NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round

By Jim Kennedy
Jan. 12, 2017

Hey, a 2-2 record isn't a bad way to start the playoffs. I thought that Oakland and New York were going to play better than they did in their respective games. But, the results are in, the Wild Card round is done, and we're moving on to next week. The divisional rounds is where Super Bowl predictions will be made or broken, and the matchups for this round are juicy. Let's see if I can sweep the categories this time!

NFC: #4 Green Bay Packers @ #1 Dallas Cowboys 

The Packers got a big break against the Giants at Lambeau, thanks to yet another Hail Mary pass from Aaron Rodgers. Now the cheeseheads go into AT&T Stadium to take on a possible cold Cowboys team, losers of 2 of the last 3 matchups, and a bye week to boot. Yes, Zeke Elliott and Dak Prescott were incredible this season, but they're rookies. I don't consider rookies great unless they can do what they did the following season. The Packers will come into this game possibly without Jordy Nelson, who left the game against New York with a rib injury. Although Rodgers is coming into this game red hot, he's going to face a stingy Cowboys defensive line that will no doubt give him problems. Don't expect this to be a cake walk for Prescott and Elliott, however, as the Packers linebacking corp will be as relentless as can be. But I see the Packers' run coming to an end at Jerry's World, in a fiery shootout. Cowboys 38, Packers 28

NFC: #3 Seattle Seahawks @ #2 Atlanta Falcons

This is a game that I am dying to see. Julio Jones vs Richard Sherman. Matt Ryan vs Russell Wilson. Two teams with everything to lose. The Seahawks come in to this game after decimating the Lions in their Wild Card game, while Atlanta is looking to the NFC Championship for the first time since 2012. The thing to keep in mind is that Seattle's defensive backs haven't gotten an interception since Earl Thomas got hurt. I can't wait to see Sherman take on Julio Jones, who had a career season this year. Falcons fans: if your team is going to win, then they need to rely on a plethora of passing plays against this deflated backfield, and on defense, don't make Rawls look great by making him run for 161 yards and 1 touchdown. For the Seahawks to win this game, however, they have to shut down Julio Jones. Tough task, and I think the week off will benefit the Falcons at home in a ruckus Georgia Dome. Falcons 27, Seahawks 17

AFC: #4 Houston Texans @ #1 New England Patriots

This is a trap game for the Patriots, in my opinion. The Texans defense dominated Oakland, even though it was their third string quarterback. Houston should be able to take that defensive momentum into Foxboro and use it to aggravate Tom Brady and his offensive weapons. Brady has looked great this season, despite serving a 4 game suspension to begin the season. He's had to utilize Marcellus Bennett since Rob Gronkowski was lost to a knee injury, and the addition of Michael Floyd after being released from the Cardinals after a DUI arrest helped Brady out. But the Texans are going to be huge underdogs, and if they want to pull the upset, their defense needs to be on their toes the whole time, and Brock Osweiler MUST be confident and have a perfect game. I will not be surprised if Houston wins, but with all of the weapons the Patriots have on offense and defense, I don't see it happening. Patriots 45, Texans 20

AFC: #3 Pittsburgh Steelers @ #2 Kansas City Chiefs

In this game, you need to keep an eye on four players, two from Pittsburgh and two from Kansas City. From the Steelers, you need to see Le'Veon Bell, who ran for 167 yards and 2 touchdowns; and Antonio Brown, who caught 5 balls for 124 yards and two touchdowns against the Dolphins at Heinz Field. For the Chiefs, it's Alex Smith, who's passed for 3,502 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions this season; and Tyreek Hill, who is a special teams race car. This game is a toss up, but the thing that concerns me is Ben Rothlisberger's foot injury. I don't think it's going to be an issue, but if the Chiefs defense can exploit that, then the Steeler's offense might be in trouble. The Chiefs are a team that everyone expects to make a run for the title, and even though they have the #2 seed, that's only because Oakland fell off once Derek Carr got hurt. I haven't been impressed with the Chiefs this season, but if they win, I'll think they're legit. Sadly, Chiefs nation, the Terrible Towel will be waving en mass! Steelers 38, Chiefs 21