The NFL playoffs are underway and started off with a bang on wildcard weekend. Some wild finishes gave us much to look forward to throughout the playoffs and have lead to some interesting matchups in the divisional round. We are left with a slate of four potential instant classics, but only four will remain after this weekend. Let’s take a look at who I believe with be the NFL’s final four this year.
In the first matchup of the weekend. The red hot Kansas City Chiefs travel to Foxboro, MA to take on the limping New England Patriots. This may be the most underrated matchup of the week because of how under the radar Kansas City has been this year. Winners of 11 in a row, the Chiefs have looked unstoppable. A 30-0 win last week over Houston looks impressive, but those who actually watched know how bad the Texans are (especially at QB). While many argue that Kansas City have not played anyone good over their winning streak, the Chiefs are not a team to take lightly.
Meanwhile, for New England, the Patriots have battled the injury bug for the last half of the year and the battle is raging on. With the health of many of their top players in question, fans do not know what this team will look like come Saturday. All of their top weapons are expected to play, but the question is how will they perform. This Patriots team is the most mysterious we’ve seen in quite some time, but that’s no reason to believe they won’t come out and play well like they always do.
New England 24 Kansas City 14
In the second game of the weekend, The Green Bay Packers head to Arizona to take on the Cardinals. Green Bay has not looked like themselves this year as Aaron Rodgers has been far from his MVP form from a year ago. The Packers did look better last week in Washington as they pulled away from the Redskins.
Arizona is a huge step up in competition though, with one of the best defenses in the league and an offense that has been on fire. The Cardinals trounced the Packers earlier this year 38-8, but don’t expect that blowout once again. The Packers put up a fight, but still can’t find a way.
Arizona 34 Green Bay 21
Our third game of the divisional round includes the 15-1 Carolina Panthers and extremely fortunate Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks head into the divisional round after a blown 27-yard field goal at the end of their wildcard game with the Vikings. Seattle did not look very efficient the entire game, getting dominated for most of it, but just making enough plays after Minnesota wasn’t able to capitalize on mistakes.
As for the Panthers, their single loss in the regular season has made for a historic year. Cam Newton is the likely MVP and the Carolina defense is solid. Many believe the Panthers are not as good as advertised, which is possibly true due to the competition they’ve played this year, but a 15-1 record is no fluke.
Carolina 20 Seattle 17
The final game of the weekend includes the Pittsburgh Steelers going west to Denver to take on the Broncos. Pittsburgh is another team that survived in the wildcard round with the Bengals completely giving away the game. While the Steelers were able to come out on top, it came with some losses. All star wide receiver Antonio Brown has been ruled out with a concussion and Big Ben Roethlisberger injured his shoulder against Cincinnati, as well as running back DeAngelo Williams will be sidelined. While Big Ben is expected to play, his health is in question on whether he’ll be able to be 100%.
In Denver, the decision has been made by Coach Kubiak to go with Peyton Manning as the starting Quarterback. Will it be the right one? We will find out on Sunday, but I believe the defense is what will scratch out another victory for the Broncos and Big Ben will not be his usual self.