And then there were 8. We are now down to the elite eight of the NFL and this week is the week where we decide who plays for the big marble in their conference. This is our weeks Sports To Watch on the 2016 NFL Divisional Playoffs.
1. The Kansas City Chiefs look to close old wounds against the New England Patriots
Time: Saturday, January 16, at 4:30p.m.
This game is going to be a good one for a multitude of reasons. First, It puts the defending champions in a position of weakness coming into this game. New England comes in with the weakest offensive line of the teams left in the playoffs and everyone can see it. On top of that, Tom Brady is coming off 2 weeks rest after getting his ankle rolled on by Ndamukong Suh during the Patriots finale against the Miami Dolphins. You then have to take into account that both sides have their major weapons possibly out of the game in Jeremy Maclin and Rob Gronkowski. This game could do big things as to who goes to the Super Bowl and if the AFC has a powerhouse representing them in San Francisco.
Prediction: Kansas City in a close game. I don’t trust New England like I use to. They are playing against the hottest team in the AFC and no one wants to admit it because its the Chiefs and everyone is waiting for the ceiling to send them crashing. I don’t think they have one. That defense is legit and is, strictly speaking, one of the most terrifying front seven’s I’ve ever seen. I think they hit Brady multiple times, but Brady finds a way to keep it close. But Kansas City leaves Foxborough with a win and a ticket to the conference final.
2. Green Bay looks to avenge its late-season loss against the Cardinals in the Big Toaster.
Time: Saturday, January 16 at 8:15p.m.
This game is going to be brutal. Green Bay comes into this game after being counted out against Washington last week. This week, they look to gain a bit of revenge against Arizona as they pummeled them three weeks ago. Arizona comes into this game one of the hottest teams in the league, with a quarterback that could easily be in the running for the MVP. Aaron Rodgers needs to find a way to get this offense running as he can’t rely solely on his receiving corps to save him from losing another playoff game. Arizona’s defense, however, looks to leave Rodgers in the dirt yet again and prove they are one of the two best teams in the NFC.
Prediction: Arizona wins by two touchdowns. Traditionally I’d give Green Bay a chance because of Aaron Rodgers but in this game, I give them none. Arizona is just better on all three fronts and there is nothing that Green Bay can do to beat them. Carson Palmer will light up the overrated Green Bay defense and send a message to the other NFC semifinal that the Cards are coming and are all in for a championship.
3. Pittsburgh fights to stay alive in the Mile High City against the Broncos
Time: Sunday, January 17 at 4:40p.m.
Oh boy. I don’t like this game. Not because its Peyton vs Big Ben or its the Steelers vs the Broncos. But because I predicted that Pittsburgh would be able to easily coast through the playoffs and win against a overrated Denver and then take on New England. But after the absolute war that the Black and Yellow brigade went through last week, I’m terrified for them. Big Ben is hurt badly, and on top of that they don’t have their leading rusher in Deangelo Williams or leading pass-catcher in Antonio Brown. This game should be Denver’s to lose, especially seeing how Peyton is now back as the starter for the Broncos.
Prediction: Pittsburgh. Yeah I know I painted it as Denver should win this game, but I got Pittsburgh. I don’t know how, I don’t know what the sacrifice will be, but I don’t trust Denver against Pittsburgh. Peyton Manning, in his last game against the then San Diego Chargers( depending on what happens in a certain L.A. deal) took one hell of a shot from the Chargers defense. If Denver wants to get through this game and win it, they are going to have to keep Peyton solid clean in order for them to win. But Pittsburgh has something about them that just says they will pull away with a win.
4. Seattle looks to mimic the Bee Gees and Stay Alive against the red-hot Carolina Panthers
Time: Sunday, January 17 at 1p.m.
Three times in two games. This game will mark the third time that the Carolina Panthers go up against the defending champs of the NFC in Seattle Seahawks. But lets address the elephant in the room, or rather the missing viking in the room. Minnesota let the Seahawks get to the second round and everyone knows it. Seattle is a great time, no lie, but they shouldn’t have been in position to win that game, in fact they weren’t. Seattle needs to play a lot better and everyone knows it because this week they aren’t playing a “glad to be there” Minnesota.
They are playing the Carolina Panthers. A team with the best quarterback in the league. An offense that despite multiple injuries to key positions, blew teams out of the water. A defense that is more stingy than a kid with a pound of candy and won’t give up a piece. Carolina feels as though while they beat Seattle earlier in the season, they need to put the Legion of Boom and the 12 away in order to gain the first step to winning a championship.
Prediction: Carolina by a field goal. This isn’t Seattle, and the 12th man isn’t going to save Seattle. I like Seattle, and I wouldn’t even be surprised if Russell Wilson puts a gang of lucky rabbits out of his hat and wins them the game. But if Im being honest, Carolina should win this game. They are the better team, and if Carolina plays the same way they did all season, they won’t be beaten this week, or any other.
So that is my predictions about the games to watch this weekend in the NFL Semifinals. Come back next week where we will be back to our regular schedule and talk about all sports going on during the week.