Wildcard Round, none of the home teams won, the divisional round shouldn’t be any less surprising. Every year there is a surprise team, one that gets lucky to get in the playoffs and or wins their first game. This year I think that team is still around, and may surprise a few this weekend.
Chiefs @ Patriots
There is not a team as hot as the Chiefs, They walk into Foxboro after shutting out the Texans on the road and continuing their 11 game winning streak. There is no doubt the team from Kansas City has earned the right to be here, in this game, against the defending Super Bowl Champs.
The Patriots have not played in two weeks, and the last time they won dates back to week 15. Injuries and bad football have become a trend probably last 6 weeks. Julian Edelman is due to come back, and that is huge, because he allows Tom Brady to unload the ball within 2 seconds or at times less. Gronk is amazing, and his ability to make the big play is unmatched, however, Edelman, like his predecessor, Welker, gives Tom an incredible weapon.
I find it very hard to pick against the Patriots at home, and all things being equal, Tom Brady is the big difference here, but some things must happen. The Chiefs were dealt a huge blow in that destruction of the Texans, Jeremy Maclin, the ONLY real WR on the roster, went down with a high ankle sprain. As of Thursday afternoon, the word is he may play, game time decision. From my experience, especially watching and having to deal with Brandon Marshall in FF, he too had a high ankle sprain that lasted 5-6 weeks. In the first 2-3 games, he was nothing more than a decoy, because a WR needs to make cuts that your ankles will or will not allow you to make. The Patriots have injuries, but so what? This time of year all teams left do. Patriots win by ten, but if Gronk cannot play the game will be closer. Assuming Gronk is less than 100%, Patriots 23-20
Packers @ Cardinals
Let me blunt here, the Packers do not belong in this game! Somehow Rodgers became Super Man last week, otherwise this team is bad, especially in the area they should be best at, offense. I love Aaron, one of my favorite QBs in the NFL, but his supporting cast is awful.
The Cardinals are the best team in the NFL! They are rested, at home, and for the most part healthy. Their offense is a machine, their defense is scary good. They have flirted with this last two years, they are now ready to go all the way.
These teams played in this stadium a few weeks ago, the Packers were desperate for a win then too, they were blown out 38-8. The Cardinals have clicked on both sides of the ball all year, they will win this one, not quite by 30 points, because the Packers will score a lot of garbage-time- desperation points. Cardinals 41-30
Seahawks @ Panthers
The Seahawks played in one of the ugliest games of last weekend. At one point that balmy Minneapolis weather was down to -6 degrees. They are not the team that dominated last few years, yet they are here and ready to take on the Panthers.
The Carolina Panthers have had a magical season, especially when you consider that their best WR went down before any games were played. Cam Newton deserves the MVP, because he was their best RB as well as the QB that led a bunch of castoffs. The Panthers play a hard nosed tough football style, one that never gets old in the NFL, and usually takes teams deep into January.
This is going to be my surprise of the week. I am rooting Cam Newton all the way in this game, but I don’t think he can be Super Cam once again. The Seahawks are that team, that I mentioned earlier, the one that you would think it would be gone by now, but is still here. The Panthers will match them defensively, but right now Wilson and Baldwin are as good a combo as there is left in the playoffs. I think this game will be low scoring, and Cam may even score twice, but in the end, Seattle prevails and moves on to face the Cardinals, Seattle 18-17
Steelers @ Broncos
Steelers lost last week in Cincinnati, then won, then lost, and finally got lucky and won because ….Cincinnati. This team is explosive and they beat the Broncos at home a few weeks ago.
The Broncos are going back to Manning for this one, and they must play hard nosed football to pull this off. Being at home is a huge advantage, especially against a team that is coming in as banged up as there are in the NFL.
Antonio Brown may not play, but I think he does. Big Ben is and has been banged up all year. DeAngelo Williams is also banged up. These two teams will play very defensively, and I expect the score to be low. I will also make a weird prediction, one I always hate to make because it may involve injury. I don’t feel that Peyton Manning will finish this game as the starter. The Broncos win a very close game and host the Patriots next week, Broncos 17-16