There’s no time like playoff time when it comes to the NFL. It’s Christmas come, well, right after Christmas only it’s all receiving on our end. Simply said, next to the start of the NFL season in September, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Following yesterday’s thrilling AFC wild card action, we’re taking a look at Sunday’s NFC doubleheader pitting the Seattle Seahawks vs. Minnesota Vikings (1:05pm, NBC) and the Green Bay Packers vs. Washington Redskins (4:40pm, FOX). Two NFC powerhouses known for their prowess find themselves in a wild card spot battling two division winning teams that have been doing everything right as of late. But as we know in the NFL, everything can change with one snap.
Here’s a preview and our picks for today’s NFC wild card playoff action:
Seattle Seahawks vs. Minnesota Vikings
Sunday, 1:05pm, NBC
If you want to talk about two teams hitting their stride at just the right time then this match-up pitting a Minnesota Vikings team that has quietly been a threat all season and a Seattle Seahawks team finally peaking after a rough start to the year is one to watch. The Seahawks are thriving with quarterback Russell Wilson leading the way, and the Vikings are getting solid play on both sides of the ball that is going to make this match-up an intriguing one…especially when you throw in the frigid conditions that await them.
Why Seattle Will Win
The last time that the Seahawks met the Vikings they delivered Minnesota their worst loss of the season — a 38-7 rout at home. While this is surely a clean slate, the Seahawks have a gameplan for victory: play sound defense and let Russell Wilson do his thing in the air and on the ground. If the Seahawks can stop power running back Adrian Peterson and force Teddy Bridgewater to beat them through the air with the league’s 31st-ranked passing game then the Seahawks will easily nab victory here combined with their high powered offense leading the way.
Why Minnesota Will Win
Considering that the last time that the Vikings met the Seahawks — a 38-7 blowout — they were down four defensive starters. Their returns should certainly help things when they face an amped-up Russell Wilson and a potent Seahawks offense. But if the Vikings are going to win it’s going to be because of one thing: Adrian Peterson. The perennial running back has always been a staple of the Minnesota Vikings, and he has been one of the main reasons for the success of the Vikings offense. The frigid conditions certainly don’t hurt, which can affect Wilson’s style of play and the Vikings could steal a victory via a defensive or special teams touchdown.
Alyssa’s Pick: Seahawks 27, Vikings 17
While things are certainly different after the Seahawks blew out the Vikings on Dec. 6, the Seahawks will still easily come away with a victory in what’s to be an absolutely chilly day in Minnesota. The Seahawks defense will be able to contain Adrian Peterson and Teddy Bridgewater won’t be able to beat them in the air, and the Vikings won’t be able to contain a pass-happy Russell Wilson.
Lizzie’s Pick: Vikings 27, Seahawks 23
Revenge is a dish best served cold. And it’s going to be really, really cold in Minessota on Sunday. That’s going to even out the playing field. Also, recent playoff history indicates that if you blow out a team in December you lose in January.
Green Bay Packers vs. Washington Redskins
Sunday, 4:40pm, FOX
When discussing the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins both teams couldn’t have taken a different route into the playoffs. The Redskins won a dismal NFC East but have shown that they might have something with quarterback Kirk Cousins. The Packers, on the other hand, have had an uncharacteristic year that still results with them locking up a wildcard spot. Both have their weaknesses, but each team will rise or fall depending on their quarterback.
Why Green Bay Will Win
While Aaron Rodgers has been off his game lately, struggling behind an injury-riddled offensive line, if Green Bay is going to win this game it’s going to be because of Rodgers. Green Bay got off to a hot start starting 6-0 before fumbling to a rocky 4-6 finish, but they’ve always lived and died by Rodgers and his ability to cultivate scoring drives. If the Packers are going to win, then Rodgers is going to need to find a way to keep drives alive and put points on the board. He’ll also need some help from his defense on getting the Redskins off the field on third down.
Why Washington Will Win
The Redskins are a team that is peaking at the right time behind an emerging threat in quarterback Kirk Cousins, who has been groomed from RGIII’s back-up to playoff starter. While Washington has struggled against playoff-caliber teams this season, they’ve playing some really confident football right now and will get the Packers on their home turf. If the Redskins defense can get after Aaron Rodgers and that ailing offensive line then there’s no reason why the Redskins couldn’t pull what many consider to be an upset.
Alyssa’s Pick: Redskins 24, Packers 17
Green Bay has stumbled its way into the playoffs while Washington is peaking just at the right time. Aaron Rodgers has struggled behind a battered offensive line and the Redskins defense will likely make the day a living hell for him.