We reached a climactic ending to the regular season last weekend with a lot of surprising results such as Miami beating New England, The Jets falling to the Bills, The Vikings finally winning in Lambeau against the Packers and just the severity of Seattle’s win over Arizona. These results cemented the playoff teams and their seedings in both the AFC and the NFC. Wildcard weekend will take place this weekend on the 9th and 10th of January. It should throw up some interesting games and duels between great players, especially seeing as we have historic rivals playing one another and rematches of classic games.
Kansas City versus Houston Texans.
I believe that Kansas City will win this game. For a start, they are the hottest team, having ridden a 10 game winning streak to an 11-5 record, becoming the only the second team since 1970 to do so, whereas the Texans won the worst division in the NFL with a 9-7 record, playing with 4 different quarterbacks all season.
The Texans’ strength is in their defense which finished the regular season ranked 3rd overall. This is because they have the greatest defensive player of his generation in JJ Watt who has 74.5 sacks in only 5 seasons, and along with him Whitney Mercilus, who has had a career year with 12 sacks.
Kansas City, overall have the 6th best rushing attack in the league, spearheaded by a 2 headed rushing monster, with Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware combining for 10 TDs and 1036 yards. For the Chiefs to win, they have to keep running the ball at Houston and keep the ball out of Alex Smith’s hands so he can’t hand it over to the much improved Houston secondary.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals have the worst situation possible. Just a few weeks ago, they were in prime position for the 1 seed in the AFC, but Andy Dalton got injured, and they lost 2 of their last 4 games, falling to the 3 seed. With Andy Dalton not being ready for this game, they have to face Pittsburgh with AJ McCarron under center. Trying to keep pace with their offense is going to be a tough task for this 2nd year QB.
At the start of the season the Steelers lost Le’Veon Bell for the season with an ACL tear, so have had DeAngelo Williams step in who has produced 907 yards and 11 TDs. But last Sunday he left the game with an ankle injury so they won’t have him for this game, leaving the Bengals to sit back and let Big Ben throw at them all day, because they know that Pittsburgh don’t possess a legitimate running game.
I’m predicting a Steelers win because the most important position is the quarterback and Pittsburgh have the vastly superior player in Big Ben versus McCarron. Also the Bengals have lost in the 1st round of the playoffs every year between 2011-2014 so I’m expecting them to continue their unfortunate streak.
Seattle Seahawks vs Minnesota Vikings
If Kansas City are the hottest team in the NFL, then Seattle are a close second. They have won their last 7 games in a row, with Russell Wilson establishing stronger connections with Tyler Lockett and Cooper Helfet in those games. But it’s having Marshawn Lynch back from an abdominal injury which will encourage all Seattle fans this weekend.
Minnesota have Adrian Peterson who last weekend sealed his 3rd rushing title, so for the Vikings to stand a chance they need to keep Wilson and Co off the ball and ride Peterson for 20 carries or more to see how much he can do, then Bridgewater can try to take advantage downfield with play action passes.
I believe that overall both of these teams are quite equal especially as the Vikings will be getting back their defensive players such as Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith. However, due to Minnesota’s lack of a passing game I can’t see them posing much of a threat to the Legion of Boom who will stack the box against Adrian Peterson and ultimately win.
Green Bay Packers vs Washington Redskins
The Packers have struggled their way into the playoffs this season. It looked like at the start everything would be historic with Green Bay starting 6-0 but then went 4-6 in the last 10 games with Aaron Rodgers spending more time under pressure or being sacked than throwing touchdowns, but that doesn’t stop Green Bay being a sneaky Super Bowl contender.
For Washington, Kirk Cousins has been a revelation this season throwing for 4,166 yards, 29 TDs and only 11 INTs. Jordan Reed and Pierre Garcon have been playing absolutely out of their minds in the last weeks, proving that Washington does have the weapons to put away this average Green Bay secondary, especially at home in Washington.
I believe that Washington will win this game because Green Bay have too many flaws for even Aaron Rodgers to overcome,especially in their offensive line. The Redskins with home field advantage, a quarterback on red hot form and a defense that was stout throughout the season, will win this game quite close in Overtime.