The Kansas City Chiefs had their ups and downs during the season, winning their first five games, losing six of seven and finishing with four straight wins to finish 10-6. The Tennessee Titans got in the playoffs with a win over the Jaguars in the final game of the season, this after three straight losses cost them a shot at winning the AFC South. Marcus Mariota is making his playoff debut for the Titans, he should have many more games in the future. This one will be one of the toughest as they play in one of the hardest road stadiums in Kansas City. Expect Arrowhead to be a sea of red as the Chiefs will take control of the game early. The Chiefs have been getting big games from their super rookie Kareem Hunt down the stretch, as he won the NFL rushing title. Look for the Chiefs defense to create problems for Mariota, who will be on his heels all game. The Titans defense may be able to keep it close for a while, but the Chiefs will have not problem getting the win.
After their heartbreaking Super Bowl LI collapse, the Atlanta Falcons went 10-6, needing a win in their final game to grab the sixth seed in the NFC playoffs. The Los Angeles Rams won the NFC West with an 11-5 record, it is the Rams first playoff appearance since 2004. This will be the Rams first home playoff game in Los Angeles in 32 years after they returned last season after 21 years in St. Louis. The Rams were one of the best offenses in the NFL led by Todd Gurley II, who had 2,093 yards from scrimmage with a league best 19 touchdowns, all while sitting out the final game of the regular season. The Falcons had their ups and downs, and at times sputtered when facing strong defenses like the Rams. However, experience is where Atlanta has the big advantage. Last year they had the Patriots dead and nearly buried before their collapse, I think that memory will motivate them as the Rams do not have a good homefield, as the Los Angeles has yet to fully embrace their return. This game sets up perfectly for an upset.
The Buffalo Bills needed a handful of miracles to end their long playoff drought. However, overlooked is the Jacksonville Jaguars, who themselves are playing their first playoff game in a decade. The Jaguars are also playing their first home playoff game since the 1999 AFC Championship Game. The Jaguars posses one of the NFL’s best defense, and have become a strong home team, winning their last five games at EverBank Field. The big worry for Jacksonville still centers around quarterback Blake Bortles, who is mediocre at best. While he has played well at home late in the season, he is still prone for the big interception. The Bills defense is solid in their own right and Tyrod Taylor is able to make noise with his legs, but he is not good enough to carry Buffalo. However, the Bills big worry must center around LeSean McCoy who injured his ankle in their win last week. If McCoy is unable to have a big impact the Jaguars will win this game. Look for the Jaguars pass rush to have Taylor running for his life as they turn Jacksonville into Sackonville for the win.
The Carolina Panthers are hoping third time is the charm as they take on the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card round at the Superdome. Both teams finished 11-5, but the Saints get to host the game and won the NFC South by winning both regular season meetings. The Saints began an eight-game winning streak with 34-13 win in Carolina in Week 3, and won the second meeting at the Superdome 31-21 in Week 13. The Panthers defense had no answer for the Saints balanced attack in their two games, as they topped 30 points in both games. The Panthers have had their ups and downs as Cam Newton has been the key to winning. When Newton is on, Carolina usually excels, but when he if off the Panthers tend to struggle. The Saints only home loss this year was against the Patriots in Week 2. The game will be close, and may be the best matchup of the weekend. I expect a good game from Cam Newton, but Drew Brees will make the big play in the end to get the Saints a win.