better than when he handed with out play-action.
gfoster: Let’s speak concerning the AFC. The Chargers, who have been 9-Zero on the street, obtained completely destroyed by the Patriots. This was the one recreation that appeared utterly over within the first quarter.
Salfino: Yeah, attending to Josh’s level, the Patriots-Chargers have been exhibit A in “offense principally controls outcomes.”
neil: Basic Patriots residence divisional-round win.
Salfino: I completely hated the workforce flying again to Los Angeles after the Wild Card win in Baltimore.
gfoster: I feel individuals are likely to obese air journey. However perhaps you’re proper on this case.
joshua.hermsmeyer: The win chance charts principally concur together with your evaluation Geoff.
neil: I do marvel how a lot the journey needed to do with it. They appeared out of types a lot of the recreation, particularly on protection early. Didn’t assist that their bizarre hybrid LB/DB scheme was completely ineffective towards Brady and the Pats.
Salfino: I hate a West Coast staff within the early slot in a playoff recreation, however the Chargers have been their very own worst enemy in opting to return house. Nonetheless, it in all probability wouldn’t have mattered, as flat as Los Angeles appeared (particularly with the missed tackles). The Patriots have been flawless. Brady appeared like a unique participant, and there are stories that trick play with him as a receiver towards the Titans harm his knee fairly badly. He was capable of apply absolutely once more although.
joshua.hermsmeyer: Indignant Tom within the chilly is the narrative, I feel.
Salfino: Did you see how the Patriots taped that thermostat on the wall the place the Chargers needed to come out on the sector? Appears lame however perhaps it labored.
gfoster: Additionally, individuals spent all week speaking about Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. That’s not too related once you dump the ball to James White 15 to 20 occasions a recreation.
neil: Tactically, you need to recognize the best way they used their RBs towards Los Angeles’s protection. Sony Michel ran for 129 and three TDs, plus James White had 15 catches out of the backfield. The Chargers had no reply for that assault. Michel was averaging four.6 YPC with eight-plus defenders within the field towards a protection that had smothered the run-heavy Ravens every week earlier than.
Salfino: The Patriots are all spares and no strikes now. They ran a ton with Michel. That they had 15 catches for underneath 100 yards from White. Edelman received some massive performs someway, however he’s not a gamebreaker. Gronk had one catch. However this hyper effectivity works for them as a result of they keep away from errors. I’m unsure why the Chargers caught with the Ravens protection with all these defensive backs. The Patriots usually are not a quick workforce in any respect. You need extra measurement towards them.
neil: Nicely, individuals spent all week saying they’d revolutionized NFL protection with that scheme.
joshua.hermsmeyer: Towards a cellular QB, I feel it’s an incredible protection. Towards a pocket passer, I’m unsure what you’re gaining.
Salfino: The distinction between the Patriots and different groups is that they remedy the puzzle with an opponent and transfer on to the subsequent opponent. They don’t convey no matter labored one week essentially into the subsequent.
gfoster: Is Gronk a priority? Or not a lot? Contemplating we’ve seen them go on SB runs with out him earlier than. He virtually received the Bronx cheer from the Foxboro crowd when he made that one catch.
joshua.hermsmeyer: Gronk had a implausible day…checks notes…blocking.
Salfino: Gronk’s yards per goal this yr was nonetheless good. He did achieve 27 yards on that one play. It’s exhausting for me to consider he’s shot. He’s clearly not the identical participant, however I feel he can nonetheless be efficient. The Chargers are actually designed to cease tight ends, although, with Derwin James.
gfoster: Additionally, is it me, or did Rivers’s deep balls look horrible? Simply floating up within the wind, asking Mike Williams to make leap ball catches 40 yards downfield.
neil: In equity, he was beneath heavy strain a lot of the sport.
Salfino: Williams has to make that catch, Geoff. I assumed Rivers had lots of pop on most of his throws. However the Patriots performed that Ravens blitzing protection and it actually stunned Rivers. By the point he adjusted, the sport was over.
neil: In response to ESPN’s Stats & Info Group, Rivers was pressured 24 occasions towards New England, which was most of any quarterback in a playoff recreation within the final 10 seasons.
joshua.hermsmeyer: What’s fascinating is that whereas the Chargers stored their Ravens protection, the Patriots adopted the Ravens protection with their cover-zero appears and large strain on Rivers.
Salfino: Sure, fascinating however clearly not shocking that Belichick out-coached Lynn. That was the large fear for the Chargers on this recreation.What was fascinating and unknown was “how” Belichick would get the sting.
gfoster: Rivers’s deep ball appeared like me making an attempt deep passes in Thanksgiving contact soccer. “I received somebody on the market, so simply going to heave it and hope for the most effective.”
Salfino: That is what these Ravens blitzes scale back you to, low-percentage deep throws.
What’s humorous is that precisely nobody thinks that the Patriots having had success blitzing are going to deliver that into the Chiefs recreation.
gfoster: When the Chiefs performed the Pats within the common season, it was 43-40 and doubtless probably the most entertaining recreation of the season. I don’t assume we’ll see 80+ factors once more. Or will we? The Chiefs protection appears to have improved just lately.
Salfino: I feel we do see 80 factors once more.
gfoster: Fascinating. Even when circumstances are a lot worse?
Salfino: If it’s windy, that’s an issue. Chilly? Nah. Until it’s Ice Bowl-like.
neil: Definitely looks like Patriots punter Ryan Allen in all probability gained’t get as a lot of a exercise as Rigoberto Sanchez towards KC. Appeared like each time you seemed up, Indy was punting.
gfoster: Judging by the Chargers video games, I wasn’t conscious the Patriots had a punter.
Salfino: Luck was so dangerous. It appeared like each different cross was deflected on the line. The primary three, I’m fairly positive, although whether or not the primary move of the sport was tipped shouldn’t be completely clear. That needs to be a report although.
joshua.hermsmeyer: Relating to the entire, Vegas has it at 57.5. That’s tremendous excessive. I’m unsure I take the over.
gfoster: Kareem Hunt totaled 185 mixed yards in that Patriots recreation. However Damien Williams has made individuals overlook about him fairly shortly. Apparently, Patriots have been capable of restrict Kelce’s manufacturing (considerably), which the Colts had no reply for.
Salfino: OK, I revise my prediction because the forecast is for a excessive of 16 levels on Sunday.
joshua.hermsmeyer: If Sammy Watkins can contribute massive, high-leverage performs, I feel he might be one too many weapons for the Patriots to account for.
Salfino: Belichick needs to x-out Kelce in these video games. After which Hill kills them. Additionally Hunt out of the backfield within the final recreation, although that’s not a menace.
neil: Gosh, that 57.5 is with the temperature baked into the over/beneath? (Nicely, perhaps not “baked.” Frozen?) What wouldn’t it be in a dome?
Salfino: Hunt truly killed the Patriots as a receiver within the final two video games they performed. Can Williams perform this manner? I don’t see it.
gfoster: Climate strikes the full greater than something (besides quarterback accidents), so we’ll see what occurs with that line.
Salfino: No considerable wind within the forecast, although about 20 mph on Saturday so perhaps that’s a menace, too. I inform all my fantasy pals, it’s simply wind aside from tremendous excessive circumstances on the opposite aspect — chilly, rain or snow. And actually wind at over 20 mph solely.
gfoster: Who does the climate assist although? You may argue the Patriots. Has Mahomes performed in video games this chilly? Brady positive has.
joshua.hermsmeyer: I’m going to fade the concept one thing like climate can cease Mahomes. Whereas it didn’t snow as a lot individuals envisioned, the Indianapolis recreation was a lot chilly and Mahomes seemed implausible.
neil: For the sake of enjoyable trivia, it was 17 levels in Mahomes’ debut begin. (In line with PFR, that’s the coldest recreation he’s performed as a professional.)
Salfino: Brady has performed one recreation in 10 levels or colder — in 2003. He had a 73.three passer score. (Notice that features playoffs.)
joshua.hermsmeyer: Are any of you choosing the Patriots?
gfoster: Nice segue! Let’s shut with our Tremendous Bowl predictions.
neil: If the sport was at Foxboro, I’d give it some thought. However Brady hasn’t gained a street playoff recreation since this wacky one towards the Chargers. Onerous to consider! However Pats often play at house in lead-up to Tremendous Bowl.
gfoster: That’s the place the game-sealing interception was fumbled for a primary down?
Salfino: He’s Zero-2 since then.
neil: Sure, the Marlon McCree recreation.
Salfino: So I’ll stick to my Chiefs-Saints Tremendous Bowl.
neil: I’ll do the identical!
Salfino: Save us, Josh.
joshua.hermsmeyer: I feel we’ll see the proverbial passing of the torch from Previous Indignant Tom to Mahomes, kinda like when Favre beat Younger within the playoffs. And I nonetheless just like the Rams within the NFC.
neil: Josh, Elias says that is the most important age distinction in a QB matchup in convention champ historical past.
joshua.hermsmeyer: Nice stat
neil: I’m additionally wanting ahead to Mahomes probably doubling the document for playoff wins by a Massive 12 quarterback.
gfoster: I additionally will take the Chiefs. However I’m going to say Chiefs-Rams simply because I nonetheless haven’t seen the return of that devastating Saints offense. It’s been hibernating because the loss to the Cowboys in Week 13. The Saints managed simply 20 factors towards a banged-up Eagles protection. It appeared like a wrestle at occasions, although a variety of that was self-inflicted penalties. Brees was beneath plenty of strain. Trubisky even had extra passing yards than Brees! Trubisky!!!
Salfino: I’ll defend the Saints. That they had 420 yards to 250 for the Eagles. That’s truly 28 anticipated factors (method is some extent each 15 yards from scrimmage). To me, that’s fairly near being on schedule. I imply, that they had 25 first downs.
gfoster: You realize what the Saints want Mike, proper?
Salfino: Don’t say it, Geoff.
gfoster: Extra Taysom Hill gadget performs!
Salfino: Payton was decided to make noise with Hill in that recreation.
Salfino: Who would Taysom Hill be within the Star Wars universe? (Solely episodes I-III.)
gfoster: He’s younger Anakin in Episode I. Ten minutes into the film, you’re like “Is that this child actually going to play this massive of a task, right here?”
joshua.hermsmeyer: I used to be going to say Porkins. “Keep on course.”
gfoster: I might like to see a close-up of Brees’s face each time he’s set out broad with Hill beneath middle; I really feel like he’s rolling his eyes — however I can’t make sure.
Salfino: Ha ha ha.
joshua.hermsmeyer: His physique language instills worry within the DB each time.
neil: In the future, Brees will burn somebody excessive.
Salfino: Brees has giant palms and doubtless might win 50/50 balls.
joshua.hermsmeyer: It doesn’t matter what mixture of groups finally makes it, that is the right 4 groups within the championship spherical, and the right finish to the best offensive season in NFL historical past.
neil: Agreed! It’s the primary time because the 1970 merger that every of the highest 4 groups in scoring made the convention title recreation.
gfoster: We needed offense. We acquired offense. Will see you subsequent week once we know who’s heading to Tremendous Bowl LIII in Atlanta.