Wild Card Round
5. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) @ 4. Houston Texans (9-7)
Saturday, 4:35 PM ET, ABC/ESPN (Line: Chiefs by 3)
How could a team possibly wind up winning 10 straight games to end the season and actually turn around and lose to a nine-win Houston Texans squad who barely deserves to be playing this weekend?
Not at all. We’ve seen it many times before. Five years ago Marshan Lynch’s “Beast-Quake” run capped off an amazing victory for the eight-win Seattle Seahawks over the defending champion New Orleans Saints. Last season, the well below-average Carolina Panthers upset a tough Cardinals squad.
This time around it’ll be JJ Watt who enjoys the spotlight. He’ll play like a man possessed and do enough to bother Alex Smith all game long.
Look for a low-scoring, defensive battle that’ll go to the home team based on one fewer mistake than the Chiefs. This is that game that’ll shock the football world to get things off with a bang.
Texans 20, Chiefs 16
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) @ 3. Cincinnati Bengals (12-4)
Saturday, 8:15 PM ET, CBS (Line: Steelers by 3)
With Andy Dalton now confirmed as out, conventional wisdom has the cool, calm and collected Ben Roethlisberger as having enough at his disposal to get the job done on the road. He’s a champion while Marvin Lewis and company are still looking for that first playoff victory.
With the projected weather to be around 38 degrees at kickoff, there shouldn’t be much of a weather factor to worry about.
Having said that, look for the worst unit in this game – the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive backfield – to be toasted time and again by young AJ McCarron and the Bengals number of deadly weapons.
McCarron is a cocky kid, and this stage suits him just fine.
Bengals 34, Steelers 24
6. Seattle Seahawks (10-6) @ 3. Minnesota Vikings (11-5)
Sunday, 1:05 PM ET, NBC (Line: Seahawks by 5)
This one should be fun, that is if you’re watching it from the comfort of your living room. The expected game-time temperature will be a comfy 0 degrees. Yes, that’s right, zero degrees.
And while Minnesota fans will be hyped to witness their first outdoor home playoff game in a very long time, it’s impossible to bet against Super Bowl Champion Russell Wilson and these Seattle Seahawks.
Pete Carroll’s team will have little trouble advancing.
Seahawks 27, Vikings 14
Green Bay Packers (10-6) @ Washington Redskins (9-7)
Sunday, 4:40 PM ET, Fox (Line: Packers by 1)
When in doubt, go with the quarterback. That’s exactly what we’ll do here.
Even with Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins rolling into the tournament winning their last four, and Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers not currently knowing which end is up, we’ll go with the elite field general.