When a ligament tore inside Carson Wentz’s left knee on Dec. 10, it created something the NFL hasn’t seen in nearly 50 years. Without their MVP candidate at quarterback, the Eagles became the league’s first home underdog in the divisional round since 1970. But Philadelphia fans aren’t the only ones who should worry. Every road team has reason to believe it can win.
No. 6 Falcons at No. 1 Eagles
4:35 p.m. Saturday, NBC
Reason for fear: After leading Philadelphia to a win over the Rams when Wentz went down, then throwing four touchdowns in his first start this year, Nick Foles went downhill in a hurry. He completed 47 percent of his passes with one TD pass in his past two starts. So, despite possessing a defense that ranked first against the run (79.2 yards per game) and fourth in points allowed (18.4), Vegas has the Eagles as 3-point underdogs to the Falcons.
Eagles’ chances: 67 percent, according to Washington Post Fancy Stats.
No. 5 Titans at No. 1 Patriots
8:15 p.m. Saturday, CBS
Reason for fear: Coach Bill Belichick despises distractions. Now he’s at the center of one. A bombshell ESPN report claimed the coach could be making his last run with the team because of turmoil stemming from Tom Brady’s increasing influence on the organization. The Patriots will probably circle the wagons successfully — they’re favored by 13. But Tennessee has a shot if Dick LeBeau finds ways for Jurrell Casey and Brian Orakpo to pressure Brady.
Patriots’ chances: 82 percent, according to Washington Post Fancy Stats.
No. 3 Jaguars at No. 2 Steelers
1:05 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Reason for fear: Ben Roethlisberger said he doesn’t think this will be his final game at Heinz Field, but Jacksonville could be the team that makes him stop flirting with retirement and seriously consider it. After the Jaguars intercepted him five times in a 30-9 win this season in Pittsburgh, he said, “Maybe I don’t have it anymore.” The Steelers went 3-3 when “Big Ben” was sacked at least twice this season. The Jags averaged 3.4 sacks per game.
Steelers’ chances: 48 percent, according to Washington Post Fancy Stats.
No. 4 Saints at No. 2 Vikings
4:40 p.m. Sunday, Fox
Reason for fear: The Vikings finished the season on a 10-1 run behind Case Keenum, who completed 69 percent of his passes with 18 TDs and seven picks over that stretch. But he’s never been in a playoff game, and a first-round bye could detract from Minnesota’s mojo. The Vikings’ defense ranked first in yards (275.9) and points (15.8) allowed. Saints QB Drew Brees threw for 376 yards last week and can hand off to the best tailback tandem in the NFL.
Vikings’ chances: 66 percent, according to Washington Post Fancy Stats.