The Wild Card Round was one of the best weekends of football all year. There were no blowouts, a ridiculous comeback, a couple of game winning kicks, and the playoff infamy of Andy Dalton grows. Here’s what to look for next week.
Game 1: New Orleans Saints(6) at Seattle Seahawks(1)
The first time these two teams met in Seattle, it was a disaster for New Orleans, and pretty much a perfect game for Seattle. Seattle has lost at home for the first time in Russell Wilson’s career since that game, but they followed that up with a blowout of the Rams. New Orleans was able to bully their way through Philadelphia’s weak defense on a game winning drive last week, but don’t expect Seattle’s tough front seven to bend so easily. Wilson was not sharp in the home loss they had, but that was against Arizona’s stifling defense, a far tougher defense than the Saints. This game will be closer than last time, but Seattle is too strong at home to lose to the Saints after a bye week. 31-21 Seattle.
Game 2: San Francisco 49ers(5) at Carolina Panthers(2)
These teams met in a heavily contested defensive battle in Week 10, and Carolina ended up winning a nail biter 10-9. This game took place when Colin Kaepernick was struggling mightily, and he managed to throw for just 92 yards in a horrific game for him. As it turns out, that was rock bottom for Kaepernick, and his play since then has been much improved. The 49ers were a dropped pass from winning that game, and that game was played without Michael Crabtree. Aldon Smith was also limited in that game, as it was his first game back from a 5 game absence. This game, unlike the Week 10 match up, will be played on Carolina’s home turf, and the Panthers have three premier playmakers: Quarterback Cam Newton, Linebacker Luke Kuechly, and Defense Lineman Star Lotulelei. The only sure thing about this game is that it will be close. With Michael Crabtree getting healthier every week, and revenge on their minds, the Niners steal one in Charlotte, 17-14.
Game 1: Indianapolis Colts(4) at New England Patriots(2)
Andrew Luck’s comeback last week against the Chiefs was the stuff of legends, and perhaps the birth of a superstar quarterback. Luck was one of the most hyped ever quarterbacks going into the draft, and he’s done nothing short of living up to expectations. New England has been devastated by injuries this season, leaving them short handed. The Colts, too have suffered major injury losses but have recuperated well. New England has the home field advantage in this one, and that can’t be overlooked, just ask Peyton Manning how tough it is to play in Foxboro in January. The Patriots will be in every game they play as long as Tom Brady is suiting up, but the defense has suffered too many major injuries to contain perhaps the league’s best young quarterback. For the Colts, they are building off the momemtum of one of the greatest postseason comebacks ever. The bye week and the seeding favors the Patriots, but the injuries have taken too large a toll on this Patriots team. 35-28 Indianapolis.
Game 2: San Diego Chargers(6) at Denver Broncos(1)
This is an interesting one. The Chargers needed a whole lot of luck to get into the playoffs, but they trounced the Bengals round one and defeated the Broncos in Denver in Week 15. The key to victory for San Diego is keeping Peyton Manning on the sidelines to prevent the prolific Broncos offense from lighting up the scoreboard like usual. Long drives with clutch 3rd down conversions for the Chargers will eat up clock and make things tough on Manning and the Broncos offense. The game in Week 15 was played without Wes Welker, who figures to be a major factor in this game. If the Chargers win here, they have a great oppurtunity to make the Super Bowl, because the Broncos are most definitley the best team in the AFC. Still, stopping Manning and that Broncos passing attack figures to be a tough task for the San Diego secondary. This will be a much more tightly contested game than predicted. The Broncos’ offensive firepower nets them a 34-31 overtime victory.
The Panthers were the suprise team of the year, but can they win a playoff game? Credit for the image goes to: http://www.telephonewallpaper.com/artwork/steve-smith–89_original.jpg
Andrew Luck engineered one of the greatest playoff comebacks of all time. Can he top the original Captain Comeback, Tom Brady? Credit for the image goes to: http://media.kansas.com/smedia/2014/01/04/21/25/810-V2jyV.SlMa.81.jpeg
Which AFC West quarterback will prevail in the first postseason meeting of these two teams? Credit for the image goes to: http://cdn.fansided.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/13/files/2013/04/6924962.jpg