In the first American Sports article, I will be looking at the NFL Playoffs. It is the Wildcard weekend of the Play-offs. The play-offs work with 12 teams. Six from each conference making the play-offs. The winners of the four divisions in each conference (AFC East, West, North, South and NFC East, West, North, South). With the best two remaining teams based on record and other tiebreakers if they are required. Seeds 1-4 are the four division wins with the seeding reflecting record. Tiebreakers are head-to-head, conference schedule and strength of schedule.
The play off field:
AFC Playoff Field –
Denver Broncos (12-4) (1st Seed/Homefield Advantage)
New England Patriots (12-4)(2nd Seed/First round bye/Reigning Champions)
Cincinnati Bengals (12-4) (3rd Seed/Homefield in Wildcard)
Houston Texans (9-7) (4th Seed/Homefield in Wildcard)
Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) (5th Seed, Face 4th Seed)
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) (6th Seed, Face 3rd Seed)
NFC Playoff Field –
Carolina Panthers (15-1) (1st Seed/Homefield Advantage)
Arizona Cardinals (13-3) (2nd Seed/First Round Bye)
Minnesota Vikings (11-5) (3rd Seed/Homefield in Wildcard)
Washington Redskins (9-7) (4th Seed/Homefield in Wildcard)
Green Bay Packers (10-6) (5th Seed, Face 4th Seed)
Seattle Seahawks (10-6) (6th Seed, Face 3rd Seed).
AFC Wilcard Preview and Predictions –
Steelers @ Bengals – Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Bengals host their division rivals, Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bengals are hoping to end their playoff drought after 20 seasons without a playoff victory. The Bengals will have to do it without their starting Quarterback, Andy Dalton, who will play in the next round should they win. They will have to rely on the solid backup, AJ McCarron, who has been solid in relief of their injured starter.
The Steelers have two thirds of their dynamic trio of offensive weapons. It is the one thing that has held them back throughout the season. The dynamic trio of ‘Big’ Ben Roethlisberger, Two time Superbowl Champion, Antonio Brown, a top 3 Wide receiver, and LeVeon Bell, star running back who they continue to be without. They come into the game on a great run behind the arm of Big Ben and the ability of Brown.
The play off woes for the Bengals continue as the red-hot Steelers take down the AFC North winners. Prediction – Steelers.
Chiefs @ Texans -NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas.
The AFC South winners, The Texans, take on the Chiefs. The Texans won the division which no team appeared to want to win. The Colts were considered huge favourites to win the division and the Superbowl. They missed out and the Texans, with 4 different starting QBs, took advantage and won the division in Indianapolis with their first win ever in Indianapolis. The Texans star is, without a doubt, JJ Watt. The Defensive Player of the Year last season. He has broken almost every record in the book and still has plenty of years left. The Texans Offense is a mess. Arian Foster, the starting RB has been out all season, the bright spark on Offense is star Wide Receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Who has had to carry the load no matter who is throwing the ball.
The Chiefs are intriguing. They started the season 1-5. A victory at Wembley Stadium against The Lions ended up sparking both teams into gear but the Chiefs, also without their star RB Jamaal Charles, won ten straight games going from favourites for the number 1 overall pick to a trendy pick to win the Superbowl. Over the last 10 weeks no team has been hotter than The Chiefs. With a dominant defence and a steady, no thrills offence they have quietly become one of the better teams in the league.
The Chiefs remain smoking hot and win their 11th straight game in Houston. Both AFC Wildcard teams win on the road. Prediction – Chiefs.
My NFC Predictions will be up tomorrow at 15:00 GMT.