The AFC playoff field is down to four as the Houston Texans and Pittsburgh Steelers were both victorious in Wild Card weekend to advance to New England and Kansas City respectively. Both matchups will be rematches from earlier in the season, but with different storylines. Two teams will advance to next weekend’s AFC Championship game, while the other two will get prepared for the offseason a bit earlier.
Houston @ New England
Tom Brady is on a mission to get the last laugh on the NFL for the whole Deflategate incident. Unfortunately for the Texans, that is bad news. These two teams met in Week 3 of the regular season and Houston was run out of the building 27-0, with the Patriots starting third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Now, Brady is back under center and is determined to get another Super Bowl ring.
Houston is 1-6 all-time against New England and have scored six total points in their last two meetings. The Patriots are 15-3 at home under Brady and Bill Belichick. For the season, New England averaged 27 points per game and Houston scored a season-high 27 points last week against the Derek Carr-less Raiders. This has the makings to be another blowout and a stroll back to the AFC Championship game for the Patriots.
Pittsburgh @ Kansas City
The Kansas City defense will have a tall task at hand Sunday afternoon trying to stop Pittsburgh’s Killer B’s of Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Do you focus in on Bell or Brown? Pick your poison. Luckily for the Chiefs, Andy Reid is their head coach and he is 16-2 with an extra week to game plan for an opponent and take away their strengths. However, that is easier said than done when it comes to stopping the high-octane offense of the Steelers.
In Week 4, Pittsburgh trounced Kansas City at Heinz Field, 43-14 and raced out to a 22-0 lead in the first quarter. The Chiefs must avoid falling behind early if they want to advance one step closer to the Super Bowl. This time around, Kansas City will have Justin Houston to try and help contain Bell in the backfield. For Pittsburgh, winners of eight straight, they will have to continue to play solid defense, as the Chiefs have a balanced attack that can make some noise. Travis Kelcie has to be involved early and often as he was held to just five catches for 25 yards in the Week 4 meeting. Tyreek Hill will be the x-factor of this game as he has shown he can be a game-changer on offense and special teams with his breakaway speed.
Arrowhead Stadium will be loud and rambunctious and that provides for a perfect playoff atmosphere. The Steelers have arguably the most powerful offense in the NFL while the Chiefs have one of the better defenses. If the Killer B’s can somehow be contained, Kansas City will have a great chance of winning the game. However, if Big Ben, Bell and Brown can continue to make big play after big play, Pittsburgh could blow the game open yet again.