NFL playoff preview: Wild Card

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Andrew Lubbers

Eight NFL teams kick off the 2016 playoffs in this week’s Wild Card round.

Andrew Lubbers and Emmett Schindler

As Jim Mora once famously said: “Playoffs?” Yes Jim, they have finally arrived. After a brutal and well-fought regular season, twelve teams found themselves a step closer towards the Super Bowl. Without further ado, here are The Chant’s previews for the upcoming playoff games.

Wild Card Round: AFC

BYES- #1 Denver Broncos, #2 New England Patriots

#6 Pittsburgh Steelers @ #3 Cincinnati Bengals

Saturday, January 9

8:15  P.M.

Football fans love seeing the fierce rivalry matchup in the first round of the playoffs. Despite it being in Cincinnati, the statistics show an advantage for Pittsburgh. In the past 16 games in Cincy, the Steelers won 13 of them, including one this season. They did split their meetings this season, but the Bengals will have to figure out a way to win at home. Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown look to spoil the Bengals’ hopes of finally getting a playoff win, while Jeremy Hill and AJ Green plan otherwise. The injuries list keeps piling for both of these teams. With Le’veon Bell out for the year already, DeAngelo Williams stepped up in the middle of the season, but suffered an ankle injury last week and now stands questionable. As of now, AJ McCarron plans to start at quarterback for the Bengals, but if Andy Dalton’s thumb heals up, he will start. All in all, it will be a brutal first game, but the Steelers will come out victorious and will play Denver the following week.

Steelers 31 Bengals 24

 

#5 Kansas City Chiefs @ #4 Houston Texans

Saturday, January 9

4:20 P.M.

Two streaking teams towards the end of the season face off in the first round, and neither want to go home. The Chiefs have won 10 games in a row, and have not lost since the Kansas City Royals won the World Series… weird. But, the Texans have won seven of their last nine and have fought to the last minute of every single game, behind their strong defense. Both of these teams have not shown playoff dominance in the past, but they plan on rising to the occasion and showing the league their Super Bowl potential. Chiefs Alex Smith and Justin Houston played as huge roles into their huge win streak, but Texans Deandre Hopkins and former defensive player of the year, JJ Watt, plan to spoil their playoff run. In the end, the Texans will have a slight edge over the Chiefs, and go on to play New England next round.

Texans 17 Chiefs 16

NFC

BYES- #1 Carolina Panthers, #2 Arizona Cardinals

#6 Seattle Seahawks @ #3 Minnesota Vikings

Sunday, January 10

1:05 P.M.

With both teams coming off of statement victories in week 17, this matchup features two clubs playing their best football of the year. NFL rushing champion Adrian Peterson and the young, ravenous Vikings defense, lead by second-year coach Mike Zimmer, must step to take the pressure off of Teddy Bridgewater. Without a solid defensive effort and monster day from A.D., the Vikings’ chances to advance are slim. The two-time defending NFC champion Seahawks, loaded with playoff experience, get their workhorse back as Marshawn Lynch will play in his first game since November 15. Russell Wilson found his stride late in the year as he threw multiple touchdowns in each of his final seven games, after doing so just once in the prior nine. A dominant playoff past and a hot QB will lead the Seahawks to a road victory in Minnesota  and send them to 15-1 Carolina next week.

Seahawks 27 Vikings 17

#5 Packers @ #4 Redskins

Sunday, January 10

4:40 P.M.

Kirk Cousins backed up Jay Gruden’s decision not to play RGIII and established himself as the quarterback of the future in Washington. But, like the Vikings, the Redskins’ last playoff appearance came during 2012 season, and the Packers, though struggling, are playoff perennials and know how to win. Aaron Rodgers won three road games en route to a Super Bowl title in 2010, and his leadership and experience will lead Green Bay on the road once again. If Green Bay’s offensive line can protect Aaron Rodgers and establish some sort of running game, the Pack will be on track to get out of Washington with a victory. The Redskins will attempt to get Alfred Morris running early. But Jay Gruden proved that he will easily abandon the run game and put the game in the hands of Cousins, Jordan Reed, and Pierre Garcon. Ultimately, Aaron Rodgers will return to his old ways and defeat the Redskins in dramatic fashion, setting up a divisional showdown in Arizona.

Packers 24 Redskins 21