The 2014 NFL playoffs will be getting under way this weekend. The regular season was filled with great moments and spectacular plays. Now it’s time for the best 12 teams in the league to play for the chance to go to and win the Super Bowl. The playoffs start with wild card weekend and the weekend has some very interesting matchups. How will they play out and who will advance? Let’s break down the games, shall we?
5 Kansas City Chiefs @ 4 Indianapolis Colts
The first matchup on the playoff docket is one where two 11-5 teams will square off. The Kansas City Chiefs started the season off 9-0 before losing in week 11 to the Denver Broncos. The Colts are back in the playoffs for the second consecutive year behind second-year quarterback Andrew Luck. When the two teams hooked up in the regular season, the Colts took the game 23-7. Will the rematch see the same results? Keep in mind that the Chiefs haven’t won a playoff game in 20 years.
Prediction: Chiefs 27 Colts 21
Andy Reid and the Chiefs will make the proper adjustments this time around. They will be able to get to Luck quite frequently.
X-Factor: Jamaal Charles
Jamaal Charles is such a dynamic player who can change the game both as a rusher and a receiver. The screen passes to Charles will set the Chiefs up for another playoff game.
6 New Orleans Saints @ 3 Philadelphia Eagles
This matchup is the most intriguing to me. The Saints, who rebounded after a year without Head Coach Sean Payton, are now the underdogs. Crazy, right? The Eagles also bounced back from a not so stellar season a year ago. Chip Kelly came in and has changed this team, especially with the emergence of quarterback Nick Foles. The Saints, despite having the better record, will go to Philadelphia where the weather conditions could be the real x-factor of this game. Can the Saints finally win a road playoff game? Can the Eagles knock out one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history?
Prediction: Saints 34 Eagles 24
I think that all the talk of the Saints going on the road and playing in inclement weather is all being blown out of proportion. The weather is all a mental thing, especially in the playoffs.
X-Factor: Jimmy Graham
The tight end will cause matchup nightmares for the Philadelphia secondary. Jason Whitten of the Dallas Cowboys has quite the game last week against the Eagles and he isn’t nearly as athletic as Graham. Brees to Graham will be a consistent hook up.
6 San Diego Chargers @ 3 Cincinnati Bengals
The Chargers got into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season as the team beat the Chiefs and benefitted from the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens both losing. The Bengals finally got over the divisional hump by winning the AFC North. When these two teams met in the regular season, the Bengals went to San Diego and came away with a 17-10 victory. Will this matchup see the same results?
Prediction: Chargers 24 Bengals 21
This will be a shock to most people as the Bengals went 8-0 at home this year. However, I don’t trust Andy Dalton at all. His defense will keep him in the game, but ultimately I think Philip Rivers and company will travel to Cincy and defeat the Bengals in upset fashion.
X-Factor: Philip Rivers
Rivers was touted as one of the top quarterbacks of his draft class and was considered one of the best in the league at one point. He has since fallen off that radar just a little, but I think he will make a statement and lead the Bolts to a playoff victory.
5 San Francisco 49ers @ 4 Green Bay Packers
The 49ers finished 12-4, which would usually land them the division and a first round bye. That was not the case this season as the Seattle Seahawks went 13-3 claiming the division and the number one overall seed in the NFC. Green Bay somehow stuck it out and made the playoffs, despite not having quarterback Aaron Rodgers for a good portion of the season. The Packers finished 8-7-1 to win the NFC North. The 49ers beat the Packers in Green Bay once already this season, a 34-28 outcome. This matchup is a rematch from last year’s playoffs, where the Niners won 45-31. Will the same result happen?
Prediction: Packers 31 49ers 28
This is another upset pick for me. I feel the Packers got their most essential player back in Aaron Rodgers at the perfect time. The frigid weather at Lambeau Field could be a big factor in this game. I see this being somewhat of a shootout, with the Packers getting a late field goal to advance to the next round.
X-Factor: Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers is quite possibly the most important player to his team in all of the National Football League. Don’t believe me? Go look at the Packers without him this season. He threw for 318 yards and two touchdowns in the winner-take-all game for the division against the Bears last week in his return. With Rodgers, the landscape of the NFC is changed.