The dust has already settled on the regular season and this weekend sees the beginning of the post season, the play-offs and the race to the Superbowl. 32 teams started the journey back in September and now 12 remain in the hunt for a trip to Minnesota on Feb 6th.
6 left in the AFC and 6 left in the NFC. On Saturday, the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Tennesse Titans in the first AFC game whilst the Atlanta Falcons head to the LA Rams in the NFC. Sunday, it’s the turn of the Buffalo Bills heading to London’s team, the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC and the Carolina Panthers head to New Orleans to take on the Saints in the NFC on Wild Card Weekend.
The Bills are in their first play offs since 1999, fitting given the tragic passing of Bills fan Kevin Cadle who did so much as the host of the NFL on SKY gaining a new UK audience, but they come up against a Jaguars team that has impressed this season and after years of team building look to have a decent shot at continuous post season involvement.
The Chiefs will expect to beat the Titans, although an up and down year won’t make them clear favourites. In QB Alex Smith, they do possesses a veteran play caller to make a difference along with running back Kareem Hunt, whilst head coach Andy Reid has faired well in his 5 seasons, with this being his fourth appearance.
So, for the AFC this weekend it’s the Chiefs and Jags for me to head into the Divisional Round next weekend.
Over in the NFC, it’s a bit harder to call! The Rams should have enough to see off the Falcons, QB Jared Goff has been a sensation this season for them and they were very impressive in London earlier in the season, add RB Todd Gurley who is in majestical form as well and the Rams appear unstoppable. The Falcons are very unpredictable, you never know what you’re gonna get with them, and they make it hard for Rams offense to get going, but they will need to shut down their running game to leave LA with a win.
The Panthers and the Saints is definitely the game of the round. Divisional rivals in the NFC South and having met in division action only a few weeks back makes this a top encounter. Panthers QB Cam Newton is back on it this year and will be itching to get back to the Superbowl, but veteran campaigner Drew Bees will also be looking to get his side back to the big game and he has a superb pair of running backs in rookie Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. These two take some stopping and the Panthers D will have a hard time keeping them in check.
For the NFC, it’s the Rams and Saints for me, in just over 48 hours we’ll see who has advanced to the Divisional Round and a step closer to Superbowl 52.
Overall for the Superbowl, you can never look past New England, but they haven’t been as invincible as in previous years. The Vikings will want to be the first team ever to play a Superbowl in their own stadium and you can’t discount the Steelers either. The winners should come from one of those three, but as in the past anyone can come from nowhere, get some momentum and then win it, that’s the beauty of the NFL.