Heading into a weekend full of football, 12 teams remain. Only eight will stand following the Wild Card round.
Wild Card Round Preview
Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans
The Chiefs enter this matchup riding a ten-game winning streak. Since starting out the season at 1-5, their defense has played at a very high level and their offense has been both consistent and effective. However, the Texans also finished the regular season on a roll, winning seven of their last nine. Two stingy defenses collide, but the Chiefs’ steady offense will be the difference.
Pick: Chiefs, 24, Texans, 17
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
During the regular season, these AFC North rivals split the series 1-1. The Bengals won 16-10 in Week 8, and the Steelers won 33-20 in Week 14. While the Steelers just squeaked into the playoffs, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s plethora of targets—including wide receiver Antonio Brown, arguably the top wideout in the league—will challenge the Bengals’ solid defense. The Bengals are playing without QB Andy Dalton due to an injury, but backup signal caller AJ McCarron quarterbacked the team during a 2-1 stretch to close out the regular season. The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since 1991. Playing at home will be an advantage.
Pick: Bengals, 27, Steelers, 20
Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and co. were virtually unstoppable down the stretch excluding their Week 16 23-17 loss to the St. Louis Rams. Against the then-13-2 Arizona Cardinals, the Seahawks rolled to a 36-6 victory. WR Doug Baldwin has been a touchdown machine, totaling 14 during the regular season. The Vikings offense is led by running back Adrian Peterson, which will greatly benefit Minnesota considering the temperature is expected to hover around 0ºF. Earlier this season, the Seahawks defeated the Vikings 38-7.
Pick: Seahawks, 23, Vikings, 14
Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins
The Packers struggled a bit in 2015. The lost WR Jordy Nelson to an injury before the season started, and the offense simply hasn’t looked in sync. However, with QB Aaron Rodgers at the helm, the Packers have the potential to score lots of points. Redskins QB Kirk Cousins has played exceptionally towards the end of the regular season, and in the past five games, the defense has held its opponents to under 26 points, which gives the team a shot to win. The Redskins were 4-1 during that span.
Pick: Redskins, 31, Packers, 24