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Alex Smith and Travis Kelce will be key to overcoming the Patriots.

NFL Picks Divisional Round: Panthers lose and Chiefs v Patriots is close

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Wildcard weekend is over with some blowouts, luck and heartbreak. In other words, playoff football and the Divisional Round offers some mouthwatering match-ups.

All of the games are hard to predict but I'll try my best after a perfect weekend last time out. So let's get to it:

NFC

Seattle Seahawks @ Carolina Panthers

Let's not beat around the bush, the Seahawks were unbelievably last week as Blair Walsh missed a chip shot of a field goal.

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Still, if they make an Ace Ventura 3 we'll know the plot line. Finkle and Einhorn, Finkle and Einhorn, Finkle and Einhorn, Finkle and Einhorn...Einhorn is a MAN!

Seattle travel from freezing Minnesota to Carolina with revenge on their minds after the Panthers won by four points at Century Link Field with 30 seconds to go in their regular season match-up.

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Also the Panthers have revenge on their minds after the Seahawks whooped their asses in last season's divisional round 31-17.

So this should be a pleasant one.

Wilson and Newton cancel each other out for their dual threat abilities so it could come down to the run game and Marshawn Lynch should return for this game after missing the trip to the Vikings.

This game will come down the defences and that's where Seattle will come out on top - they're the only defence that can stop Newton.

It will tight from the start and despite the fact that Carolina could be a special team, I think they'll just come up short and Seattle's experience will tell.

Winner: Seahawks, just

Green Bay Packers @ Arizona Cardinals

Aaron Rodgers looked comfortable last week at Washington - the first time he'd looked comfortable under centre for a while - as the Packers finished strong.

Pack was dominant for the first time since the start of the season but they were facing Washington, this week they face the Cardinals who nailed Rodgers at every opportunity they had in week 16 with a 38-8 mauling.

It was beautiful pass rushing - a clinic.

While this won't be a repeat score of that game, this is not a good match-up for the Packers with Carson Palmer able to open a game and apply pressure quickly.

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals

Just so long as Palmer hasn't carried the Bengals post-season curse with him since he left Cinncy.

To win, the Packers' running game has to be at an elite level - which I can't see - and they have to stop the Cardinals' big plays on offence and its pass rush from destroying a leaky o-line - which I also can't see.

Did I mention Green Bay could without WR Davante Adams and LT David Bakhtiari? Oops, things could get even tougher.

It won't be 38-8 but it will probably be the biggest winning margin of the weekend for Arizona.

Winner: Cardinals

AFC

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Denver Broncos

Pittsburgh just about escaped from Cincinnati with a two-point win in a physical game as Big Ben got banged up and DeAngelo Williams not there to help him out.

The Steelers face the number one defence in Denver and with these two stars hurt and just about able to play, it will be their biggest game and toughest test in years.

Both should play at the weekend, we all know how Roethlisberger plays through pain, but they'll face a challenge to turn the game into a shootout.

They can manage this against other teams but the Broncos? I doubt it.

San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos

Peyton starts the game as QB after he brought the Broncos back in week 17 with his typical efficient play - the Peyton we all know - and will take advantage of the Steelers' defence.

If the Steelers' three-man star attack was healthy, that's who I'd pick but Roethlisberger is nursing a shoulder injury and one sack could limit or put him out of the game while Antonio Brown and Williams are both banged-up.

One of the best defences, great wide-outs and running back combined with a QB who wants one last shot a Super Bowl before retiring at the end of the season should come out as the winner.

Winner: Broncos in a physical one

Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots

The Chiefs hammered the Texans 30-0 and continue their incredible turnaround with an 11, yes 11-game winning streak after a five-game losing streak (long live the streak!).

Kansas arguably has the most on-form defence who will stifle and pressure the Pats offensive line and hustle Brady - remember the last time these two played, the Chiefs won 41-14 last year and Brady was benched.

It won't be a game like that this time round but a banged-up Patriots (they somehow beat the Giants for the most injured team - I know, I can't believe it either) face a Chiefs team that is playing lights-out football and I think the Chiefs will win it.

The Pats will be overly reliable on Gronk and Edelman to play well - desperately so - while the Chiefs' secondary can match-up against anyone.

New England Patriots v Miami Dolphins

Tom Brady's won 113 of 133 home contests, per The Football Database, but I think it will become 113 of 134 after this one.

This won't be a shootout but it will be a tight one and I doubt fans of either team will have any nails left by the end of the game.

Maclin and Smith have been key for the Chiefs but Kelce could be the difference and prove to be an equal to Gronkowski and be the dominant TE of the future.

Possible overtime alert for this one.

Winner: Chiefs by a field goal/less than a TD (who deny us a final Brady vs Peyton - Boo!)

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Topics:
NFL
Kansas City Chiefs
Carolina Panthers
Denver Broncos
Green Bay Packers
Arizona Cardinals
Pittsburgh Steelers
Seattle Seahawks
New England Patriots

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