NFL Playoffs 2019: Dates, Matchups and Bracket Breakdown for Weekend

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2019

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) passes in the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in New Orleans, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

It's been a wild week in the NFL. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets, Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns all hired new head coaches. Meanwhile, the trade market for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has begun to develop.

With everything going on, you'd be almost be forgiven for forgetting that the NFL playoffs are entering their second week.

While the 2019 NFL offseason is here for many teams already, there are eight still living in the 2018 season. They still have a chance at appearing in Super Bowl LIII and hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at the end of it all.

That field will be narrowed to four by the end of the weekend. We're here to examine the upcoming slate of games that will determine the final four. We'll run down the full divisional-round schedule and the latest odds and over/unders from OddsShark. We'll also take a look at some of the latest playoff-related storylines heading into the weekend.

    

2019 NFL Divisional Round

Saturday, January 12

Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs

When: 4:35 p.m. ET

TV and Live Stream: NBC, NBC Sports App and fuboTV

Odds and Over/Under: KC -5.5, 57

              

Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams

When: 8:15 p.m. ET

TV and Live Stream: Fox, Fox Sports Go and fuboTV

Odds and Over/Under: LAR -7, 49.5

                  

Sunday, January 13

Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots

When: 1:05 p.m. ET

TV and Live Stream: CBS, CBS All Access and fuboTV

Odds and Over/Under: NE -4, 47.5

                

Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints

When: 4:40 p.m. ET

TV and Live Stream: Fox, Fox Sports Go and fuboTV

Odds and Over/Under: NO -8, 51

Where to Watch: NFL playoff games, studio shows and more are available through fuboTV

      

Chargers Looking for a Kicking Edge

The 2018 season may go down as the one in which kickers lost their luster. The Browns and Steelers very well may have missed out on the playoffs because of missed kicks, while the Chicago Bears failed to advance past Wild Card Weekend, in part, because of one.

However, this isn't the reasons the Los Angeles Chargers went out and signed kicker Nick Rose this week. They have a reliable kicker in Michael Badgley, who mad five of his six attempts in last week's win over Chicago. No, the Chargers inked Rose in order to handle kickoff duties.

This is a move that may seem odd on the surface, but it's one that makes a ton of sense. The New England Patriots have an electrifying returner in Cordarrelle Patterson, who averaged 28.8 yards per kick return and scored once in the regular season.

While Badgley has been more than serviceable when kicking extra points and field goals, he hasn't regularly boomed kickoffs out of the end zone. Only nine of his 54 regular-season kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. By adding Rose, the Chargers believe they'll avoid giving the Patriots an added edge.

    

Brady-Rivers Duel Likely to be a Gem

we're still in the midst of the Patriots dynasty, and while the five Super Bowl Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will define it, they aren't the only reason we've enjoyed the run. We're likely to look back on New England's run as a part of a great quarterback era. The quarterback duels between Brady and Peyton Manning, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger have been historic.

This weekend, we're going to get another fantastic matchup between Brady and Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

While Rivers hasn't received the acclaim (or the Super Bowl titles) of 2004 draft-mates Roethlisberger and Manning, he is an equally talented signal-caller. He just finished a season in which he passed for 4,308 yards with 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Even Brady knows that he's going to present a challenge for New England.

"He's kind of like me," Brady said, per the Chargers' official website. "He wants the ball out of his hands. He kind of wants to be able to anticipate coverages. He's got really a great group of skill players—backs, tight ends, receivers. They're playing as well as any offense that's played all season."

The Chargers offense, which averaged 26.8 points per game in the regular season, is indeed one of the better ones the Patriots have faced this year, and it's likely to make for some exciting back-and-forth with New England.

    

Saints Looking to Home-Field Advantage

While the Patriots were fortunate to earn a first-round bye—they were a disappointing 3-5 on the road—the New Orleans Saints rolled for most of the season. The only lost two meaningful games in the regular season as they had the NFC's No. 1 seed secured before Week 17.

This means the Saints have known they'll have home-field advantage until Super Bowl LIII—should they make it that far, of course—for some time now. This gives New Orleans a notable edge, as the Mercedes-Benz Superdome crowd can be a tough challenge for visitors.

"It's wild. It's energetic. It's beautiful," Saints tackle Terron Armstead said, per Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com. "From my point of view, I love it. I love to look back at the crowd from behind the benches and see people screaming and going crazy, jumping. I love it, man."

The Saints only lost one game at home in 2018, and that came in the season opener. They also haven't lost a postseason game at home since the arrival of quarterback Drew Brees and head coach Sean Payton.

New Orleans players have every right to feel confident about their chances heading into the weekend.

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