We are finally at the business end of the NFL season, the start of the playoff's is where all 32 teams began the season wanting to be. We start this weekend with the wildcard round which features four matches, from these four matches I have picked my winners which I have outlined in bold. Please let me know whether you agree with my picks and of not please let me know who you would choose instead.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans
Both of these teams have done exceptionally well to be in the playoffs after suffering very slow starts to their respective seasons. The Chiefs won their first game of the season at the Texans before failing to win in their next five games.
Their season then took a dramatic turn when they began a 10-game winning streak after their victory over the Steelers in week seven. This fantastic run of form meant they finished just one win behind the Broncos in the AFC west, an accomplishment not many in the NFL could foresee. On the flip side, the Texans had a very stop-start first nine weeks of their season before managing six wins from the final eight games in the lead up to the playoffs.
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I struggled with this one due to the matchup between one of the best defenses in the league and the ability of Alex Smith to make things happen when very few quarterbacks could thanks to his great movement and running speed. I decided to go with the Chiefs as their offense has impressed me immensely in the back-end of the season plus they are the form team and being on a run when you enter the playoffs usually bodes well.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals
The Steelers haven't really pulled up any trees this season but with seasoned veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger leading the team into the playoffs you wouldn't argue against them going all the way. The Steelers have been plagued by injuries all season long but they have shown tremendous resilience and desire in order to get to the playoff's, despite the injury-hit squad they currently have one of the most impressive and effective offenses in the league.
The Bengals themselves have their own injury concerns leading into this game with Andy Dalton still suffering from the fractured thumb he sustained on December 13. Since Dalton's been out of the team the Bengals have looked distinctly average.
With AJ McCarron in as his replacement the offense has struggled to regularly score big points which have placed further pressure on their impressive defense, that may have worked against a poor Ravens side in the last game but coming up against this Steelers team the whole Bengals squad will need to be at their best to get the win. With Dalton set to miss this one, I have to go with Big Ben and the Steelers.
Seattle Seahawks @ Minnesota Vikings
The Seahawks started slowly but they soon picked up the pace and they put down a marker in the final game when they dismantled an Arizona Cardinals side that had swept all before them leading into that match up.
They are one of the most well-balanced sides in the whole of the NFL with an almost impenetrable defense and an offense that averages over 350 yards per game, this combination will be crucial during the playoff battle.
The Vikings have impressed me this season but more often than not they have been dug out of trouble by their fantastic rushing game when their defense has failed to keep opposing teams out. This will be the Vikings downfall, they will not be able to limit the Seahawks scoring opportunities which will put far too much pressure on their rushing game.
Green Bay Packers @ Washington Redskins
This was a tough one for me to call, the Packers underperformed but have stumbled into the playoff's whilst the Redskins surpassed expectations on their way to winning probably the worst division this season in the form of the NFC East. This one will come down to which quarterback can make the biggest impact on the game.
The Packers have vast amounts of experience in Aaron Rodgers, he has been here and won it all before giving him the edge over Kirk Cousins in that department. There is no doubt his experience will be invaluable but you can't ignore he hasn't had a very consistent season and when he has struggled the Packers have usually gone on to lose.
On the flip side, Kirk Cousins entered this season with even Redskins fans doubting his ability, despite this he has finished the season with more passing yards, more total touchdowns, a better completion percentage and a better passer rating over Aaron Rodgers. He also had a superb run in the last ten games of the season earning himself a Quarterback rating of 119.1 which is not something to be sniffed at.
I have to go for a Packers win purely on the experience Rodgers has to adapt to any situation if the game was tied going into the last quarter you would put money on Rodgers leading the Packers over the line. I'm sure there will be a lot of twists and turns in this one and I'm picking it to be my game of the wild card round.