It’s hard to believe we have already reached the second round of the playoffs in the NFL already. It seems like just yesterday we were pondering over how the Pats would manage without Tom Brady for a few games, or how the Panthers and Packers were possibly going to struggle without their best receivers. Here we are, approaching another great weekend of NFL action, and we have put those debates to bed. Time to talk about the here and now.
Chiefs at Patriots: Week 5 of this year, this matchup would seem way lopsided in New England’s favor, but now the Chiefs are coming off an impressive 11-game winning streak and the Patriots have lost three of their last five. Still, I can’t bet against Brady in January. While the Chiefs did run the gauntlet on the Texans, I don’t think they do it twice. Patriots win this one 26-20.
Packers at Cardinals: I think this is going to be the closest game this weekend. It’s obvious, but I’m going to say it anyways, whoever shows up is going to win. We know what these two teams can do when they’re firing on all cylinders. This game is going to boil down to who can play both sides of the ball for four quarters. The Cardinals have done it more often than the Packers have this season. I think Palmer sends the Cards to NFC Championship on a game winning drive. Cardinals eke out the Packers 27-21.
Seahawks at Panthers: If this isn’t going to be a defensive game, I don’t know what will. Seattle is ranked 1st in points allowed, allowing only 17.3 points per game and the Panthers are ranked 6th at 19.3 points a game. While known for their defenses, these teams can put up points on you too. Panthers are the better team offensively averaging 31.3 points a game, but the Seahawks aren’t too far behind at 26.4. The Panthers have had a great year so far. The Seahawks have somewhat of a bumpy road this season, but seem to have their usual fourth quarter magic, evidence of last week. If I had to pick an upset this week, this would be it. Seahawks squeak by 14-13.
Steelers at Broncos: I reserve the right to change my pick in this one. We’re still unsure of Big Ben’s status for this game, and it seems like Peyton Manning will get the start. With all those question marks there, this game is going to come down to who can run the ball effectively. Which brings us to our next question. Will DeAngelo Williams play? I don’t know either, I’m going to guess not by coach Tomlin’s comments yesterday by saying “he’s on the outside looking in” when asked about William’s status for the game. In summary, I think the Broncos will be able to run the ball more effectively. The fan part of me is going to begrudgingly rooting for the Steelers, the writer part of me says the Broncos win it 24-16.