Previewing and Predicting Winners for NFL Wildcard Weekend
The NFL regular season has come to a conclusion and now it’s time for fans to start looking forward to the upcoming playoffs and wildcard matchups. Today, we’ll be going through each of the wildcard games, looking at all of the latest statistics to try and make accurate predictions about which team will win. Let’s get started with a look at the Kansas City Chiefs/Houston Texans matchup.
Kansas City at Houston
The Texans brought glory to their fans by clinching the divisional title in the AFC South. The team just about finished ahead of the Indianapolis Colts to claim a third title in five years. The Texans ended the season with a very impressive 5-1 record in their division and really asserted their dominance over the other AFC South sides throughout the regular season. The squad has undergone several changes since Week 1, with no less than five signal callers being involved in games. Brian Hoyer ended the season as the team’s first pick and he has performed well when called upon.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs’ season has been a mixed one. The team started off with a pretty terrible run that gave them a record of 1-5 for the first six games of the season. Something pretty special must have happened behind the scenes because the team then went on an incredible 10-win streak. Unfortunately, Kansas City’s final record of 11-5 wasn’t enough to claim the divisional title. In the quarterback department, Alex Smith has helped guide Kansas City to many victories.
Both teams have some exciting players. The Chiefs can boast of guys like Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware who have been putting up some big numbers, while the Texans have relied on the likes of DeAndre Hopkins and Jonathan Grimes. When all is said and done, our prediction is for a narrow Kansas City victory. Throughout the season, the Chiefs have been the stronger team and will be frustrated at missing out on the AFC West title. They should use that frustration to push themselves to a win.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati
It was touch and go for a while, but the Steelers just about managed to clinch a spot in the playoffs. Pittsburgh has impressed fans and critics alike this season with a very powerful offense. With Ben Roethlisberger continuing to prove himself as one of the most effective QBs in the NFL, the Steelers will be hoping to get plenty of points on the board. Steelers’ fans will also be hoping that their star man Antonio Brown can take control of this game and help the team to victory.
Now let’s talk about the Bengals. This team began the season in sensational fashion with an incredible 8-win streak. At the time, Cincinnati looked unstoppable and optimistic fans expected the team to earn the No. 1 seed for the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Bengals went 4-4 in their last 8 games and didn’t look quite as powerful as before. The team also had some bad luck as QB Andy Dalton picked up a thumb injury. Dalton might be in line to play in the wildcard game, but fans shouldn’t get too hopeful; the star signal caller hasn’t got a great record in big games and is 3-7 in his last 10 games against Pittsburgh.
These two teams know each other well as divisional rivals, and players on both sides will be desperate to get the win. The Bengals are a team that started the season well and trailed away towards the end, while the Steelers had a mixed start and went on a great run in the final few weeks. This is why we’re expecting Pittsburgh to win this game. It should be close, but the Steelers are in good form and have lots of momentum.
Seattle at Minnesota
The Seahawks started the season pretty poorly. After 9 games they had a 4-5 record and already had almost no chance of retaining their NFC crown. Still, the players decided to fight back and went on a great run to finish with a 10-6 record and a spot in this wildcard clash. Star running back Marshawn Lynch is set to return from injury and could be a big player in this game. The Vikings are on a high after winning the NFC North for the first time since 2009. Minnesota has had a very strong running game all season long, with Adrian Peterson the main man, and the team will be looking to use that aspect to full effect against Seattle.
These two teams are quite evenly-matched but our prediction has to lean towards the Seahawks. After the early season blip, Seattle has looked almost unstoppable and the return of Lynch is a big bonus for the Seahawks too.
Green Bay at Washington
The Packers, like the Bengals, are a team that started the season brilliantly and lost some momentum in the final weeks. Green Bay started off with a 6-win run but only managed four more victories in the ten games that followed. Even Aaron Rodgers has been losing his touch lately, failing to throw for 300+ yards for several weeks now. The Packers are clearly out of form but they do have good players and plenty of experience being in playoff situations.
The Redskins are a different story. Even Washington fans wouldn’t have expected to see their team hosting a wildcard game before the season began, but some players, Kirk Cousins in particular, have really stepped up for this squad. Cousins has been a rock for Washington and played a big role in the team’s NFC East divisional title win. That said, the Redskins have struggled in the big games this season and failed to beat any of the best teams in the NFL.
This will be Cousins first playoff appearance. He’s been performing excellently, but that might not be enough to help his team to a win here. We’re predicting a victory for the Packers in this one. The quality of their squad cannot be underestimated.