03 Jan 2017 NFL Wild Card Playoff Week:
By: Lou Landers
Well, the NFL playoffs are finally upon us! Wildcard weekend kicks off this Saturday, January 7th. Each conference has 2 teams on bye weeks (Cowboys and Falcons NFC, Patriots and Chiefs AFC) as well as two games each. In this article I’ll break down each game and pick a winner.
Oakland Raiders @ Houston Texans:
In no way am I a fan of the Oakland Raiders, however I gotta say, this team was so fun to watch this season. Unless you dis like the Raiders, you have to feel bad for them and their fans after seeing franchise QB and possible MVP candidate Derek Carr get injured. I think it’s going to be incredibly difficult for the Raiders to win the playoffs without him.
Now, over to the Texans. They have their own issues at QB. They paid Brock Osweiler 72 million over 4 years and he has been just dreadful. If not for an injury last week to back up QB Tom Savage, Brock would be sitting on the bench for this weeks game vs Oakland. As bad as this situation is for the Texans, they do have a great defense and have the luxury of playing at home.
My pick: Houston Texans (20-16 Final)
Miami Dolphins @ Pittsburgh Steelers:
The Dolphins were one of the NFL’s most pleasant surprises this year, winning 10 games and making the playoffs. The emergence of RB Jay Ajayi is one of the biggest reasons for that. Although it appears that QB Ryan Tannehill will be out again this week, I’m a believer that Matt Moore is equally as effective, if not more. They will be in tough this week against a very good Steelers team who is incredibly tough to beat in Pittsburgh.
Over to the Steelers. If you forget about their 4 game losing streak in the middle of the season, they were one of the best and most dominant teams in the NFL. They can score with any body and have 3 of the best players in the game today in Big Ben, Antonio Brown and LeVeon Bell. There defense has had its ups and down this season, however lately they have been getting more sacks and forcing more turnovers. If there is a team playing this weekend that has any chance of knocking off the Patriots at some point, the Steelers are my choice.
My Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers (30-20 Final)
Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks:
The Lions seemed to have the NFC North division locked up weeks ago. Due to a losing streak to end the season, Matt Staffords broken middle finger and a week 17 loss to the division rival Packers, they find themselves in the 6th seed in the NFC playoffs. This of course sets up a date in Seattle with the Seahawks, a team that is notorious for being next to impossible to beat at home.
The Seahawks on the other hand, won the NFC West with relative ease. IMO, not only was that division the worst in football this season, but the Seahawks as a team were weaker than they’ve been since Russell Wilson entered the league. With the loss of Safety Earl Thomas on their defense, they’ve allowed a total of 63 points over the last 2 weeks. That doesn’t bode well for them considering the Lions have one of the leagues top offenses.
My Pick: Lions in an upset (24-20 Final)
New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers:
This is 100% the best game of the week. It’s almost impossible to predict.
The Giants have a dominant defense that can make even the best offensive players in the league look sub par. Defense wins championships and the Giants have shown in the past that they are very capable of winning 3 games on the road on their way to the Super Bowl. The one concern I have about them is how one dimensional their offense tends to be. They will need RB Paul Perkins to step it in the playoffs to give them a chance of going anywhere.
Over to the Packers. They were 4-6 at one time and there were even rumors that head coach Mike McCarthy’s job was on the line. Since then, they’ve gone 6-0, won the NFC North and are arguably the scariest team in the post season right now. Aaron Rodgers is the favorite for MVP in my opinion, and could lead the Packers all the way to Super Bowl 51.
My Pick: Green Bay Packers (20-13 Final)