You thought last week was crazy? (I thought last week was craaaaaazy). Well, chances are we ain’t seen nothing yet, as the two top teams in the AFC, and two of the top QBs in the history of the game take the field this weekend. And although the idea of a dominant team in the AFC is more a pipe dream than a reality, it still sort of feels like the universe is aligning to give us one more shot at Brady vs. Manning.
But try telling that to the Kansas City Chiefs, or the Pittsburgh Steelers. And with the way things have gone this year in the AFC, it’s hard to count them out. After all, a conference that can see Peyton Manning benched, the Patriots lose to the Dolphins in the last game of the season to fall out of Number 1 and the Jets implode in the final weekend to allow Pittsburgh to make it into the postseason, can surely summon up a little more drama in time for the playoffs.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots
Saturday, 4:35pm, CBS
The Patriots haven’t looked this vulnerable in ages. The Chiefs have won eleven games in a row. On paper, this looks like a potential upset, especially if New England’s receivers are anything other than 100% healthy. The Chiefs certainly think so. But, on the football field, things are a lot less cut-and-dry.
One thing is for certain, the Chiefs are good at putting pressure on the quarterback, and if there’s one thing Tom Brady hates is pressure. Just ask the Dolphins, the one team that has consistently beaten him. Brady also plays behind a suspect offensive line, but despite that, he hasn’t gotten picked off a lot. If you’re Kansas City, sacks won’t do it. You need Brady to turn over the ball. And then, you need to capitalize.
Why Kansas City Will Win
If there was ever a time to upset the Patriots, this is it. Edelman is just coming back from an injury, Gronkowski has been limited in practice and Tom Brady was banged up in the final game of the season. If the Chiefs can manage a big play or two down the field, and the defense can pressure Brady into giving them at least a turnover, a win for Kansas City is not impossible. But they need to control the game clock. Don’t give New England a chance to beat you, or chances are, they will.
Why New England Will Win
Because they’re the Patriots and they always win, even when you don’t think they will and/or should? It’s either the Tom Brady magic, or Bill Belichick doing Jedi mind tricks on the opponent’s. Maybe both.
Fact is, the Patriots, as much as people hate them, are a good team. They’re not a perfect team by any stretch of the imagination, but if their receivers are healthy and Brady doesn’t turn the ball over, there’s no reason why they should lose this game. They’re at home, they have one of the best quarterbacks in the game, and the Chiefs, as good as they’ve been playing, are simply not as talented.
Alyssa’s Pick: Patriots 28 Chiefs 13
Kansas City is riding the high of a 30-0 shutout of the Texans in the wild card round, but they’ll face one of the biggest challenges a team can face: the New England Patriots in the playoffs. Even with a shoddy offensive line Tom Brady should light it up with returning target Julian Edelman and his go-to man Rob Gronkowski, and the Patriots should win an easy one.
Lizzie’s Pick: Patriots 31, Chiefs 17
As much as I love the idea of an upset (and going against Belichick), I just don’t think Kansas City has enough to beat the Patriots, at home, after an extra-week of rest. I just don’t.
Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals
Saturday, 8:15 pm, NBC
The Packer’s got their ass handed to them by the Cardinals just last month. Normally, I’d count that as a positive in favor of Arizona, but recent playoff history seems to indicate the contrary. The Packers have the better quarterback without a doubt, but the Cardinals have the better defense, offense and special teams, they’re well rested, and they’re at home.
Green Bay looked dominant last week, but they were playing the Redskins. There’s no comparison between Washington and Arizona. None whatsoever.
Why Green Bay Will Win
If Arizona has a terrible, terrible game, Aaron Rodgers can pull it off. I believe Rodgers to be one of those quarterbacks that gives you a chance in any game. And I don’t see this being the type of blowout that we saw the last time these two teams faced off against each other. But everything, and by everything, I mean absolutely everything would need to go well for Green Bay to win this game.
Why Arizona Will Win
Because they’re way better. The Packer’s win against the Redskins is bound to give them some confidence, but let’s face it, the Redskins were 9-7 and hadn’t beaten a team over .500 all year. Carson Palmer is having a career year, the Cardinals defense is vastly superior, and Aaron Rodgers just won’t be enough for the Packers. Not this time.
Alyssa’s Pick: Cardinals 24, Packers 20
While the Green Bay Packers stumbled into the playoffs, they found a new sense of confidence in a 35-18 wild card win over the Washington Redskins last week. But despite Green Bay’s resurgence last week, the Cardinals already have the game plan to defeating Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, and Arizona will employ such in what should be a much closer contest than that Week 16 blowout but have a similar result.
Lizzie’s Pick: Cardinals 35, Packers 20
Usually, the better team wins. Crazy stuff happens, of course, but as a general rule, the better team wins. Arizona is clearly the better team.