When you looked at the times and dates of all the games when they came out almost two weeks ago, this was probably what the NFL wanted. The matchups for Sunday may be the best divisional matchups that we’ve had on one day in a while. With the Pittsburgh Steelers going to Kansas City to face the Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers heading down to Dallas to face the Cowboys, the NFL must be doing backflips. These matchups are so good, we can only hope to have the same next week in the Conference Champions. So, without further ado, let’s get into the 2017 NFL Playoff Divisional round for Sunday.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs (-1)
IN my opinion, the Kansas City Chiefs were, and possibly still are, the best team in the AFC. They have a great combination of running game and defense that fits the playoff winning team perfectly. They have all three of their main pass rushers in Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, and Dee Ford, available and their secondary is very adept at causing turnovers. The questions lie on offense. QB Alex Smith is solid, but not spectacular, but the real question is can RB Spencer Ware continue to carry the load. He started out the year like gangbusters but has slowed down considerably lately. Does he have enough in the tank?
The Pittsburgh Steelers completely dominated the Miami Dolphins last week. The “Killer Bs”, QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell, and WR Antonio Brown, all went off last week with the latter 2 have two TDs each. With the healthiest offense in the league currently and an improving running game, the Steelers must be the most feared team in the sport currently. Last week was the 1st time the all three of the previously mentioned “Killer Bs” all started in the same playoff game and if that was a preview of things to come, watch out NFL.
I personally think that this will be the best game of the entire playoffs and that these are the two best teams in the sport right now. In my opinion, if you had asked me to pick this game a month ago, I would have picked Kansas City, the only reason I am switching is because of the injury to ILB Derrick Johnson. The key to this game will be how do the Chiefs stop Bell, not as a runner, but as a receiver out the backfield. If they find a way to slow him down as a receiver, they win this game, if not, Steelers move on.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 24, Kansas City 21
Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys (-4.5)
Dallas may have gotten a break when the only team that beat them all year, the New York Giants, got ran out the building last week in frigid Green Bay. They have the perfect system to get to the Superbowl. They have the big time running game, the best offensive line in the sport, and a defense that has stepped up much better than most anticipated. The only things that could stop them now injuries, rookies showing their youth, turnovers, or facing a QB that is really, really on fire.
Speaking of being a QB that is really on fire, whether you call him Mr. “Relax”, Mr. “Run the Table”, Mr. or “Hail Mary”, enter Aaron Rodgers. I realize one player can’t win a game by himself, but if it’s possible, Rodgers is the one who can do it. Over the last seven games, Rodgers is averaging 290 yards per game with 19 TDs and 0 INTs. That right, 19 TDs and ZERO INTs. The former NFL League MVP is hitting on all cylinders right now and despite facing the hot Giants defense, and losing his #1 WR Jordy Nelson early last week, he still threw for 362 yards with 3 TDs. It’s truly amazing to watch someone as good as him.
This game is a simple game to explain. There will be three things that decide the winner of this game. Can the Packers contain Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott to under 100 yards? Rodgers can’t throw 60 times, so can the Packers get solid production from RB Ty Montgomery? And lastly, will Dallas QB Dak Prescott be forced to throw more, which could lead to turnovers, which as we know is the ultimate equalizer. If Green Bay can answer yes to two or three at these questions, they win, if not, they’ll be starting their offseason. It’s another coin flip game and I lean towards Dallas, but wouldn’t be surprised with either winning. It’s very hard to bet against Rodgers right now.
Prediction: Dallas 34, Green Bay 30
If you are a football fan, it really doesn’t get any better than this day. The winner of the two games today will be my picks to win in the conference championship games next week. Both games should be close, both should be well played, and both should be games that involve the hottest teams in the sport. This is a great way to conclude the divisional round and next week we get to see who will be playing in Superbowl LI, so enjoy the Divisional Round.