Are you ready for some playoff football?! This weekend has four great matchups, with teams that could all be playing in the Super Bowl come February. Today (Saturday) features the two AFC games, followed by the NFC ones on Sunday. As a result, we will know who will be traveling to Denver and New England later on tonight as the AFC playoff picture will become clearer but before then, the wildcard games are still to be played!
Before I go in-depth for the AFC games, I wanted to get my picks out there for all four matchups:
Texans over Chiefs
Bengals over Steelers
Seahawks over Vikings
Packers over Redskins
1st AFC Wild-Card Game: Kansas City at Houston – 4:35 PM
The first game this weekend is Kansas City at Houston, and without a doubt should be the worst game played, but that doesn’t take away from the importance of the game. Both teams have great defenses with average offenses and both have been hot over the last two months.
The Chiefs come in with a 10-game winning streak and the Texans have won seven of their last nine games. The real deciding point between these two teams though are their offense stars. For the Chiefs, it’s all about Jeremy Maclin and same goes for DeAndre Hopkins of the Texans.
These star receivers are the driving forces for their offenses and whichever one of these players can come up with the bigger game should lead their team to victory. That is why I have the Texans winning, become Hopkins is not only one of the best receivers in the league but one of the most dynamic players as well. During any possession he could break off a huge touchdown and swing the game in Houston’s favor. Not to mention they also have a guy named J.J. Watt on defense, who’s pretty good I guess.
The Chiefs meanwhile have great talents in players such as Maclin, Justin Houston, Eric Berry and more, but they don’t have the generational talents that Houston has. And when it comes to playoff time, I take talent over all else. If the Texans can get moments of brilliance from their stars, they will be moving on to the Divisional round next week.
IN GAME UPDATE: So far the Texans have played quite poorly, with two first quarter turnovers via Brian Hoyer, but they are still in the game and I think they still have a chance to win.
POST GAME UPDATE: Well I was wrong. The game isn’t officially over yet, but with the Chiefs up by 27, the game is without a doubt over. The Texans just had an atrocious day offensively and couldn’t over come it. The Chiefs made the plays they needed too and as a result will be moving on next week.
Where Kansas City will be playing though is still unknown because we have another matchup tonight and it should be a good one, as division rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals square off.
2nd AFC Wild-Card Game: Pittsburgh at Cincinnati – 8:15 PM
Both teams have very different playoff histories, mainly the Steelers have won 6 Super Bowls and the Bengals have won none. In fact, the Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since 1990! In addition, the Steelers come into the playoffs with one of the best passing attacks ever and the Bengals are starting backup QB AJ McCarron. All of this seems to point to a Pittsburgh victory right?!
Wrong! I have the Bengals getting the victory at home and breaking their streak of six straight one and done losses under coach Marvin Lewis. Cincy has the superior defense to Pittsburgh’s with pass-rushers Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, who will be disrupting Ben Roethlisberger all night. Also, let’s not forget that the Bengals have a great offensive, that matches up with Pittsburgh in nearly every way.
It’s true that without Andy Dalton the offense isn’t as explosive as it could be, but with star receivers A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert, McCarron has some options to toss the ball around too. Plus, the Bengals have Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard on the ground to pound the rock.
While the Steelers have Antonio Brown, who is no doubt the greatest receiver in the NFL, one man can only do so much. The team has no rushing attack with Le’veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams injured, and as a result, even with the greatest passing attack in the league, you need to have balance to the offense and Pittsburgh doesn’t have it. Cincinnati wins, 28-24.
1st NFC Wild-Card Game: Seattle at Minnesota – 1PM
As the NFC playoffs kickoff today, I am all about the Seattle Seahawks, not only against the Vikings, but for the rest of the playoffs. Seattle is playing like the two-time straight Super Bowl participants they are and as a result, the Vikings have no chance.
Just a few weeks ago, in week 13, the Seahawks went into Minnesota and spanked the Vikings, 38-7. Russell Wilson has been the best player in the NFL over the last weeks of the season and as long as he plays like the star he is, the Vikings won’t have an answer to stop him.
As for Minnesota, the live and die by the legs of Adrian Peterson. The running back, who missed most of the 2014 season due to suspension, returned as the biggest rushing threat in the league and can win games on his own. However, against the Seahawks and their top-rated rush defense, I don’t see Peterson and the Vikings having any kind of success.
While it won’t be the huge blow out it was a month ago, I expect Seattle to win without too much trouble overall. The real issue for the Seahawks will be if they win today, will Marshawn Lynch be healthy enough to play next week against the Carolina Panthers? We will have to wait and see, but I expect the Hawks to get the W today. Seahawks win, 24-14.
2nd NFC Wild-Card Game: Green Bay at Washington – 4:40 PM
As the Seahawks and Vikings still battle subzero temperatures, it’s a completely different story in Landover, Maryland, where tonight’s game will be a normal temperature ranging between the 40 and 60 degrees! However, unlike the early game, the Packers and Redskins are going to light up the scoreboard in the only shootout of the weekend.
Both teams have stellar, big-play offenses that can score at will but each also have below-average defenses that can surrender points easily. As a result, whoever makes the big-play at the most crucial time will win this game and I believe that will be Green Bay.
True, the Packers looked bad down the stretch of the season and limped into the playoffs, but as I stated earlier, come playoff time, I trust experienced players who have played on this stage before over all else. That clearly favors Green Bay, who have been to the playoffs for seven straight years now, including a Super Bowl victory during the 2010 season.
As for the Redskins, this is only their second playoff trip in the past eight years and as a result, QB Kirk Cousins has never started in the playoffs. Cousins has been sensational this year, playing better than Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers actually, but it wouldn’t shock me at all if he the Washington QB makes a few mistakes today and costs his team the game.
After tonight, I expect Rodgers to be yelling, “you like that?!” instead of Cousins as the Packers move on to Arizona next week. Packers win, 31-28.