NFL Playoff Schedule 2018: TV Coverage, Live-Stream Guide and Final Picks

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJanuary 14, 2018

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) carries in the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in New Orleans, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

The New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles each advanced in the divisional round on Saturday but in much different ways.

The Pats crushed the Tennessee Titans 35-14 thanks to 35 unanswered points (buffered by two Titans touchdowns) and eight sacks. Meanwhile, the Eagles won a nail-biter 15-10 over the Atlanta Falcons thanks to a last-minute stop on 4th-and-goal.

The AFC and NFC divisional-round winners on Sunday will then face off against New England and Philadelphia, respectively, on Sunday, January 21.

Until then, here's a look at the upcoming schedule, television coverage, live-stream guide, divisional-round picks and the best path to victory for Sunday's two road underdogs.


Divisional Round

Sunday, January 14, at 1:05 p.m. ET on CBS and CBS All Access: No. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 2 Pittsburgh Steelers

Sunday, January 14, at 4:40 p.m. ET on Fox and Fox Sports Go: No. 4 New Orleans Saints at No. 2 Minnesota Vikings


Conference Championships

Sunday, January 21, at 3 p.m. ET: AFC Championship on CBS and CBS All Access (Jacksonville Jaguars or Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots)

Sunday, January 21, at 6:30 p.m. ET: NFC Championship on Fox and Fox Sports Go (Minnesota Vikings or New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles)


Super Bowl LII

Sunday, February 4, at 6:30 p.m. ET: AFC champion vs. NFC champion on NBC and NBC Sports Live (game will be played in Minneapolis)


Divisional Round Picks

Steelers 20, Jaguars 10

Vikings 24, Saints 16


Jaguars' Path To Victory

Three main points stick out from the Jaguars' 30-9 win over the Steelers in Week 5. 

First, the Jags picked off quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times, including twice for touchdowns.

Second, running back Leonard Fournette rushed for 181 yards and two scores, including a 90-yard touchdown on his last carry.

Third, the Jags run defense held Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell to just 47 yards on 15 carries.

The Jags should expect to see much more of Bell this time around (he averaged 22 carries on the year), but the formula for a win is simple: run the ball, stop the run and force Roethlisberger into mistakes thanks to a stout pass rush and secondary.

If the Jags check off those three boxes, that will go a long way toward beating Pittsburgh and heading to the AFC Championship.

The problem is what happens if one of those boxes isn't checked. What if the Jags can't force turnovers? What will occur if Fournette is running into a brick wall on every play? What if Bell is running loose every play?

If any of those things happen, then we should be seeing more of the Jags' passing attack, which has been hit-and-miss all season. Quarterback Blake Bortles has largely improved in year four, as he completed over 60 percent of his passes and tossed 21 touchdowns. He's also shown his wheels at times, most notably in an 88-yard effort against Buffalo in the Wild Card Round.

But the Jags aren't built to win shootouts, and the pass game has struggled in the past two weeks (20 points and 221 passing yards total). If they are forced to go to the pass, it's an edge to the Steelers.

Will the Jaguars be able to execute, or will the Steelers force Jacksonville's hand?


Saints' Path to Victory

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara has looked invincible at times this year. When he runs, defenders sometimes pinball off him and fall to the ground as the rookie traverses through the field.

He's already become one of the best players in the league, and he's the Saints' top weapon. With all due respect to backfield mate Mark Ingram, who has had a fantastic year in his own right, New Orleans needs to feature Kamara prominently on Sunday and make him the clear featured back by giving him 20-plus touches.

Kamara's efficiency is through the roof: He rushed for an eye-popping 6.1 yards per carry this year, which led the NFL. He also posted over 10 yards per reception for the season.

One could argue that part of the reason why Kamara is so efficient is that he hasn't had to assume as many carries with Ingram splitting the work, therefore keeping him fresher during games.

That's a valid point, but on the flip side, Kamara hasn't dealt with a typical bell-cow back's workload, so he's fresher than others right now and could conceivably stay as efficient even with 20-plus touches on Sunday.

Ultimately, the Vikings present serious mismatch issues for the Saints offense. Notably, the secondary is one of the best in the game, and cornerback Xavier Rhodes could give star wideout Michael Thomas problems all day.

Therefore, the best bet might be to ride the hot hand and feed Kamara, who is a mismatch for any team, more carries and targets than usual.


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