NFL Conference Championship Weekend Breakdown

After two weeks of NFL playoff football, four teams remain in the fold with aspirations of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl 53.

The top two seeds in both the NFC – Rams and Saints – and the AFC – Patriots and Chiefs – will face each other for the second time after having already met in the regular season. The Saints defeated the Rams 45-35 during week 9 in the Superdome. The Patriots topped the Chiefs 43-40 on a week 6 Sunday Night Football affair, but that game took place in a different venue than this weekend’s.

The four top offenses in the NFL will be represented during conference championship weekend. It shouldn’t shock anyone that both aforementioned head-to-head games, as well as the Rams’ 54-51 win over the Chiefs in week 11 on Monday Night Football were three of the best games of the regular season.

It won’t be easy for these four teams to replicate the offensive numbers put up from a short while ago. All four squads have film from the previous meetings, in addition to the hours of film compiled up from the divisional round and the last few weeks of the regular season. But after seeing all four teams combine for 163 points in their prior meetings, anything’s possible.

Conference Championship weekend features two games, both on Sunday. Time to see how the Charm City Bird Watch staff thinks these games will play out.


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Image Credit: USA Today

NFC: #2 Los Angeles Rams @ #1 New Orleans Saints – 3:05 pm – FOX

JakeAfter falling victim to the Minneapolis miracle in last year’s divisional round, the Saints are a better team that’s one win away from the Super Bowl. New Orleans has reached the team’s third NFC Championship game of the Drew Brees era. In 2007 the Saints lost to the Chicago Bears, but in 2010 Brees and company took down Brett Favre and the Vikings before winning Super Bowl 44.

Last week’s 30-22 with over the Cowboys did more for the Rams than people realize. In the divisional round last year, the Atlanta Falcons marched into Los Angeles and walked out with a 26-13 win. Sean McVay, Jared Goff and Todd Gurley now have a playoff win under their belts. That alone will give this Rams team confidence entering their third trip (preseason included) to the Superdome this season.

Taking a look at the Rams offense against the Saints defense, Gurley and C.J. Anderson have their work cut out for them against the NFL’s second-ranked run defense. The Saints also racked up the fifth-most sacks in the regular season. If the Rams cannot get the run game going, which they almost fully relied on last week against Dallas, Goff and company are in trouble. As I said in last week’s divisional round preview, Goff gets flustered when the Rams need to abandon the run and trust his arm. Last week the Rams ran the ball 48 times compared to 28 pass plays. In week 9 Goff threw for 391 yards with three touchdowns and an interception, but the Rams failed to eclipse 100 rushing yards. If the same happens on Sunday, I’ll be intrigued to see how Goff responds.

Focusing on the Saints offense against the Rams defense, if the Rams let up 45 points again, they’ll be watching the Super Bowl on the couch. In that November 4 meeting, Brees posted 346 passing yards with four touchdowns, while the Saints combined for 141 yards on the ground. Michael Thomas caught 12 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown, eerily similar to his line against the Eagles on Sunday – 12 receptions, 171 yards, and a touchdown. Thomas vs. Marcus Peters is a matchup that everyone will have their eye on following some interesting comments from Peters in response to Sean Payton. A piece of the Rams defense that they did not have in week 9 is cornerback Aqib Talib, who will bring some physicality that wasn’t there in November.

In the end, I think the Saints find a way to advance to their second Super Bowl of Brees’s career. I have confidence that the Saints defense will take away the run and put the game on the shoulders of Goff. I think Wade Phillips and the Rams defense correct a lot of the mistakes that they made in their prior meeting with New Orleans, leading to a lower-scoring game. I think the Saints score a go-ahead touchdown with two of three minutes remaining in the game and Goff comes just short of bringing the Rams back.

Score: Saints 34 Rams 29

NolanThe Rams pose a big threat to the Saints this weekend but I am going to stand by New Orleans as my pick to win it all. I was very nervous at the end of the Eagles and Saints game last week simply because I didn’t think the game would be close late in the fourth quarter. The good news is the Saints showed they were able to not only come back from a 14-point deficit, but also come away with a turnover with the game on the line. Much like the other three teams playing this weekend, the Saints rolled past a majority of their opponents because of their high scoring offense. I am even more confident in them after watching last week’s game because it showed me that New Orleans can handle themselves when things don’t go their way.

If Los Angeles is going to go into the superdome and win on Sunday they will have to continue to run the ball extremely well. Todd Gurley was able to play last week against Dallas but did not have to do it all as C.J Anderson continued to be a reliable option in the Rams backfield. Taking the pressure off of their young quarterback Jared Goff will be essential, especially in a very wild road environment. To his credit, Goff had a great game when the Rams visited New Orleans earlier this year. However, the Saints were up by 21 at one point in the second half and won.

Score: Saints 31 Rams 30

IanThe Rams come into this game fresh off the heels of a dominant 30-22 win over the Dallas Cowboys last week. I have often doubted the Rams’ toughness throughout their renaissance over the last few years. They are a flashy team in a flashy town and in the playoffs. Those types of teams will usually falter against a tougher, hard-nosed team.

The Rams shut that notion down last week as they out Dallas’ed Dallas. The Rams rushed for 273 yards in the contest and held Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys rushing attack to 50 yards. The Rams had two 100-yard rushers in journeymen CJ Anderson and Todd Gurley. I’d look for the Rams to try to lean on this type of ball-control, run-oriented offense this Sunday in New Orleans.

They need to commit to bracketing Michael Thomas defensively and will need their run defense to continue their run of strong play against Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. If they are able to do these things, I think they could emerge victorious.

They are taking on a Saints team that cruised throughout much of the regular season and has arguably the best homefield advantage in the NFL. They played the closest game of last week both in final score and to the eye test as they won a 20-14 decision against the Eagles.

The Saints struggled early, allowing Philly to jump out to a 14-0 lead before getting their way back into the game in the second quarter and going in front for good late in the third quarter on a Thomas touchdown catch. Thomas is a beast and the Saints will need to him to come up with another big game if they want to make it to the Super Bowl. If he duplicates the 120-catch 171-yard performance, it will be a sad day in New Orleans for the Rams.

The Saints defense held the Eagles to 99 yards after the first two drives of the game and that unit has been playing as good as any defense in football heading into this one. I think Sean Belichi…. McVay will have some new wrinkles in his offense this week. Couple that with a great game plan from Rams Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips and the Rams will punch their tickets to Atlanta. 

Score: Rams 31 Saints 27


 

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Image Credit: Musket Fire

AFC: #2 New England Patriots @ #1 Kansas City Chiefs – 6:40 pm – CBS

Jake: What can be stated about the Patriots that you don’t already know? They’ve made the AFC Championship game eight years in a row now, and are fighting to reach the Super Bowl for the fourth time in the last five years. If you’re a fan of any team other than the Patriots, you’re most likely rooting against them for several reasons, one of them simply being that watching the Patriots in the Super Bowl has gotten old. That’s certainly why I hope they don’t win.

On Saturday the Chiefs’ 31-13 win over the Colts gave Kansas City their first home playoff victory in 28 years. This is the fifth year in Andy Reid‘s six-year tenure that the Chiefs have reached the postseason, and the second time Kansas City was awarded a bye. In the 2016 season the Chiefs clinched the #2 seed, but lost to the Steelers in the divisional round. Last year told a similar tale as the 9-7 Tennessee Titans marched into Arrowhead Stadium and pulled off a 22-21 upset.

The difference for the Chiefs this year is that they now have Patrick Mahomes playing quarterback at an MVP-caliber level. In his first full season as Kansas City’s starting quarterback, In the regular season Mahomes threw for over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns. Four of those touchdowns came at the expense of the Patriots in October, with Tyreek Hill finishing the game with 142 yards and three touchdowns on seven receptions.

Tom Brady and the Patriots were disrespected last week before they gave the Chargers a 41-28 spanking. For the last few years the Patriots have looked old and slow at times in the regular season, but they always play their best football in the playoffs. What should scare Patriots fans is that while New England went 9-0 at Gillette Stadium this season, the Pats are 3-5 on the road and have lost their last three AFC Championship games played outside of Foxborough. Luckily for them, the quarterback that handed the Patriots all three of those losses – Peyton Manning – is retired.

Before I break down the matchups, I think it’s worth noting that Sunday’s forecast for Kansas City calls for a high of 25 degrees and a low of 20 degrees, but it will feel colder with the wind chill and the sun already setting before kickoff.

This game will likely turn into a similar shootout that we saw in October. It’s no mistake that the Chiefs have heavily relied on their offense this season. Kansas City finished with the NFL’s 31st ranked defense, going 31st against the pass and 27th versus the run. The Patriots will be just fine on offense. Anticipate Brady and Julian Edelman‘s connection to be strong just like last week, where Edelman caught nine passes for 151 yards. Although these two make up one of the NFL’s oldest quarterback-receiver duos, they’ve played on big stages like this for years. Combine that along with New England’s fifth-ranked run offense that ended with 155 yards during last Sunday’s win over the Chargers, and the Patriots will likely be scoring often. Honestly, the hardest challenge for the Patriots offense on Sunday will be the extremely loud crowd at Arrowhead.

Mahomes and company will also spend a lot of time scoring touchdowns on Sunday against the Patriots 21st-overall defense. Having Sammy Watkins back in-the-fold last week against the Colts proved big dividends. Watkins only caught six passes for 62 yards, but his presence alone took the Colts’ attention away from guys like Hill, Travis Kelce, and Damien Williams. This season the Chiefs are 9-2 with Watkins in the lineup and 3-2 without him. Kansas City faced some tough opponents without Watkins like the Rams, and his absence led to the Chiefs offense struggling at times late in the regular season. If Watkins takes the attention away from Hill and Kelce, the Chiefs can pick apart the Patriots defense. Don’t forget that Williams dashed for 129 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries against the Chargers. If he can replicate that performance again on the frigid Arrowhead grass, look out.

This is a tough call, but the reason why I’m picking the Chiefs is because their weapons on offense are a lot better than what the Patriots have. The Chiefs are the #1 seed in the AFC for a reason. I picked against the Patriots last week and ate my words, and if the Patriots escape Kansas City with a win I would not be shocked at all. The Patriots have lost their last three AFC Championships on the road to Manning-led teams. I think that trend continues on Sunday. The Eagles dethroned the Patriots in Super Bowl 52 last season, and I think the Philly magic rubs off on Reid, a former Eagles head coach, this weekend.

Score: Chiefs 27 Patriots 24

Nolan: Just when you thought the Patriots couldn’t get any more unbearable, they come out this week and try to push themselves as an underdog team. Just because the Chiefs are a three-point favorite at home on Sunday doesn’t mean you can call yourself an underdog. Especially not the team that is playing in their eighth straight AFC championship game. In reality, it doesn’t matter what I or anyone else has to say because the Patriots are only doing this to appeal to their fan base and build some extra motivation.

As far as the game goes, I am going to pick the so-called underdogs. I still don’t have confidence that the Chiefs defense can stop Tom Brady or that strong Patriots run game with the game on the line. Patrick Mahomes will likely find a way to put up a good amount of points, even if the weather is foul, but I don’t think the Chiefs defense will stop the Patriots from storming back if it turns into a shootout like their meeting earlier this year. Kansas City will enjoy the benefits of playing at home but in the end the experience of Bill Belichick and Brady makes them more favorable than Andy Reid and Mahomes in my eyes.

Score: Patriots 38 Chiefs 35

Ian: Here we are getting ready for the AFC Championship and the Patriots are here again. Lady Brady and Lord Belichick guided their Patriots machine to their eighth  consecutive AFC Championship appearance courtesy of a  41-28 shellacking of the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Patriots dominated against LA, scoring touchdowns on their first four drives of the game and staking themselves to what amounted to a 35-7 lead at halftime. Brady was lights out per usual, finishing 34-for-44 for 343 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots have found a running game to in rookie running back Sony Michel, who picked up 129 yards and three touchdowns. Brady wasn’t sacked and that will be the key to New England’s success at Arrowhead this Sunday.

New England’s defense shut down the Chargers offense last weekend. The Patriots defense held  them to punts on five of their first six drives before allowing a few fourth quarter touchdowns late to make the score line look better. It could be a long day for this group as Patrick Mahomes and company have scored an average of 32 points-per-game at home this season.

Mahomes and the Chiefs throttled the Indianpolis Colts 31-13 this past Saturday to advance to the AFC title game. Mahomes didn’t pass for any touchdowns for the first time this season but he finished 27-for-41 for 278 yards and a rushing touchdown. In the passing game Travis Kelce had 108 yards receiving and Tyreek Hill chipped in eight catches for 72 yards. Sammy Watkins returned to the lineup and added six catches for 62 yards.

Mahomes’s  touchdown run was one of four rushing touchdowns for Kansas City on the day with Hill, Darrel Williams, and Damien Williams also adding scores on the ground. The Chiefs passing attack is normally where their bread is buttered, but their ability to establish a running game last week leads to another dimension for Belichick to gameplan for this Sunday.

The much-maligned Chiefs defense does one thing well: get to the quarterback. They finished tied for first in sacks with 52 on the season. Chris Jones finished third in the NFL with 15.5 sacks and fellow sack artist Dee Ford finished tied for eighth with 13. Ford picked up one of three sacks last week against the Colts with veteran Justin Houston picking up the other two. J. Houston finished with nine sacks in the regular season.

Brady doesn’t move well, the Chiefs consistently get to the quarterback. I am not one to pick against Brady and Belichick often especially in the playoffs, but I think the pass rush will be too much for the Pats.

Score: Chiefs 30 Patriots 22

Featured Image Credit: Vegas Sports Zone

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NFL Wild Card Weekend Breakdown

It’s the most exciting time of the year for football fans and the Charm City Bird Watch crew is back again for another year of playoff predictions. As each round of the playoffs progresses our staff will be breaking down every matchup and giving you a prediction as to who we think will win.

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Image Credit: 12UP

Indianapolis Colts (10-6) @ Houston Texans (11-5) – Sat 4:35 pm – ABC / ESPN

Nolan: This will be the first of hopefully many great playoff games in 2018. After watching the Bills and Titans stink it up in the AFC bracket last year, I think we are all ready for a better slate of games. The Colts and Texans will square off for the third time this season. Both of their previous meetings was decided by three points and I’m expecting another close game for round three. Both teams also put together impressive win streaks this season, proving they are both capable of a postseason run. I’m picking the Texans at home because of their defense. We all know about their leader J.J. Watt but the defense as a whole doesn’t get much national attention despite being right up there with the Ravens and Bears. They are top three in stopping the run and one of five teams holding their opponents to under 20 points-per-game.

Score: Texans 26 Colts 21

Ian: This will be Deshaun Watson’s first career NFL playoff game but he has performed well on the biggest stage of college football multiple times and I expect him to remain poised in this one and lead his team to victory. The Colts haven’t been to the playoffs since 2014 but Andrew Luck has returned and is playing at an MVP level. The Texans have the home field advantage here and the two teams have played two games this season each decided by three points. I think the Texans have a few more playmakers overall than the Colts and ultimately that will be enough to send Houston through to the next round.

Score: Texans 27 Colts 23

Jay: This is a Houston team who many had written off early after starting the season 0-3. They would end up going on a brilliant winning streak that helped them win the AFC South title. On the other hand, the Colts started the season 1-5 before turning things around to squeak into the playoffs with a late season win against another division foe, the Tennessee Titans. Both teams have talented quarterbacks, but the play of Andrew Luck has been absolutely lights out. Deshaun Watson comes into this game battered and bruised after being sacked a league high 62 times this season. The Colts have accounted for 12 of those between their two previous meetings this year. The lack of protection for Watson will be the difference in this game. I see pressure forcing Watson to make some ill-timed mistakes.

Score: Colts 24 Texans 20

JakeThink the Ravens will have their hands full putting a gameplan together to face the same team twice in three weeks? Think about how the Colts and Texans feel, facing each other for the third time this season as AFC South foes. With that said, I think this game is relatively low-scoring. The Texans can run the ball with Lamar Miller, but DeShaun Watson lacks the repertoire of weapons that he had before Demaryius Thomas went down with a torn Achilles. Couple that with Watson being sacked more than anyone in the NFL this season (62 times), and Houston has a problem. The Colts offensive line went from being one of the worst in the NFL to being one of the best, ranking third in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. However, one-third of the 18 sacks given up by the Colts this season came at the hands of the Texans. All of these factors will likely lead to a low-scoring affair, but I think Andrew Luck finds a way in the end and wins his second game in Houston in five weeks. 


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Image Credit: The Landry Hat

Seattle Seahawks (10-6) @ Dallas Cowboys (10-6) – Sat 8:15 pm – FOX

Nolan: As a Ravens fan I should probably appreciate what the Seahawks are doing right now but I’m not super confident in them as a road team. They have some nice wins under their belt this season, including a 24-13 win over Dallas in week three. However, all of those impressive wins came at home. The Seahawks have had a handful of chances to pick up good road wins but they will finish the season with a 4-4 record away from CenturyLink Field. Their best performance on the road was a 30-27 win over Carolina but they also lost to inferior teams in San Francisco and Denver. The Cowboys have been prone to early playoff exits under Jason Garrett but I see them rising to the occasion this week at home.

Score: Cowboys 28 Seahawks 19

Ian: Pete Carroll vs Jason Garrett / Russell Wilson vs Dak Prescott.

These two matchups alone are enough for me to lean toward Seattle in this one. Seattle has a decided advantage in both of these matchups. It is impossible for me to trust Dallas in the playoffs especially against two guys that have had the playoff success that Carroll and Wilson have had in Seattle. A revamped running game that ranked first in the NFL in rushing yards per game and a healthier Doug Baldwin will be the difference in what will be the next Cowboys playoff flop.

Score: Seahawks 23 Cowboys 19

Jay: Rumors are Jerry Jones has said he wants playoff success from Jason Garrett before he makes a decision on whether or not he will retain his head coaching title. Rightfully so as America’s teams has only mustered two playoff wins since 1996. Maybe these Cowboys are different. This Cowboys team runs the football extremely well with Ezekiel Elliott. They also boast one of the best defenses in the league led by rookie sensation Leighton Vander Esch. But they are matching up against a perennial playoff challenger in the Seattle Seahawks. Russell Wilson can beat you in every way as his arm and leg combination makes him the prototype dual threat quarterback. The Seahawks have a similar mentality of the Cowboys they want to run the football and play good defense. Except this Seahawks offense is scary running the football. They have a league-high 2,560 yards on the ground this year with a staggering 160 yards-per-game. The Seahawks also protect the ball very well with the league’s best turnover differential (+15). I believe that will be the difference in Saturday’s game. A late game mistake by the young Dallas offensive cast sets up Wilson and company to win the game.

Score: Seahawks 20 Cowboys 17

Jake: I know the Seahawks went 4-4 on the road this season, but my pick comes down to not being able to trust the Cowboys. Since the new millennium, the Cowboys have played to a 2-6 record in the postseason. Two years ago the Cowboys won the NFC East and owned the top overall seed in the playoffs only to lose to the Packers at home in the divisional round. There’s some franchises that choke in crunch time, and the Cowboys are certainly one of them. I have much more faith in Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, who have made the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons with at least one win in each trip. Pete Carroll is a playoff wizard and I think Wilson & Carroll lead Seattle to another playoff win over Jason Garrett and the Cowboys. 

Score: Seahawks 27 Cowboys 21


Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) @ Baltimore Ravens (10-6) – Sun 1:05 pm – CBS

Nolan: Playing the same team twice in the span of three weeks is less than ideal but that is the scenario this week for the Ravens and Chargers. The odds were stacked against Baltimore as a road team a few weeks ago but this time they will get to host the Chargers at M&T Bank Stadium. The tape is out on Lamar Jackson and Los Angeles will be the first team to face him twice. When you combine that with the fact that the Chargers are 7-1 on the road this year, there is a lot of reason to be concerned as a Ravens fan. However, I trust Baltimore to get the job done at home. The pass rush flustered Philip Rivers last time and helped generate turnovers. If Jackson and the offense can actually capitalize off of them by finishing some drives, the Ravens will win this game.

Score: Ravens 24 Chargers 23

Ian: Here are three things Ian is looking for this Sunday when the Ravens host the Chargers.

Jay: The Lamar Jackson effect is contagious in Baltimore. After taking over for the former super bowl MVP Joe Flacco, Jackson and company have done nothing but win. The revitalized offense has been churning on the ground by averaging 229.5 yards-per-game through the last seven games. This team was 4-5 at the bye with an injured starting quarterback. Most thought this season was lost (myself included). With the No. 1 defense smothering opponents and the electrifying play of Jackson, this team has won six of seven and brought home the AFC North title at 10-6. The Chargers have quietly been one of the best teams in football this season. After moving from San Diego to Los Angeles, the Chargers have essentially played 16 away games but still find themselves in the postseason with a 12-4 record. Phillip Rivers has been the driving factor for the Chargers success this season. In the first matchup between the Chargers and Ravens, Rivers played terrible and was running for his life most of the evening. Rivers has all the weapons around him to be successful, but none of the matters if the offensive line can’t slow down this tenacious Ravens pass rush. If the Chargers figure out how to slow down the pass rush it could turn into a long day for the Ravens but I would look for Don Martindale to have some crafty schemes drawn up to stay in Rivers face all day.

Score: Ravens 28 Chargers 24

Jake: Lamar Jackson will make his first start in an NFL playoff game against Philip Rivers, who owns a 4-5 postseason record with a Chargers team making their first postseason appearance since 2013. The question on everyone’s mind is how will both teams change their gameplan just two weeks after facing each other in Carson, California? It’s going to be hard for the Ravens defense to limit Rivers and the Chargers’ offense to 181 total yards like they did in that week 16 affair. When I couple that along with the Ravens recent redzone and second half struggles on offense, I’m finding it hard to pick the Ravens in. I picked the Chargers two weeks ago and I was wrong, so hopefully history repeats itself. I’m guessing that the Chargers look tired from playing at 1:00 after travelling from the west coast, but I think arguably the best roster in the AFC finds their way on Sunday. 

Score: Chargers 21 Ravens 20 

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Image Credit: 12Up

Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) @ Chicago Bears (12-4) – Sun 4:40 pm – NBC

Nolan: Last year I picked against the Eagles in every playoff game all the way through the Super Bowl and was wrong every time. I should have probably learned my lesson by now, especially with Nick Foles back under center, but that’s not the case. The Bears will present a big challenge for the Eagles with their stout defense. Philly has played in 12 games this season decided by seven points or less and they came out on top in six of them. If the game comes down to one key possession in the fourth quarter, they have a good shot but I am expecting the Bears to be up by more than one possession late in the game.

Score: Bears 28 Eagles 17

Ian: The Bears are led by first year head coach Matt Nagy and second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The defending champs counter with Doug Pedersen and super bowl MVP Nick Foles, who is looking to take the Eagles on another magical run. The Bears boast one of the league’s top defenses and they figure to make life difficult for Foles and company this Sunday night in Chicago but the Eagles have all of the experience needed to emerge victorious here. The Eagles stop the run effectively and Trubisky isn’t good enough to carry the offense in Chi-Town. Couple that with the Eagles offense finding their way the last few weeks, and this one has the makings for a long day for the Bears. Give me the Eagles here.

Score: Eagles 26 Bears 14

Jay: Philadelphia’s lord and savior Nick Foles will roll into the windy city this Sunday to match up against the monsters of the midway, led by Khalil Mack. The reigning super bowl champions have not had the season they had hoped for as they lost their starting quarterback Carson Wentz once again. However, the Philadelphia natives had no fear as Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles came off the bench to secure three must-win games and send the Eagles back to the postseason. Can Foles and the Eagles repeat what they did last year? Can a backup quarterback lead them to the Super Bowl again? On the other hand, the Chicago Bears have been an absolute terror for opposing offenses. They have the league’s top scoring defense, allowing just under 18 points a game. Khalil Mack leads a tenacious pass rush which has wreaked havoc across the league this season. If Mitchell Trubisky can find the steady consistency that he has found for much of the season, the Bears should win this game handily. The front seven of the Bears are the X-factor in this game. Can they contain Zach Ertz and Darren Sproles catching the ball out of the backfield? Foles is nursing some injured ribs which I’m sure will be very tender. Mack and company should have a field day.

Score: Bears 23 Eagles 16

Jake: Just like Nolan, I picked against the Eagles all throughout the playoffs last year, with the exception being the Super Bowl. I learned my lesson and I’m rolling with the Eagles this time. I can’t explain it, but there’s something about Nick Foles in big games that I can’t go against. I certainly understand why the Bears are the favorites at home, especially since the Eagles have a hard time running the football and defending the pass. Not to mention that the Bears defense is flat-out scary and can completely take over a game. While Matt Nagy could very well be named the NFL Coach of the Year soon, I have more faith in the defending Super Bowl champions to pull off the upset on the road simply because they’ve been here before. Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears have a bright future ahead of them, but I think Trubisky makes one or two late-game mistakes that end up being all the Eagles need to move on to the divisional round. 

Score: Eagles 24, Bears 20








Podcast Episode 26: Who’s ready to walk with Mike Elias (and run with Lamar Jackson)?

Image Credit: Camden Chat

Welcome to Episode 26 of the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast with site owner Jake McDonnell, editor Nolan McGraw, and author Ian Schultz.

After Jake tells a rather unfortunate story to kick off the show, the guys recap Lamar Jackson‘s first NFL start, a 24-21 win over the Cincinnati Bengals (8:38). They’ll also take a look at what was said during John Harbaugh’s Monday press conference (23:21) where the Ravens’ head coach lashed out at reporters over questions about Jackson and Marshal Yanda allegedly spitting on Vontaze Burfict, as reported by ProFootballTalk.

As we always do during our Ravens discussions, we share our lists for Who’s Trending (28:58) and some things to watch for during Sunday’s 1:00 matchup with the 2-8 Oakland Raiders (41:23).

For this week’s Orioles segment, Jake, Nolan, and Ian revisit the Mike Elias hire and break down the top takeaways from yesterday’s introductory press conference with Elias and the Angelos boys (48:30). Is this the right move by the Orioles, and should fans buy into what the Angelos boys and Elias covered during Monday’s news conference?

Up next, Ian tags out and we check in with our Maryland Football expert Jay Stavros (1:02:47). On Saturday the Terps fell to Ohio State in overtime 52-51, but they led for most of regulation and gave the Buckeyes all they could handle. Can the Terps put together a similar performance on Saturday in Penn State and clinch bowl eligibility with a win? Is Matt Canada definitely on his way out? Stavros runs through it all.

To wrap up the show, we dive into our weekly numbers segment, taking a look at the best Baltimore sports athletes to wear the number 26 (1:09:50).

You can find the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on SoundCloudiTunes, and Google Play. Please leave us a review on iTunes, we love to hear your feedback and may read it on a future episode. Thank you for listening!

The Charm City Bird Watch Podcast is brought to you by Seven Sports Bar & Grille. For a limited time only on behalf on Charm City Bird Watch, you can receive a 10% discount off any entree dish when you tell your server or bartender the promo code Charm City.’