AFC Wildcard Round Keys to Victory + Predictions 

Santos

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Houston Texans

4:35 pm est, ESPN

Kansas City’s Keys to Victory

Their game is played in the trenches on offense and on defense. Dontari Poe is going to have to plug holes to make sure Houston can’t pound the ball up the middle. Justin Houston and Tamba Hali are going to have to make quick plays off the edge to stop Brian Hoyer from finding a rhythm with Houston’s star wideout DeAndre Hopkins. With Derrick Johnson being a premier MLB in the NFL and Marcus Peter leading the league in interceptions and being in conversation for Defensive Rookie of the Year, this defense has a shot at making a deep postseason run.

Houston’s Keys to Victory

This is basically the same defense in different uniforms. One of the best Nose Tackles in Vince Wilfork surronded by former MVP candidate JJ Watt and underrated pass rusher Whitney Mercilus all can stop the run and disrupt the line making life hard on QBs and Running backs. Houston’s defense has led every major category since week 8. Houston will have to get pressure on Alex Smith to stop him from finding a rhythm with big play threats like Travis Kelce and Jeremy Maclin.

Prediction

JJ Watt isn’t considered the most dominant force since Lawrence Taylor for nothing. I see him leading his defense with 9 QB pressures and 2 sacks. Hoyer has a lot less pressure to win, so Houston should win 17-16.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals

8:15 pm est, CBS

Pittsburgh’s Keys to Victory

ANTONIO BROWN! Get the ball in Brown’s hands early and often. DeAngelo Williams has been ruled out according to NFL.com. Brown should get a high volume of looks with the occasional deep ball to Martavis Bryant, but in the forecasted wet conditions, the deep ball isnt a quarterback’s best friend. This potent Steeler offense is going to have to get to 28 points early to put pressure on rookie AJ McCarron to air the ball out for Cincinnati. If Pittsburgh can score early and often, they’ll win this matchup in remarkable fashion.

Cincinnati’s Keys to Victory

The Bengals are going to have to play smashmouth football on offense and defense. These men are going to have to look like the Steelers did just a few years ago, but they have the weapons. Vontaze Burfict is a hard hitting linebacker that needs to have the game of his life. Geno Atkins, Demoto Peko and Michael Johnson have a strong chance at taking advantage of an injury depleted O-Line. Beating Pittsburgh this season has come down to beating up Big Ben and having a playmaking tight end to take advantage of a young linebacker corps and decent safety play. Tyler Eifert is a top 3 tight end this season and can easily break out for 80 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Prediction

AJ McCarron is a winner, and that’s what he will do here. AJ will throw for 61%, + 280+yards and 3 touchdowns with 1 interception. Steelers go home after not being able to seal the game with no run game, 31-24 Cincinnati.

 

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