NFL Playoffs: Wild Card Weekend

By Jim Kennedy
Jan. 06, 2017

Well, ladies and gentleman, it's time. The paths to Super Bowl 51 have been paved for the 12 remaining teams. For some, the path is easy. For others, the obstacles might not be enough to hurdle. With that being said, let's break down each matchup, starting with the Wild Card rounds. (Note: matchups are in order of kickoff times, starting with the Saturday games)

AFC Wild Card: #5 Oakland Raiders @ #4 Houston Texans

This matchup would be interesting if a) Derek Carr wasn't out for the rest of the year, and b) Brock Osweiler was actually good. Carr and the Raiders were looking for their first AFC West title since 2002. Then, Carr screamed "it's broke!" after taking a hard tackle, and they ended up with a wild card spot, with former Michigan State star Connor Cook looking to take the reins. The Texans come out of a weak AFC South, and thought Osweiler was the future. Well, he wasn't, and now that Tom Savage is in concussion protocol, Brock is back in the driver seat. The Raiders have too many weapons on offense, and Khalil Mack is leading a resurgent defense. The Texans are a team walking wounded, especially in their defense. I originally thought the Raiders were a Super Bowl team, but now I'm just hoping they get out of the first round. Raiders 27, Texans 17

NFC Wild Card: #6 Detroit Lions @ #3 Seattle Seahawks

The Detroit Lions are going into CenturyLink Field the losers of 3 straight games, the worst being New Year Day's NFC North title loss to the Green Bay Packers. The Seahawks were in contention of the #2 seed in the NFC, but with the tie on their record, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks will have to play one extra game on their road to Houston. The huge factor for this game that tips the tide in Seattle's favor is the home field advantage. CenturyLink Field is a hostile environment, especially on a January playoff game. It's loud, boisterous, and insane. The Seahawks have won 9 straight postseason home games, and when this one is all done, it's gonna be 10 in a row. I think the Lions will score some points, but it's gonna be too much for them to handle. Seahawks 31, Lions 17

AFC Wild Card: #6 Miami Dolphins @ #3 Pittsburgh Steelers

The Dolphins are coming in to this game without Ryan Tannehill, who injured his leg in week 14. But expect this to be a battle of the running backs, with the Steeler's Le'Veon Bell, who had a great season following a 3 game suspension to begin the season, facing the Dolphin's Jay Ajayi, who had a breakout season, posting 1,272 yards and 8 touchdowns. The Steelers have too many offensive weapons, with Ben Rothlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Bell, whereas Miami has Jarvis Landry at wide receiver. But the loss of Tannehill, plus the offensive firepower of the Steelers, are going to be too much for Miami to handle. Are the Dolphin's back? I believe so. Will they win this game? I don't think so. Steelers 31, Dolphins 20

NFC Wild Card: #5 New York Giants @ #4 Green Bay Packers

This is a game of interest, in my opinion. A resurgent Packers team "ran the table", won the NFC North, and now you got a home game at Lambeau Field. But, they take on Eli Manning and the New York Giants. The last time these two teams met in the playoff, the Giants won at Lambeau, on their own road to their last Super Bowl. Manning is coming in with offensive firepower like Beckham, Cruz, and the rookie Shepard, while Rodgers has receiving weapons, but a wounded running game. The positional advantages I believe the Giants have over the Packers are the pass rushing and defensive backfield. The pass rush has recorded 35 sacks and 52 tackles for a loss, while the backfield has 97 passes defended and 17 interceptions, with one of those going for a touchdown. Yes, the Packers are the hottest team in the Wild Card round right now, but if the pass rush can frustrate Rodgers, then the backfield will have a better chance to get interceptions and allow the Giants to move on to the divisional round. Giants 24, Packers 20