NFL Predictions – Playoffs Edition
By: Caleb Rouse
The regular season is over. The games have been played, and the playoff field is set. This week is Wild Card weekend. There are four games on the slate for the opening week of playoffs and all four games should be closely matched and a sure winner is hard to find. The game of the week has to be the matchup between the Cowboys and the Packers on Sunday Night, both teams come in hot which should provide for an entertaining game. Here are my picks for the 2017 Divisional Round Playoff Weekend in the NFL.
Game of the Week
Packers vs. Cowboys
The Game of the Week takes place in Arlington Texas as the Green Bay Packers come to town to face off against the Dallas Cowboys. Earlier this season, the Cowboys went to Green Bay and trounced the Packers 30-16, many would argue that the earlier game was an anomaly. They would say that the Packers are a completely different team, winning their last seven with Rodgers picking defenses apart. While this argument is valid, one could also argue that this Cowboys team is quite different as well. This is going to be decided in the trenches, can the Cowboys continue to pound the ball through their All-pro Rookie, or will the Packers defense dictate this game. Chances are that the Packers will force rookie Dak Prescott into throwing the ball much more in this contest, after all, his first interception of his career came against this Packers team. There is no doubt that this game will be a close one, but the difference between this Cowboys team and the rest of the teams that the Packers have faced in their 7 game win streak is that the Cowboys have an excellent run game, and they hardly turn the ball over. The Packers have not faced a true running game since they played the Titans in week 10 where DeMarco Murray put up 100+ on them in a Titans blowout win. I just can’t see the Packers putting together a good enough game on defense to stop this Cowboys attack. The Packers will have their work cut out for themselves this week on defense, but the Cowboys secondary will have a tough time guarding Rodgers and that Packers passing attack. Rodgers has been absolutely amazing in the win streak throwing for 22 touchdowns and ZERO interceptions. The Cowboys love their “keep it all in front of us” mentality on defense and should give up a few big throws in the middle, but hardly any deep. One of the biggest stories of this game that is going untold is that Dez Bryant will be looking to have a huge game after the result of the last time these two teams played in the playoffs. He will be looking for the kill and will only add to the difficulties this Packers team is facing. This game has all the makings of a great one, and I cannot wait for kickoff. This game goes in the Cowboys favor 37-28.
Seahawks vs. Falcons
When playoffs come around, all games are going to be good, but this one has all the makings of something great. The Falcons come in with the NFL’s second rated offense against the Seahawks fifth ranked defense. Last week, the Seahawks completely demolished the Lions at home due to their impressive rushing attack and stout defense. Wilson is someone to depend on in the playoffs as he has delivered all throughout his young career. The problem for this Seahawks team is not necessarily their opponents (who are quite good) but rather themselves. They have certainly not been the model of consistency this season, they have looked like the Super Bowl favorites one week, then a winless team the next. This week they face a strong Falcons offensive unit behind the arm of soon to be named NFL MVP (yes I’m calling it) Matt Ryan and their two running backs Coleman and Freeman. The Falcons have also had their issues this season, but were lucky enough to benefit from a late season Seahawks slide and got the bye week to start the playoffs. Ryan should be fresh and ready to go after the rest he got last week. This game will come down to two things, and both of them have to do with the Seahawks. Which Russell Wilson will show up? And Which defense will show up? The Super Bowl team from two years ago? Or the team that couldn’t get an offensive touchdown against the Rams? This should be an interesting rematch between these two teams with the season on the line. I pick the Falcons here because they are healthier, more rested, and their offense will put up numbers regardless. I am predicting a 31-28 win by the Falcons in this close matchup.
Texans vs. Patriots
This might get insulting but the Texans are one of the worst playoff teams in recent memory. Their offense was atrocious against the Raiders last week in their comfortable win at home. Now to be fair, the Texans have a great defense, quite possibly the best unit in the league statistically speaking, BUT they are going against the G.O.A.T. on the other side of the ball in Tom Brady, this is no longer Conner Cook (who was still able to put up points against this team last week somehow). I predict that this game is over by halftime and will serve as another bye week for the Patriots. Brady won’t have to play in the fourth quarter. Brock Osweiller played decent last week against a very mediocre Raiders defense and although he did okay, he will not have as easy of a time this week against that Patriots defense. Sorry Texans fans, your team is not as good as the Broncos were last year in route to their title. Patriots win 42-0.
Steelers vs. Chiefs
Our other game of the week. This is yet another rematch of an early season matchup between playoff teams. The Steelers were the beneficiaries of the first meeting, blowing out the Chiefs 43-14 in Pittsburgh. This game will not be the same outcome, both teams are playing MUCH better football at the moment and will be looking to move on to the AFC championship game. The Steelers finally have Ben, Bell, and Brown on the field at the same time for the playoffs, and last week we saw just how well that worked out for them against a stout Dolphins defense. Bell was able to set a playoffs franchise record for most yards in a game in route to a huge Steelers win. This Chiefs defense is a lot better than the Dolphins D, but it is just hard to guard players of that Caliber at skill positions in the NFL. The Chiefs took off after losing to the Steelers in that matchup and were able to secure the conferences number two seed and a first round bye. Now the Chiefs seem like the overwhelming favorites at home, I just have one problem with the Chiefs, their offense. They rely HEAVILY on the big plays, a lot from Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. They cannot depend on those plays to happen, sooner or later they are going to have to put multiple drives together to win games. Lucky for them, this Steelers defense is not the best in the league, but can play up to the level of opponents on any given Sunday. This game will be a close one, I predict that the Steelers offense behind Bell and Ben will be able to wear down this Chiefs team and win a nail-biter on the road. Steelers win 31-30.