By Sean Simara @Sean_FootyMad @TLE_Sport
Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots
The opening game of the Divisional round will see the Chiefs travel to the New England Patriots. The Pats of course came off a bye-week and that rest could be vital to a victory here. They will be hoping to have some players back from injury. Julian Edelman, Dont’a Hightower & Sebastian Volmer are on that list and if they start Saturday it’s a huge advantage for them. The Patriots have been hit with injuries all year, but QB Tom Brady has always found a way to win.
For the Chiefs, a blow-out 30-0 victory over Houston Texans gave them their 11th win on the spin. Can they make it 12? A lot will rely on the fitness of Jeremy Maclin. He suffered a high ankle sprain in the wildcard game so he is touch & go for this weekend. Attention will focus on the Chiefs’ Travis Kelce. Can Alex Smith find his tight-end? He will need full protection from a Patriots defensive line who are very strong.
I’m going for Tom Brady to get the job done in Foxborough and the Pats to end the streak.
Green Bay Packers @ Arizona Cardinals
The Packers went to Washington DC an d left with the win mocking Kirk Cousins infamous quote ‘you like that’. So now they return to where they had a horror show in week 16 and lost 38-8. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was eaten alive so how do they stop it from happening again? They have run the football more recently and Eddie Lacy had his best game of the year last week – they will need him again. Also they must protect Rodgers. If they do that he should deliver.
The Cardinals, though, will fancy their chances on Saturday night. David Johnson will be vital for Arizona – if he gets running if fear he won’t stop. This should be a fun match-up – not the blow out win for Arizona like last time, though. In week 17 Seattle Seahawks won 36-6 in Arizona. However, their eye may have been off the ball. We also saw from last week that regular season blowouts sometimes don’t repeat themselves.
The Cardinals are favourites and expected to win at home. Green Bay have the experience and a bit of confidence going into the match. With revenge on their mind, I think the Packers are going to find a way to win this if they can protect Rodgers.
Seattle Seahawks @ Carolina Panthers
For me, this will be the game of the weekend and the hardest to predict. Look at some of the names on show: my regular season MVP Cam Newton, Ted Ginn, Greg Olsen, Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin. The list goes on.
There’s a saying in an another American sport ‘to be the man you got to beat the man’. This season Cam has been that ‘man’. He won in Seattle earlier this campaign which was massive for the Panthers. So now in their own back yard can they get the win? After the year the Panthers have had it would be a shame for in to end in the first post-season game.
Seattle, though, will believe destiny is on their side. That Blair Walsh kick? They were going home but still find themselves alive. So who wins? This could even go to overtime, but I think Cam Newton will get the better of the Seahawks once again.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Denver Broncos
After a hell of a game against the Cincinnati Bengals, a battered and bruised Steelers head to the mile high city. It’s a tricky one to predict as the injury status of Antonio Brown (concussion) & Ben Roethlisberger (AC Joint), which they picked up in that tasty game against the Bengals, is still not known.
We do know though that Peyton Manning will start and again and it could come down to rest and fitness. I’m going to back one of my favourite wide receivers Antonio Brown (hopefully he does get passed fit to play) and the Pittsburgh Steelers to get the victory in this one.