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NFL Playoff Bracket 2019: Updated Postseason Picture, Divisional-Round Scenarios

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2019

ARCHIVO - En esta foto del 17 de diciembre de 2018, Drew Brees, quarterback de los Saints de Nueva Orleans, busca enviar un pase en el duelo ante los Panthers de Carolina (AP Foto/Jason E. Miczek, archivo)
Jason E. Miczek/Associated Press

Waiting for the NFL divisional round to begin is tough to do after experiencing the emotional roller coaster of Wild Card Weekend.

Three of the four teams that advanced out of the Wild Card Round earned road victories, with the last contest of the four-game slate won in dramatic fashion by the Philadelphia Eagles. 

The Eagles and the New Orleans Saints are involved in the only regular-season matchup of the divisional round. 

The other three contests are intriguing meetings between teams that all have a legitimate case to walk away with the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the postseason. 

                     

Updated Postseason Bracket

NFL @NFL

8 teams remain! #NFLPlayoffs https://t.co/KiRo75Q45Y

Divisional-Round Scenarios

Only six of the eight remaining teams can host a game in the conference championship round. 

Since the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles are the No. 6 seeds in their respective conferences, they'll end up on the road for a third consecutive week if they win in Kansas City and New Orleans, respectively. 

The highest remaining seed in each conference hosts the conference championship, which means if the Chiefs and Saints come out on top, they'll play at home again next week. 

If the Chiefs slip up, the winner of the game between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Chargers hosts the AFC Championship.

If the Saints fall to the Eagles, the Los Angeles Rams or Dallas Cowboys get to play the NFC Championship at their home stadium.

                         

Patriots In Search Of 8th Straight Conference Championship Appearance

One of the most remarkable feats the Patriots have achieved during their run of success is the consistency in which they reach the AFC Championship. 

With a win over the Chargers in the divisional round, the Patriots will make their eighth consecutive appearance on conference championship weekend. 

During that stretch, Bill Belichick's team played all of its divisional-round games at Gillette Stadium, with the latest triumph coming against the Tennessee Titans a year ago.

The Chargers are the seventh different team to come into the home of the Patriots during the second weekend of the postseason since 2011. 

During the stretch mentioned above, the average margin of victory for the Patriots in this round is 16.7 points.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 30: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots makes a pass during the game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Only the Baltimore Ravens in 2014 and Kansas City Chiefs in 2015 lost by fewer than 10 points to the Patriots in the divisional round.

In order to knock off the Patriots, the Chargers need to play a near-perfect game in which they can't settle for field goals, like they did in Baltimore. 

Anthony Lynn's team needs to make the Tom Brady-led Patriots offense counter its every move, but that's going to be difficult since Philip Rivers is 1-5 in his career against New England. 

In those contests, Rivers has been sacked on 12 occasions and intercepted seven times by the Patriots defense. 

In eight career games against the Chargers, Brady is 6-2, and he's 12-2 in the divisional round with 4,037 passing yards and 29 touchdowns. 

If the Chargers pull off the upset, it would be viewed as one of the most shocking results in recent postseason history given New England's dominance in the divisional round. 

                             

Saints Vying For 3rd-Ever NFC Championship Appearance

Drew Brees is one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the NFL, but he's only reached the conference championship stage two times in his career with the Saints.

In 2007, the Saints lost to the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, but they rebounded in 2010 in their next NFC Championship to beat the Minnesota Vikings and land in the Super Bowl.

Since hoisting the Lombardi Trophy nine years ago, Brees and the Saints are 3-4 in the postseason, but they've won at least one game in each of their last three playoff appearances. 

That's a good sign for Sunday's clash with the Eagles, who steamroll into the Superdome with a massive amount of motivation to get back to the Super Bowl.

Before the Eagles started their impeccable run of form, the Saints dominated Doug Pederson's team in New Orleans in Week 11.

In the 48-7 victory, Brees threw for 363 yards and four touchdowns, while Mark Ingram recorded 103 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. 

Butch Dill/Associated Press

If the Saints are as balanced Sunday as they were at the end of November, the Eagles won't stand a chance. 

Of course, the Eagles defense has improved since the last time the two teams met in New Orleans, and the Saints are aware of that.

While Philadelphia's play has gotten better on defense, it still has weaknesses ready to be exploited—especially in the secondary, as an inexperienced group forced into the starting lineup by injuries faces one of the most skilled quarterbacks the game has ever seen. 

As long as Brees works into a rhythm in the pocket early and Ingram and Alvin Kamara can spread apart the Eagles defense on the ground, the road to the Super Bowl out of the NFC will go through New Orleans. 

                     

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

In addition to the broadcast networks, NFL playoff games can be viewed on FuboTV

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