NFL Wild Card Playoffs Preview: Chiefs vs. Texans and Steelers vs. Bengals

The NFL Playoffs are here!

And we fangirls really, really like sports too. Which is why we’re excited that we get to talk about this. Talk, and discuss, and even offer our opinions. Because, yes, we watch the games. We know our stuff. We a lot of opinions.

Today, we’ll focus on the AFC, because in the grand tradition of dividing the games by conferences, Saturday is all AFC, while Sunday is all NFC. And while the NFC has a few teams looking strong down the stretch, the AFC? Well, that’s another matter altogether. If nothing else, this should be a fun Wild Card Weekend. So, are you ready?

We are.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Houston Texans

Saturday, 4:35pm, ESPN

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Talk about two teams that found their footing late in the season.  Kansas City hasn’t lost a game since starting 1-5. Houston was 7-2 in it’s last nine games. They both lost their running backs. Their coaches both deserve a standing ovation. So, which way do you go when two teams as similar as these two play each other? Well, that’s where this gets complicated. Kansas City, after all, loves to rush the passer. Houston has one of the best offensive lines in the game. Kansas City has an outstanding defense, but then again, Houston has held five of their last nine opponents to six points. What does this all even mean? Well, expect a low-scoring affair, for one. And, also, this is harder to predict that you might think.

Why Kansas City Will Win

Because the one thing you really, really want, is to ride a hot hand into the playoffs. Well, that, and a quarterback who doesn’t make the stupid mistakes to cost you the game. And Kansas City not only has both, but it’s got the right attitude – the us against the world mentality that can sometimes carry you through the playoffs. Especially when you have to play on the road. And if two good defenses cancel each other out, then who would you rather have on your side: Alex Smith or Brian Hoyer?

Why Houston Will Win

JJ. Watt is, without a doubt, the best defensive player in the NFL. They’re also at home, though, for some reason, that doesn’t feel like as much as an advantage as it is for other teams. Houston, however, doesn’t have to be perfect to win this game – it just has to take advantage of it’s third ranked passing defense, rattle Alex Smith and control the clock. Then, it’s just about letting Kansas City recent playoff history and their own insecurities play against them.Yes, Kansas City has won 10 games in a row, but they haven’t played a good opponent in a month and a half, and haven’t won a playoff road game in 22 years.

Alyssa’s Pick: Chiefs 21, Texans 17

The Texans have a solid defense, but the Chiefs don’t turn the ball over. Kansas City definitely has the better quarterback in Alex Smith, which gives the Chiefs the edge in this match-up.

Lizzie’s Pick: Texans 17, Chiefs 14

I’ve seen too much of Kansas City to buy into the hype. Alex Smith is capable, but he can be pressured into turning the ball over, and stopping JJ Watt for good is just a pipe dream. This is the type of game that will probably come down to one play, and this time, it’ll be Houston on top.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Saturday, 8:15 pm, CBS

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The Steelers have a lot of people to thank for this playoff berth, starting with the Buffalo Bills, for beating the New York Jets. However, one thing can be said about them, they’ve overcome adversity. They’re still here, still alive, and with much less talent than Cincinnati. Winning in the regular reason, after all, like the Bengals have done since 2011, is not enough. You need to win when it counts. The Bengals are without their star QB. The Steelers have a dynamic offense. Does this smell like upset to anyone but me?

Why Cincinnati Will Win

Because, even without Andy Dalton, they’re just the more talented team, on both sides of the football. AJ McCarron is no Big Ben, but he’s played really well since Dalton went down, so well that he’ll probably get a shot to win a job somewhere else next year. He just has to get them through one more game. Thankfully, he has a very good defense to help. He also has luck, because injuries have sidelined most of Pittsburgh’s running game. And, honestly, because, well, odds kind of dictate Cincinnati just has to win one of these sooner or later, right? Right?

Why Pittsburgh Will Win

Because teams like Pittsburgh always seem to be the ones that beat you. Because Antonio Brown is Antonio Brown and Big Ben, as much as I might hate his character, is a very good quarterback. Because the Bengals know how to lose in post-season, but the Steelers know how to win. They did win a SuperBowl as a wild-card team, not so long ago.

Alyssa’s Pick: Bengals 27, Steelers 24

The Bengals have struggled to win in the playoffs, sure, but AJ McCarron has stepped up big in Andy Dalton’s absence. Cincinnati’s defense has already proven they can hold off the Steelers high-powered offense, and they’ll do the same here in a close one.

Lizzie’s Pick: Bengals 27, Steelers 25

Even without Dalton, it’s time for Cincinnati. Time for the defense to step-up, for McCarron to continue to play a clean game and for Marvin Lewis to finally get his first playoff win.

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