With lots of flags, botched field goals, and hair pulling, the NFL playoffs have just begun. As the games intensify after a truly wild wildcard weekend, I am going to predict the divisional round of the 2015-16 playoffs.
Carolina Panthers vs. Seattle Seahawks
These two foes faced off earlier in the season, when the Panthers won in a thriller in Seattle. Now, it’s the Seahawks’ chance to take revenge, as Kam Chancellor looks to knock off Cam Newton in a heated matchup. The Panthers have been extraordinary this season, and it would be a total shock if they were to lose this game. The Seahawks offense did not show up last week, and even though Marshawn Lynch didn’t play, Russell Wilson has cooled down since his hot streak late in the season. Newton is hungrier than ever to prove he’s “elite” and worthy of the MVP award, and looks to cement himself as an “elite” in association with his name. The Panthers will prevail, but it will be no cakewalk, as we await another Bengals vs. Steelers like atmosphere.
Panthers win 23-16
Arizona Cardinals vs. Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers flicked his switch to ON as he resurrected himself last week vs. the dying Redskins. Now, he looks to continue this momentum against one of the leagues’ best defenses in Arizona. If Eddy Lacy plays the way he did last week, Arizona will have a hard time winning in the desert. However, Carson Palmer looks to prove to everyone that he is the best QB in the NFL and worthy of the MVP trophy, as Fitzgerald looks to grab his first ring. The emergence of RB David Johnson has sparked the Cardinals this season, and this will put them over the edge vs. the cheese heads. This will be a grinder, but I believe the Cardinals offensive weapons will out-do Rodgers and the crew.
Cardinals win 31-26
Denver Broncos vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
After an insane game vs. the division rival Bengals, the Steelers look to continue their winning, but now vs. a starting QB (or so we think). If Peyton Manning plays like half the man he was two seasons ago, the Broncos will send the Steelers home. Demaryus Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders will take advantage of the Steelers’ anemic secondary, as Ronnie Hillman looks to get the running game ignited for Denver. To begin with, the Steelers are at a major disadvantage to be without DeAngelo Williams, but now reports say that Antonio Brown has been ruled out also, making matters worse. To the Broncos’ relief, Ben Roethlisberger is also listed as questionable, after sustaining multiple injuries vs. the Bengals (Vontaze Burfict) last week. The Broncos elite defense will not give up big points to an offense filled with backups, and that is why they will easily come away with this game.
Broncos win 24-13
New England Patriots vs. Kansas City Chiefs
This game will be the closest of the weekend, as Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Chandler Jones and many other big names for New England are listed as questionable. Rob Gronkowski’s health is the most important part of this equation, and is the difference maker in whether the Patriots will win or lose. If they have Gronk, Tom Brady will find a way to drive down the field against Justin Houston and this scorching defense. If Gronk’s availability is limited, the Chiefs will prevail in this matchup. I will assume that Gronk will play, but that his health will not allow him to be at full strength, which is why I am betting on Kansas City. In football, it’s not how good you are, but about how hot you can get. Alex Smith and the Chiefs have reached a hot point that even Brady may not be able to overcome. The Giants were not better in the Super Bowl victories against New England, just hotter. And in this case, the Chiefs are on a roll.
Chiefs win 27-26
About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, an 11th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball, football and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees, Oregon football and North Carolina basketball teams. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).