Article Written By: Julian Beck
Wild-Card weekend brings us some intriguing match-ups and some cold weather. The cold weather games will have some very interesting game plans that will either lead to high scores or very sloppy games. Each game will be very entertaining to watch and I know all football fans can’t wait until kickoff.
Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts; Saturday 4:35 pm ET
The Colts think they’re playing their best football at the perfect time. The Chiefs are hoping to finally be healthy when it matters most. Indy has won three straight while Kansas City has dropped the last two. Andy Reid rested most of his starters during week 17 against San Diego, almost squeaking by with a win, but losing 27-24 on a last second missed field goal that should have been a re-kick, but that is a different story. Andrew Luck is still without Reggie Wayne, the heartbeat of this offense, but TY Hilton, Colby Fleener, and Donald Brown have done enough to carry this offense. The Chiefs are crossing their fingers that they will be healthy for this game and play that stout defense they were playing during the beginning of the season. Jamaal Charles will carry their offense and open up the passing game. Andrew Luck is going to have to get the ball out of his hand quickly to avoid the dangerous pass rush of Hali and Houston.
X-Factor: Kansas City’s pass rush. If they can get to Luck and force pressure then the Colts offense will have a tough time moving the chains.
Prediction: 32-21 Kansas City Chiefs
New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles; Saturday 8:10 pm ET
Brees has already won a Super Bowl while Foles will be playing in his first playoff game. Nick went 8-2 as a starter and threw for 27 touchdowns with only 2 interceptions. Those stats helped him lead Philly to the playoffs for the first time since 2010. The Eagles played lights out this season on offense. DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, and Riley Cooper all made big plays through out the season. Remember Philly did all this while Jeremy Maclin was out all season with an injury, when he comes back next season this offense will be taken to another level. Drew Brees had another terrific season leading the Saints to an 11-5 record which was good enough for a wild-card berth. His favorite target was Jimmy Graham. Graham had a career year, scoring a league best 16 receiving touchdowns. The Saints defense will miss fellow rookie Kenny Vacaro. Vacaro had a good rookie season and would have been able to stop McCoy when he breaks off for big runs.
X-Factor: DeSean Jackson. If DeSean can take advantage of LeSean opening up the passing game then this game can get out of hand with his deep threat ability.
Prediction: 42-38 Philadelphia Eagles
San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals; Sunday 1:05 pm ET
Phillip Rivers has taken the Chargers to the playoffs this year after a three year drought, while Andy Dalton and the Bengals are looking for their first playoff win since making the playoffs three years in a row. Coach Mike McCoy has taken San Diego’s offense to another level. Ryan Mathews had a career year, Phillip Rivers proved to everyone that he can carry a team on his back, Keenan Allen showed everyone he was worth a 1st round pick and not a 3rd, and Danny Woodhead was catching clutch passes out of the back field. While the Bengals offense also took off this year, thanks to rookie running back Gio Bernard. Gio is a multi-purpose back, being able to rush for big plays and catch passes out the back field. Dalton also had a good year playing under center, throwing for 33 touchdowns. AJ Green was a big beneficiary of that, catching 11 of them. Bengals defense has had some injuries this season, but they still were able to cause many turnovers and allow Dalton and his offense take advantage of the field position.
X-Factor: Eric Weddle. When Weddle is playing like the beast he is able to force turnovers and stop anyone who gets in his way. Chargers defense has to disrupt Dalton and force him to throw interceptions, which is something he is prone to.
Prediction: 32-28 San Diego Chargers
San Francisco 49er’s at Green Bay Packers; Sunday 4:40 pm ET
Green Bay has all the confidence in the world now that Aaron Rodgers is back under center. Rodgers is the heart and soul of this team. He is able to make plays and escape from pressure completing passes down field. Just looks too easy to him. But he will have a tough match-up against one of the league best defenses. San Francisco’s D ranked third in scoring defense at 17.0 points and fifth in total defense at 316.9 yards per game. Eddy Lacy was held in check the first meeting but he is on a hot streak now and isn’t looking to slow down. When Lacy is the main focus of the offense then this passing attack can be dangerous. Frank Gore will be called upon this game to carry this offense against a very weak Packer rush-defense. Kaepernick is best when he is throwing off of play-action, so look for the run game to open up the passing attack.
X-Factor: Frank Gore. Gore should be in for a big game against a weak Green Bay defense.
Prediction: 28-17 San Francisco 49er’s