Brace yourself people, it’s that time of year again when we all give thanks to the heavens above; the NFL playoffs have finally arrived.
Kicking it off on Saturday, Jan 7 are the wild card weekend games. First up we’ll see the underdog Oakland Raiders fly to Houston to do battle with the Texans (4:35pm ET, ESPN/ABC).
Following that the Detroit Lions head to Seattle to take on the in-form Seahawks (8:15pm, NBC)
Don’t fret folks, the action continues on Sunday, Jan 8 where the Miami Dolphins take their talents to Pittsburgh, attempting to upset the Steelers for a second time in a row (1:05pm, CBS).
Last but certainly not least is arguably the biggest match of the weekend. The New York Giants and Green Bay Packers go to war at Lambeau field (4:40pm, FOX).
Oakland (5) vs Houston (4)
After a loss on Sunday to the Broncos, the Raiders look to bounce back against the 5th placed Texans. It’s going to be far from easy though, the big question still remains, who exactly is going to be their starting QB?
The Raiders are hoping that McGloin will be fit and ready to go, that’s looking highly unlikely though with McGloin injuring his shoulder against Denver.
Next in the QB line is Cook, the young rookie who was brought in with a fourth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. The only problem is Cook has never played a single game in the NFL. If this likely scenario unfolds, Cook will be the first player ever to play in his first career game in the postseason… Not exactly a recipe for success.
Don’t throw in the towel yet though, the Texans QB situation is almost as crummy. Tom Savage is in doubt after suffering a severe concussion in the loss to Tennessee.
Regardless of the QB situation, Oakland has a lot to feel positive about.
They were a full three games better than the Texans in the regular season. With the Raiders having one of the leagues best running games, it could see them get the W.
Detroit (6) vs Seattle (3)
This is going to be a MAMMOTH task for Detroit. First of all the lions have NEVER won on the road in the playoffs before… Yes that’s correct, they’re 0-10….
Secondly, they face a Seahawks team that’s been almost unbeatable at home, going 7-1 at the CenturyLink Field fortress.
How are the Seahwaks so good at home you ask? Well, I’m glad you did. The answer is of course Pete Carroll. Since he was signed in 2010, Seattle has enjoyed a 5-0 record at home in the playoffs.
Detroit are coming in to the game on a losing streak of 3 games, all to playoff sides.
The only thing to be optimistic about if you’re a Lions fan is the horrible defence Seattle has shown without Earl Thomas. There’s only couple of players in the NFL that can play at the level Thomas plays at, none of which are on the Seahawks roster. Terrell is doing all he can, but it will never match the future hall of famer’s game.
Running backs have had their way with this defence of late; maybe the Lions can pounce on the opportunity.
Miami (6) vs Pittsburgh (3)
To most NFL fans it might come as a surprise that the Dolphins are ranked 6 and Steelers 3. The Dolphins handed Pittsburgh a 30-15 loss last time around, how can they be ranked so low?
Coming in to week 17, Le’Veon Bell was ranked 2nd in the NFL for rushing yards. That’s with missing the first 3 games of the season.
The insanely talented Ben Roethlisberger started the season on fire as well, throwing 300 yards from round 1 to 10. Chants of MVP could be heard every time the guy touched the ball.
“But Pittsburgh started with a 4-5 record, how can that be possible?”
Pittsburgh was plagued by injuries at the start of the season, it’s only now that they have a healthy roster. With a healthy Bell and Roethlisberger the Steelers are clear favorites.
The Dolphins look like they’ll be starting Matt Moore at QB. He’s never played a playoff game, which is understandable considering Miami haven’t seen the post season since 2008.
A strength the Dolphins do have is a solid defensive line led by Ndamukong Suh and an electric pass rusher in Cameran wake. If the Dolphins want to make a game of this, they’ll need the offensive line to win the contest at the line of scrimmage.
New York Giants (5) vs Green Bay Packers (4)
This will definitely be the match of the weekend with both teams coming in to this one red-hot.
The Giants are on an absolute tear at the moment winning 9 of their last 11 games. Green Bay isn’t coming in to shabby either, winning their last 6 games.
It’s sounding a little too close to call, right?
Yes, Green Bay have had a stellar run coming in to this match and have looked unbeatable, unfortunately for them though, their players were breaking like plates at a Greek wedding last round.
The Packers were just keeping it together with some duct tape and super glue coming in to last week, that all fell apart after the final whistle though. Rollins, Randall and Dorleant all went down and are in major doubt to play against the in-form Giants.
It’s certainly going to be a lot to ask for the beaten up Packers.
The only way they’ll have a fighting chance is if Rogers keeps up his exceptional form. To start he hasn’t thrown an interception in 7 straight games. He’s averaged 8.37 yards per attempt (4th in the league), completing 69.7 precent of his passes (5th in the league), his passer rating went from 15th early in the season to 2nd, and his QBR went from 5th to 2nd behind Matt Ryan
Finishing up, it’s my duty to remind you of a little statistic about last years first round. ALL 4-road teams won in the first round… Yep, every single lower seed came out victorious. If you’re a betting man, I’d be putting money on the underdog.
By: Rhett Simons