Previewing wild card weekend in the NFL


photoshop by Andrew Schenkel

The NFL Playoffs are set and ready to go.

After several months of watching teams grind each week fighting for a spot in the 2017 NFL Playoffs, the field is set and finally ready to go. To the surprise of most NFL fans, the two teams that met in Super Bowl 50 last year, did not do enough this year to make the playoffs and will not be able to repeat. In this article, I’ll give a short preview of each match-up of Wild Card weekend and predict who I think will be meet up to play for Super Bowl LI on February 5th.


(3) Seattle Seahawks vs. (6) Detroit Lions (Saturday 1/7 @ 8:15 on NBC)

The Detroit Lions may be one of the most confusing teams in the NFL Playoffs this year. After starting off the season losing three of their first four games, including a beat down from the Chicago Bears, the Lions then rattled of eight wins out of their next nine. Although the winning streak may seem like a huge deal on the surface, only one team that the Lions beat had a winning record, the 8-7-1 Washington Redskins.

photo from Rod Mar
Richard Sherman has led the Seattle defense to another outstanding year.

To finish the season, the Lions dropped three straight games to eventual playoff teams – the Giants, Cowboys, and Packers. Unfortunately, things won’t be getting easier for Detroit as they get to travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks in the first game of the playoffs.

For Seattle, their defense has once against shined throughout the season and should continue to dominate this weekend against the Lions. Although the Seahawks haven’t had a consistent player at the running back position or in the running game at all, that hasn’t slowed down the rest of their offense. The Seahawks are always tough to beat in the playoffs and it shouldn’t be any different this time around.

My pick: Seattle Seahawks

(4) Green Bay Packers vs. (5) New York Giants (Sunday 1/8 @ 4:40 on FOX)

The second match-up on the NFC side features two of the leagues hottest teams entering the playoffs – the Giants and Packers.

This season, the Giants defense, who have been towards the bottom of the league in recent years, has stepped up and become one of the tougher defenses and one that other teams now fear. On the offensive side, the running game has been nonexistent and the Giants have had to rely heavily on Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr., but it’s been working.

Getty Images
Aaron Rodgers has stepped up and put the Green Bay Packers on his pack while entering the playoffs.

After starting the season 4-6 and losing four straight games, Aaron Rodgers decided to go out on a limb and publicly state that his Packers would run the table and finish with a record of 10-6. Fast forward six weeks and Green Bay is sitting at 10-6 along with an NFC North title and are definitely a team that others don’t want to see in the playoffs.

The Packers defense showed massive struggles in the secondary to begin the season but have gotten healthy and improved a lot at the right time and are looking like a very solid defense. With Aaron Rodgers running the offense even without a true running back, the Packers are looking unstoppable and I don’t think the Giants will be enough to stop this six game win streak.

My pick: Green Bay Packers


(3) Pittsburgh Steelers vs. (6) Miami Dolphins (Sunday 1/8 @ 1:05 on CBS)

Although the Steelers have looked a little shaky throughout the season, they enter the playoffs on a roll winning their last seven games and winning the last four by one possession or less. With the three headed monster of Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown carrying the offense, they’ll be needed to pull out close games as they attempt to win their franchise’s seventh Super Bowl title.

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The Steelers will rely a lot upon the connection between Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger.

These teams met earlier in the regular season in Week 6 in Miami where the Dolphins came away with the dominating 30-15 win. In this game, Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi made his name while breaking out a monster rushing performance of 204 yards and two touchdowns.

The Dolphins will need Ajayi to have another huge performance with the unliklihood of quarterback Ryan Tannehill being able to play with an ACL and MCL sprain. However, in his absence, back-up Matt Moore hasn’t been too bad replacing Tannehill in his three starts. He has passed for 674 yards, eight touchdowns, and just three interceptions. I still don’t think that will be enough to pull out a Dolphins win.

My pick: Pittsburgh Steelers

(4) Houston Texans vs. (5) Oakland Raiders (Saturday 1/7 @ 4:35 on ESPN)

After meeting up for an exciting Monday Night Football game in Mexico City ending in a 27-20 Raiders win, the rematch between these two playoffs teams will come with terrible quarterback situations.

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The Raiders Khalil Mack has become a dominate pass rusher this season.

The Texans signed former Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler to a four year, $72 million contract in the offseason. But coach Bill O’Brien decided to bench Osweiler in the middle of a 21-20 win against the Jacksonville Jagurs in week 15. After backup Tom Savage started the final two games of the season, he was put into concussion protocol and ruled out for the first round playoff match-up against the Raiders. With the rough quarterback situation, a lot of pressure will be put on Texans running back Lamar Miller who did have a lot of success in the early meeting with the Raiders, rushing for 104 yards and a touchdown.

The Oakland Raiders looked  like one of the best teams in the NFL throughout most of the season. However, things changed in their week 16 game against the Indianapolis Colts when Derek Carr broke his leg and has been ruled out for rest of the season. With back-up quarterback Matt McGloin attempting to get extra reps against the divisional rival Broncos, he was unable to finish the game after injurying his shoulder and handed his duties off to rookie Connor Cook.

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio has already announced that Cook will start the first round playoff game and is doing everything to prepare for a stout Texans defense. I believe that Khalil Mack and the Raiders defense, who have been dominate throughout the season, should be able to carry the Raiders through this game.

My pick: Oakland Raiders

After predicting each of the opening round playoff games, here’s what I believe the bracket will look like heading into the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs.

With these results there should be some very interesting games and story lines that will continue throughout the playoffs. Even though both conference have their respected dominant teams, I believe that both spots in Super Bowl LI are completely up in the air. The 2017 NFL Playoffs will be one to keep an eye on and I think everyone is excited to see how they play out.