The 2014 playoffs start today with the Wild-Card Round, and while our Patriots are not playing, there are still plenty of reasons to tune in. The Pats will get either the Colts, Bengals, or Chiefs, depending on how the next two days progress. I for one am hoping that they avoid the Bengals, but I don’t think it will happen. Here are my predictions for the Wild-Card matchups.
These two teams met a couple of weeks ago in Kansas City, with the Colts winning fairly easily, by a score of 23-7. I don’t think an Andy Reid coached team will be handled like that twice in a row by the same team, but I don’t envision the Chiefs coming out with a win. I think that Kansas City will come out and run the ball with Jamaal Charles, but eventually Alex Smith will be forced to make some plays, and I just don’t feel that he can out-duel Andrew Luck in Luck’s building. Robert Mathis will get to Smith multiple times, and the Colts advance to the divisional round.
I have picked Drew Brees and the Saints in every big game they have been in this season (including at New England), and pretty much every time they have come up short. But I believe in Brees, largely because I know that he is an elite quarterback, and he knows how to get it done when it counts. Yes, his team struggles outside of their dome, but the Eagles aren’t nearly as ferocious as the Seattle Seahawks. Nick Foles will be playing in his first playoff game, and I expect Rob Ryan’s top five defense to attack him. Containing LeSean McCoy will be key for New Orleans, because if they allow him to get going, I don’t know if they will be able to pull this out, but I am confident that Ryan will figure out a way to slow McCoy down, and allow Brees to do his thing.
San Francisco 49ers 14 Green Bay Packers 23
The temperatures in this game are expected to be extremely cold, and when you combine that with the difference in the two quarterbacks, I think the Packers will win this game. Aaron Rodgers is one of the best signal callers in the NFL, and while Kaepernick is certainly talented, I don’t trust him to go into freezing Lambeau, and outscore Rodgers. Green Bay also has a lethal running game, which will come in handy when trying to move the ball against this stingy Niner defensive front.
San Diego 20 Cincinnati 30
I would love nothing more than to see the Chargers pull this upset, because that would mean the Patriots wouldn’t have to face the Bengals in the divisional round. But Cincinnati is just too talented to lose to San Diego, especially at home, where they are undefeated in 2013. They carry one of the best defenses in the league on one side of the ball, and on the other side, they have a lot of explosive playmakers, led by wide receiver A.J. Green. Andy Dalton is far from elite, but he will have enough support in this one to get the job done, and earn a trip to New England, for the right to head to the AFC Championship Game.