4 non division winners will challenge the teams the edged a division win. First, which teams are more of super bowl threats? Second, who will win? Let’s start with a look at my straight up playoff bracket.
I have the Seahawks knocking out the top 3 NFC seeds and losing in the Super Bowl, and the Steelers upsetting Cincy in the wild card round but losing to Denver.
Here are my picks:
Texans, 23, Chiefs, 20: Saturday, 4:35 PM EST
Both of these teams are on fire. Kansas City has clearly shown themselves by winning 10 straight. Houston struggled for a longer period of time, but have bounced back with 3 wins in a row. This will come down to every last second. The Texans have DeAndre Hopkins at his prime, who has broken out this year, and the Chiefs have Travis Kelce and Jeremy Maclin who will make an impact. But one thing that will surely impact this game is defense. In my opinion, both teams have a top 10 defense in the league. They both have extremely powerful pass rush and good to decent secondaries.
I don’t think this will be very high scoring, and I think it will come down to a field goal. Neither of these kickers, Nick Novak and Cairo Santos, are that good, but Santos has been streaky in good and bad ways. Novak once was very solid. I think Novak still has some of that consistency in him and that he can save the Texans’ butts in this game.
Steelers, 34, Bengals, 26: Saturday, 8:15 PM EST
I think that Pittsburgh’s run game will really miss DeAngelo Williams, not to mention Le’ Veon Bell. But the powerful pass and a solid QB in Big Ben should make up for it as he throws four TDs in this 8 point upset win. Ben Roethlisberger will go to his favorite trusty receivers, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton and Heath Miller, maybe Darrius Heyward-Bey, Matt Spaeth and Jacoby Jones for a bit. But the point is, Ben Roethlisberger and the pass will make a huge impact.
The Bengals on the other hand, have just mediocre receiver depth with a QB that’s a novice to the playoffs. Their run game trumps Pittsburgh as it’s at full health, but passing and QBs, along with experience are very important in the playoffs. Despite a much better defense than Pittsburgh, the Steelers’ offense will pay off.
Seahawks, 30, Vikings, 24: Sunday, 1:05 PM EST
Despite missing Marshawn Lynch this week, Seattle still has a shot to take down the Vikes on Sunday. The Seahawks are starting to discover a decent pass game, and the defense has been awesome. The pass rush should be good enough to limit AP, especially if he’s still a little banged up. The secondary should help limit Teddy B’s new receivers as well.
The Vikings defense is still young and developing, and should be able to limit the Seahawks, but not as much as they limit Minnesota. Seattle has edge in that way, and they should win, despite a weaker, more injured offense. They have great sleepers that haven’t come out of their shell yet this season.
Packers, 34, Redskins, 27: Sunday, 4:40 PM EST
I think this is a game that will be surprisingly high scoring due to bad defense. Aaron Rodgers is finally starting to throw the ball around a bit, and Eddie Lacy has begun to return to full form. James Starks has done well too. This team has gone a little bit young, but is growing power once again, power that may be strong enough to take out a top seed team after this. But Kirk Cousins will provide a challenge.
He has found his guys that he needs to win games and the Skins’ offense works very well together as a team. They’re good too. They’re o-line is much better, they have some reliable young receivers and the whole team is beginning to re-develop. But in the end, the Washington secondary is just too empty to stop the Packers in their reign and they will win by a touchdown or so.
So those are my picks for the week. Comment what you think will happen in the games.