Checkout our NFL Wildcard Round preview and predictions.
Kansas City Chiefs Vs. Houston Texans
In Week 6, the Chiefs’ season looked to be over when they had only one win to their name. But they’ve since won their last 11 games and comfortably secured an AFC wildcard. Defensively, these teams are evenly matched. They’re both in the top three of the league for stopping third down conversions and when they win, they generally win by stopping the opposition from scoring. But the difference lies in Chiefs’ quarterback Alex Smith and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. While Smith loves to carry the football, the addition of Maclin adds a strong passing option and has resulted in him scoring six touchdowns from his last six games. Meanwhile, the Texans have been struggling in the quarterback position having had four starters this season. In a high pressure playoff environment, this could prove the difference between winning and losing.
Chiefs to Win
Pittsburgh Steelers Vs. Cincinnati Bengals
The Steelers only snuck into an AFC wildcard spot thanks to the Bills knocking over the Jets (The Bills were rewarded with a truckload of sandwiches – literary). While the Steelers have at times looked promising at during the 2015 season there have been other times when they’ve looked very average. The promising elements have been in offence with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger along with wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back DeAngelo Williams having great seasons. But Williams may not be playing this week after sustaining a foot injury in Week 17. And the Bengals seem to have figured out how to stop Brown who managed only an average of 6.5 receives and 67 receiving yards this year against the Bengals, compared to his 2015 average of 10.6 receives and 126.2 receiving yards. There’s also the fact that the Bengals pass rating is 2nd in the league while the Steelers have conceded the 3rd most passing yards per game. There are a few people around who are picking an upset for this game, but I’m not one of them.
Bengals to Win
Seattle Seahawks Vs. Minnesota Vikings
While Seattle are going into this game as the lowest ranked team in the NFC, they have won six of their last seven games and last week they annulated the second placed Cardinals. This is in many ways thanks to quarterback Russell Wilson and the improved support he has been getting from his offensive line. Likewise, the rumoured return from injury of running back Marshawn Lynch will give the Seahawks an added option. Meanwhile, the Vikings have a weakness in the quarterback position with Teddy Bridgewater being well down the quarterback rankings and not having the ability to make big plays. But in saying that, the offensive strength for the Vikings this year has come from running back Adrian Peterson who was the league leader for rushing yards this season. If the Vikings are going to win then they’ll need a big game from Peterson. But Seattle are also top ranked team in stopping rushing yards per game, so if any team is able to limit Peterson’s influence, it’s the Seahawks.
Seahawks to Win
Green Bay Packers Vs. Washington Redskins
This is probably the hardest game of the round to pick. The Packers have had a helter-skelter year and have lost six of their last ten games. Likewise, when looking at the games that the Packers have actually won this year, we see that other than beating the Vikings in Week 11 they haven’t beaten any teams of note. However, the same could be said for the Redskins. While they’ve won their last four games, they didn’t come across any opposition who were serious playoff contenders. However, the Packers have Aaron Rodgers, who despite having a terrible offensive line still threw 347 completions at 60.7 percent. In many ways this is because Rodgers’ mobility means he is ready and able to move out of the pocket and complete passes from all over the field. But this offensive line is a real problem for Rodgers who has been sacked 46 times this year, which is the second most in the NFL. Alternatively, the Redskins have the most sacks in the league since Week 14. If the Redskins can negate the influence of Aaron Rodgers, then it will go a long way to ensuring victory.
Redskins to Win
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