The 2013 NFL Playoffs have finally arrived, and they are all set to begin with the wildcard matchups this weekend. While the league’s top 4 teams earned bye weeks and get to rest their weary legs, these underdog football teams will be put to the test right away, with their entire seasons hanging in the balance. While these supposed “lesser” NFL squads have a long and hard road to the Super Bowl, such teams often do win the big dance, so none of them should be counted out. But who will get past that initial first hump and into the divisional round? Here is a preview for the NFL wildcard games this weekend:
Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts – The Chiefs will probably lose this game. Not only did they lose to the Colts 23-7 just two weeks ago, but they have now lost 5 of their last 7 games, a rather grounding experience following their 9-0 start to the season. The only playoff team that the Chiefs have beaten is the Philadelphia Eagles. Meanwhile, the Colts have topped the 49ers, Seahawks, and Broncos, making them one of the most dangerous teams around. Is Andrew Luck ready to lead a playoff run? I think so: Colts win 23-7.
New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles rebounded from a bad start and now feature one of the NFL’s most dynamic offenses. With the emergence of quarterback Nick Foles, the team thrives around the explosiveness of DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy. However, the Saints also feature a high-scoring offense led by Drew Brees. They have quite a strong defense and could have potentially earned a bye if not for the surprising year by the Carolina Panthers. Although the weather will be cold, I foresee a shootout with the Saints winning through a defensive stand late in the game: Saints win 41-35.
San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals – This is a total offense vs. defense matchup. Philip Rivers leads a delightful passing attack by the Chargers, while the Bengals defense is amongst the best in the league. These are two solid teams that could both do well in the playoffs, but I think the miraculous Chargers dream ends this week, as Andy Dalton and AJ Green should be able to muster enough points while the Chargers get slowed down by that defense. Nevertheless, the game should be close, possibly featuring a poetically just missed field goal by the Chargers at the end of regulation: Bengals win 20-17.
San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers – The 49ers have the key ingredients for success in the playoffs: a strong defense and a powerful rushing attack spearheaded by Frank Gore. They amassed a 12-4 record but are forced to go on the road as a wildcard team due to the great year by the Seattle Seahawks. The Packers suffered to an 8-7-1 record with quarterback Aaron Rodgers missing nearly half the year. However, he returned last week and won in miraculous fashion over the Chicago Bears, converting a dramatic last-minute 4th and 8 for a touchdown. They also have a strong running game led by rookie Eddie Lacy. However, their defense is very questionable. But with temperatures set to be in the single digits at Lambeau Field, this game will be a major test for both sets of players. While Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers have dominated the Packers in recent games, Green Bay looks invigorated with Rodgers back at the helm, and I see them as a team of destiny: Packers win 28-24.
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