The first round of the NFL playoffs start on January 7th when the Raiders travel to Houston to meet the Texans. What should we expect from the four games being played this weekend, and do any of these teams have a realistic shot at making a run to the Super Bowl?
The Steelers Look Like the Biggest Threat to the Patriots in the AFC
Pittsburgh has won seven games in a row thanks to the dominance of Le’Veon Bell. If they can get past Miami this week, they will likely play the Chiefs next week in what should be another winnable game. However, Miami will be a tough out and are playing well since starting the season 1-4. Jay Ajayi will look to have another 200 yard performance like he did against the Steelers in the regular season.
Seattle May Be the Biggest Threat in the NFC
Among the NFC wild card teams, the Seattle Seahawks look the most like a championship team. Detroit has lost three straight games and will face a Seattle defense built to both play at home and play its best games in the playoffs. To make matters worse, Matthew Stafford has an injured finger, which could make it even harder for him to throw the ball against a ball hawking defense.
Oakland at Houston Is Also a Playoff Game
No one was clamoring for Brock Osweiler vs Connor Cook in the first round of the playoffs. However, thanks to injuries to Tom Savage and Derek Carr, those are the two men who will try to lead their teams to the divisional round. If Pittsburgh beats Miami, the winner of this game likely travels to New England to be humiliated in front of a live viewing audience next week.
New York at Green Bay Could Be the Best Game All Weekend
Green Bay won six straight games to win the NFC North division and the right to host the Giants. After starting out 4-6, the team ripped off six straight wins off the arm of Aaron Rodgers, who has become a favorite to win the MVP, largely because of the team’s division-winning run. At 11-5, New York had the misfortune of playing in the only division that it wouldn’t have won thanks to the Dallas Cowboys miraculous season. You also have to consider that Eli Manning doesn’t lose playoff games no matter who they play or how big of an underdog they are.
If this were 1997, no one would think that a team could come into Lambeau Field and win, but the Packers have had trouble defending their home turf in recent years. This game will likely go to the final play or even into overtime before it is resolved. If Seattle wins, the winner of this game would play a Dallas team that has lost twice to New York already this season. They are like the Washington Capitals that can’t beat their big brother Rangers.
Right now, 10 of the 12 teams in the playoffs right now have a legitimate shot of winning the Super Bowl. However, for four of these teams, their season will come to an end this weekend while another four will keep the dream alive for a few more days.