It’s funny that I thought the Wild Card predictions would be easy. In the end I got 3/4 calls correct, but it should have been 1/4, given the Vikings and Bengals both gifted their respective games away. And now we face the divisional round predictions, which look much more difficult.
Chiefs 30 | Patriots 27
The first of many tough calls. Normally I would pick the Patriots here, but something about their late-season struggles countered against the Chiefs’ 11-game win streak edges me towards KC. But with Julian Edelman back, and Jermey Maclin out, the injury scale weighs slightly in favor of the Patriots on offense. It’s the D where I think KC pulls this one out.
Steelers 18 | Broncos 24
Another great matchup and difficult to call. I am picking the Broncos only because of injuries to Roethlisburger, Antonio Brown, and DeAngelo Williams. I suspect at least 2/3 will miss the game and all will be injured to some extent. Also, D “wins championships”, and the Broncos are full of it.
Seahawks 23 | Panthers 20 (OT)
This is the toughest call of them all. These two teams are the top of the class in the NFC. Honestly, Seattle’s got to be the luckiest team in the world, but Carolina has the MVP candidate and home-field advantage. Both have dynamic, play-making QB’s and strong on both sides of the ball. Could be the best game of the week. I’m tentatively giving the Seahawks a dramatic win in OT but I could honestly see this go either way.
Packers 20 | Cardinals 30
I mean, there’s no doubt that the Packers will do better than the last meetup of these two teams in Week 16 when the Cardinals won 38-8. But the Cardinals are a complete team, and the Packers are missing an identity on offense. So barring some crazy plays, the Cardinals should pull the victory out here.