The NFL Wild Card round has come and gone, much to my disappointment. My favorite team is the Minnesota Vikings, who were heartbreakingly defeated in the last minutes of the game by the visiting Seattle Seahawks (10-9). My AFC choice team, the Cincinnati Bengals, were also beaten in the last seconds of the game by the Pittsburg Steelers (18-16). Other victories included a shutout win for the Kansas City Chiefs against the Houston Texans (30-0) and the Green Bay Packers clinching a victory against the Washington Redskins (35-18).
This weekend is the Divisional round of the NFL Playoffs, with the remaining teams battling to get to Super Bowl 50 and win the shiny gold Vince Lombardi trophy. This weekend we have the following match-ups:
Kansas City Chiefs (12-5) at New England Patriots (12-4)at 3:35pm* on CBS (1/16)
Green Bay Packers (11-6) at Arizona Cardinals (13-3) at 7:15pm* on NBC (1/16)
Seattle Seahawks (11-6) at Carolina Panthers (15-1) at 12:05pm* on FOX (1/17)
Pittsburg Steelers (11-6) at Denver Broncos (12-4) at 3:40pm* on CBS (1/17)
*All times Central.
Taking a look at the games, it seems like a bunch of good matches. The Chiefs have a strong defense with a semi-strong offense. The Patriots strengths come from their offense, mainly all-star quarterback Tom Brady. Brady can make a receiver out of just about anyone; his favorite being Julian Edelman. The Patriots’ pass dominant offense should be a force to reckon with for Kansas City. However, on the flip side of the coin, the Chiefs have one of the best pass rush defenses in the NFL, not to mention Knile Davis being a beast running back. My prediction for this game is a very slim Chiefs victory, 21-14.
The Green Bay Packers are another strong defense, they have four strong players who are the go-too gladiators for the team: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Wide Receiver Jordy Nelson carry the pass game, Eddie “The Locomotive” Lacey leading the rush game, and rounding us out as the head of the Green Bay defense, Clay Matthews. The Packers are a well rounded team that would normally give any team a run for its money. Except their opponents are the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are one of the best teams in the league this year, holding the second seed in the National Football Conference (NFC). The Arizona Cardinals last played the Green Bay Packers in week 16 of the regular season, where the Cardinals absolutely annihilated the Green Bay Packers, the final score being 38-8. The Cardinals have a solid offense with quarterback Carson Palmer and veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, as well as Michael Floyd at WR and Andre Ellington as running back. The Cardinals also have one of the most difficult pass rush defenses to beat. The last time the Packers and Cardinals played, the Packers were quickly disassembled as a team, with Aaron Rodgers completing just 15 passes of his 28 attempts, gaining just 151 yards, and throwing one interception. Compare that to Carson Palmer’s 18/27 and a total of 265 yards and 2 touchdowns. Fitzgerald gained a touchdown and received 4 catches for 29 yards.
It will be a difficult game for Green Bay to win. My prediction for this one is an Arizona Cardinals victory, 35-14.
Now we come to a game that looks very clear cut on paper, but could very well be the best game of the round: the Seattle Seahawks at the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have the better offense, with Cam Newton at Quarterback and his wide array of receivers. The Seahawks have a strong offense with quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch. The absence of Lynch, and the Seahawks offense in general, almost cost the Seahawks their wild card game. If the team doesn’t come out stronger than they did last week, they do not stand a chance against Cam and the Panthers. My prediction is a Panthers victory, 28-21.
The last game of the round is another seemingly simple game, that I believe to be rather cut and dried, however there is no such thing in this game. The Pittsburg Steelers will travel to Colorado to face the Denver Broncos. The Steelers will be coming into this game with a large handicap, their best wide reciever Antonio Brown is injured and their star quarterback “Big Ben” Roethlisberger is questionable. The Broncos will be coming out strong with all-star QB Peytun Manning and his army. I’m predicting this one to be a W for the Broncos, 21-7.
The New England Patriots defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 27-20, advancing them to the AFC Championship game.
The Green Bay Packers fell in overtime to the Arizona Cardinals, 26-20. The Cardinals will advance to the NFC Championship.
The Carolina Panthers overtook the Seattle Seahawks, 31-24, and will advance to play the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game.
The Denver Broncos beat the Pittsburg Steelers, 23-16, and will advance to Boston to play the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.