NFL Divisional Round Preview
After a Wild Card playoff round filled with surprises, the NFL playoffs continues with the divisional playoff round. At this stage of the playoffs, eight teams remain, and the top two seeds in the NFC and AFC both take part in games once again after a first round bye in the Wild Card round. Who will advance and qualify for their conference championship games? Here’s a preview of the weekend’s NFL action.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots
Having won eleven games in a row, the Kansas City Chiefs are on fire heading into the Divisional round against the second seeded New England Patriots, who have struggled to finish out the regular season. While the Chiefs have been spectacular on both offense and defense, it is very difficult to imagine them winning in New England in the playoffs, something that not many teams have been able to do during the Tom Brady era. But if there’s any team that can pull it off, it’s the Chiefs as they have been great at limiting their own mistake while forcing plenty of turnovers with their defensive playmakers.
Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals
One of the more lopsided games in the NFL this season came when the Green Bay Packers were destroyed by the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale earlier in the year. Here, they meet again in Arizona, and the Cardinals will be big favorites based on that previous result. Arizona has been firing on all cylinders, but don’t have the same degree of playoff experience as this Packers team, which could be a great equalizer between these two squads.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers
This should be the most interesting game of the weekend, with the top seeded Carolina Panthers taking on the back-to-back NFC champion Seattle Seahawks. Carolina should come in fresher after a week off, but Seattle’s defense looks to be in great form after destroying the Arizona Cardinals to end the regular season and shutting down the Minnesota Vikings last week. Carolina, meanwhile, has been tough to stop offensively this season thanks to the frontrunner to win NFL Most Valuable Player Cam Newton, and won’t make the day an easy one for Seattle’s defense. No matter what happens in this game, it is going to be a close one and will be decided with defense.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos
When the Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos met earlier this year it was a great game, with the Steelers coming back from a 17 point deficit to win in the second half. This time, however, Peyton Manning will be back to play quarterback for Denver, which could change everything against a Steelers team that does not have a fully healthy Ben Roethlisberger or Antonio Brown, who were injured in the Steelers’ grueling win over the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card round. Denver’s defense should be enough to get them through here, but we’ve seen Peyton Manning led teams blow these opportunities in the past, so you can never be sure.