We are in the second round of the NFL playoffs. The Wildcard weekend was considered a success but was honestly no surprise. I predicted over on Facebook that all of the home teams would win. To be honest, I felt like the Texans-Raiders match up was basically a toss up but gave the edge to Houston for playing at home and actually having their starting Quarterback (even if it is just Brock Osweiler). The Texans, Steelers, Packers, and Seahawks all won their games this past weekend so this next round of games should be pretty contentious.
- New England Patriots
The Patriots have the easiest path to the Super Bowl and it looks as if they will be in it barring some injuries or just laying an egg. The Texans are who they will be playing this weekend and I have very little faith in them at this point. The Patriots had a bye in Week 1 and will be honestly more than likely have another bye this weekend playing the struggling Texans. I suspect this will not be a very close game as Tom Brady is on a mission to let people know that he still has it. I see him playing another 3-4 seasons at least.
- Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons are riding on a four game winning streak to end the regular season. They were fighting for a first round bye on top of trying to win their division until the final couple of weeks of the season. Matt Ryan failed to reach the 5000 yard mark for the first time in his career by 56 yards. If you consider his rushing yards (117 yards to be exact) he really was responsible for more than 5000 yards of offense. The Falcons offense is on fleek right now and there really is nothing anyone can do to stop them. This weekends match up will be a great test for the Seahawks with Earl Thomas being injured and Julio Jones with those Antonio Brown like after burners.
- Green Bay Packers
Green Bay is the hottest team in the NFL right now. They started out the season 4-6 when Aaron Rodgers famously stated that they wouldn’t lose again. Flash forward to where they are at in the playoffs and they are now 11-6 backing up everything Rodgers felt. Since the end of Week 10 Rodgers has thrown 24 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He rushed for a touchdown as well. This does not bode well for a Cowboys team who is coming off a loss and bye week while the Packers are still pretty worn in.
- Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys are coming off an end of season loss to their rival the Philadelphia Eagles. While the Cowboys were not really fighting for anything and some of their starters didn’t even play (including their star running back Ezekiel Elliot) you never want to go into the playoffs with a loss. This is especially true when you have a bye the first round of the playoffs. Nevertheless expect the Cowboys to control the time of possession which will be key to getting a victory against the Packers.
- Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers and Chiefs game looks to be one of the more interesting ones of the weekend. The game has already been rescheduled due to stormy weather that is expected to happen. It’s at Kansas City which does effectively give them the advantage but I just don’t trust Alex Smith over Ben Roethlisberger which is the biggest reason I put them ahead of the Chiefs in the rankings. When it comes down to it, under bad conditions it’s really anyone’s game. It should be noted that after going 4-5 to start the season the Steelers have not lost a game and are now 12-5 going into this weekend. It should also be noted that the Steelers played the Chiefs in the regular season and crushed them 43-14 (which is the other reason I have the Steelers ranked ahead of the Chiefs). Roethlisberger threw for 300 yards and 5 touchdowns that game in which fantasy owners must have been in heaven.
- Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs started the season 2-2 and finshed the that 12 games 10-2 and got a bye in the first round of the playoffs. Who knows what the extra week off has done for Alex Smith and the Chiefs. The Chiefs are a fairly evenly divided offense and above average defense. They do allow more rushing and passing yards than they themselves produce but the nature of the game on Sunday against the Steelers could play into the hands of the Chiefs. The cold weather matched with being at home and having a home crowd who isn’t afraid to show up to a cold game should give the Chiefs a slight edge in the match-up against the potent offense of the Steelers. It should help take Antonio Brown out of the game. Brown is coming off a really great game in which he pulled in over 120 yards in receiving yards with 2 touchdowns. He averaged 25 yards per catch as well. I would think that this would not be the case
- Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks have a hard road ahead of them. Losing Earl Thomas has put a major dent in their defense. Richard Sherman will more than likely be on Julio Jones most of the game unless Atlanta keeps Jones on the other side of the field. They played the Falcons in Week 5 coming off their bye week and ended up winning the game at home 26-24. Pete Carroll is looking to make up for that Super Bowl blunder against the Patriots two seasons ago. That passing play is still going down as one of the worst decisions that a head coach has made in the Super Bowl era. To me it almost seems like bad luck honestly.
- Houston Texans
The Texans had some major ups and downs this season even benching their starting Quarterback Brock Osweiler at one point that smacked of a mother punishing her child for getting a bad grade on a test. There is a reason these guys are picked last in my rankings. The biggest being that their match-up this week is against the New England Patriots. This will not be a pretty game unless the Texans defense can step up their game and score some points. Look for Brady to have a harder time than he normally does being protected. I would say if the Texans can get to Brady and have more than 5 sacks this could be a game that the Texans could prevail.