While it’s tough to trust Alex Smith and Andy Reid in a playoff game, they should be able to beat up on the weak opponent that is the Tennessee Titans. This might be slightly less depressing than the Raiders vs. Texans game last year, but less one-sided than Chiefs vs. Texans from the year before.
Prediction: Chiefs win
Falcons @ Rams
The Falcons were able to squeak out a few good wins and slide into the last Wild Card spot, but they’re desperate to be put out of their misery. The Rams might be young and inexperienced, but they actually want to win. This might start off close, but I expect the Rams to blow this open in the 2nd half, if not the 2nd quarter. I hope we get to see a few awesome Todd Gurley playoff games.
Prediction: Rams win
Bills @ Jaguars
As much as I love that one of these teams HAS to win, I hate that one of them has to lose. The Bills have a pretty good chance of winning if LeSean McCoy can play. The Bills have the better Quarterback and possibly the better running back, depending on health. If the Bills defense plays decently or if Blake Bortles gives them the ball more than he does to his own team (I’m a Bortles Believer, but also not blind). I think the Jags ultimately win, but this has a decent chance of going either way.
Prediction: Jaguars win
Panthers @ Saints
The Saints have had a great year and won both of their regular season games against the Panthers. The Panthers have been inconsistent, but I think the Panthers are the better team and Cam can win this one by himself if he has to. Of course it’s possible Brees and Kamara both have great games and pull off another win against the Panthers, but I don’t think they pull it off a third time this season.
Both of these teams got off to pretty rough starts this season. The Chiefs went 1-5 and lost running back Jamaal Charles, who many would consider their best player, to a season-ending torn ACL. The Texans had a 1-4 start and have a number of quarterback issues throughout the season. Since their respective starts, the Chiefs have won 10 in a row and the Texans have gone 8-3. I would love to see Alex Smith make a deep playoff run after taking the 49ers to an NFC Championship game four years ago and Andy Reid get a chance at another Superbowl after taking the Eagles to Superbowl XXIX. That said,Hard Knockshad me rooting for the Texans this season (despite JJ Watt becoming almost insufferable). I think DeAndre Hopkins is one of the most exciting receivers in the NFL and it will be great to see him in a playoff game. But, the bottom line is the Chiefs are the better team. Despite Alex Smith and Andy Reid not always being reliable, I think they have proven that they have something special this year, and I see them taking this to the next round.
Prediction: Chiefs win
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals
Saturday January 9 at 5:15pm PST (8:15pm EST)
A lot of this depends on whether or not Andy Dalton can play, and if he can play with a busted thumb. As of right now, AJ McCarron is starting. If that’s the case, I don’t see how the Bengals can beat the Steelers. To be fair, Andy Dalton has had trouble winning in nationally televised games and playoff games anyway. So far, Dalton is 0-4 in the playoffs with the Bengals. This year, he played in their 11/5/15 Thursday Night Football game against the Browns, which they won, but again, was against the Browns. The Bengals lost both Monday Night Football Games this year. Dalton on ply played in the first on 11/16/15 in Houston. The Bengals were held to 6 points from two field goals. The Bengals split the season series with the Steelers, winning 11/1/15 in Pittsburgh (16-10) and losing 12/13/15 in Cincinnati (33-20), the game in which Dalton was injured. All that is to say, I do not really even need to get into all the advantages that Pittsburgh has; unless Mike Tomlin makes some bizarre decisions that give the game away, the Bengals may not have a chance with or without Andy Dalton.
Prediction: Steelers win
Seattle Seahawks @ Minnesota Vikings
Sunday January 10 at 10:05am PST (1:05pm EST)
It’s hard to say if either of these teams really have an impressive win. But, if I had to choose one for Seattle, it might be their only head-to-head matchup with the Vikings this season on 12/6/15. The Seahawks won in a 38-7 blowout. I really want Minnesota to win this, and I think that they can. But, with Seattle getting Marshawn Lynch back, I think they’re in for another win in Minnesota, but I expect this to be a much closer game.