The NFL Playoffs are officially underway as teams continue their fight for the coveted Lombardi Trophy. Now that the Wild Card round is over, the teams that were on a bye will play their first game of the playoffs while the teams that advanced from the Wild Card round will look to keep momentum on their side to continue their playoff push. The match ups will be the Oakland Raiders visiting Foxboro as they face the AFC's number one seed, the New England Patriots. The Pittsburgh Steelers will head to Kansas City to play the Chiefs, the Green Bay Packers will go to Dallas to play the Cowboys, and the Seattle Seahawks will travel down south to play the Atlanta Falcons. Let's start this article with the AFC and then move to the NFC.
Oakland Raiders (Fifth Seed) at New England Patriots (First Seed)
Many people predicted this to be the AFC Championship match up, but due to the injury to Derek Carr, making him unavailable for the rest of the year, they ended up playing in the Divisional round instead. The Raiders will be a very different team without Derek Carr and the Patriots will look to make another playoff run without star tight end, Rob Gronkowski. The Raiders will need to have a good game from rookie quarterback Connor Cook, the running game, and also the defense. The Patriots will need to have their offensive live show up to protect Brady from Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. The defensive line would need to have a good game to force the rookie to make some rookie mistakes. I see the Raiders struggling on offense with Carr out and the Patriots with one of the best defenses in the league will take advantage of that. I have the Patriots advancing to another AFC Championship.
Score: Patriots 24 Raiders 10
Pittsburgh Steelers (Third Seed) at Kansas City Chiefs (Second Seed)
This game will be a rematch of week four in the regular season, where the Chiefs came to Pittsburgh and lost 43-14. Ben Roethlisberger threw five touchdowns that game as he embarrassed the Chiefs defense. The Chiefs are a completely different team now, plus they have home field advantage knowing that the Steelers struggle on the road. This match up is basically one of the league's best offenses which includes Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and LeVeon Bell versus one of the league's best defenses which include Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, and Eric Berry. Pittsburgh will need big games from LeVeon Bell, Antonio Brown, Big Ben, and the defense to advance. Kansas City will need their defense to hold this prolific offense as well as rookie wide receiver Tyreek Hill to be the amazing return man he has been all season with his amazing speed. Also, a strong outing by quarterback Alex Smith and running back Spencer Ware wouldn't hurt either. I see Kansas City winning a close game as their defense and special teams will be too much for Pittsburgh.
Score Kansas City 20 Pittsburgh 10
Green Bay Packers (Fourth Seed) at Dallas Cowboys (First Seed)
This will be a week six rematch when the Cowboys beat the Packers 30-16. The Cowboys are looking to continue this magical season led by Dak and Zeke while Aaron Rodgers is chasing another championship with his Packers. This will be Dak's and Zeke's first playoff game and everyone will be watching to see how they will play. Will they play up to expectations or will they finally hit the rookie wall? Expect a lot of offense in this game with the Cowboys rushing attack and the Packers passing attack. The Cowboys will need their defense to try to stop the Packers offense and for their star rookies to play like how they have been playing all year. The Packers will need to depend on their run defense to stop Zeke Elliot, as he recently won the NFL rushing title. Also, the Green Bay receivers will need to play well this game. Dallas will win this high scoring game.
Score: Dallas 30 Green Bay 23
Seattle Seahawks (Third Seed) at Atlanta Falcons (Second Seed)
This match up is another week six rematch where the Seattle Seahawks escaped with a 26-24 win versus the Atlanta Falcons. This will be a very different match up though. Since that week six game, the Falcons offense caught on fire while the Seahawks lost safety Earl Thomas for the season due to an injury. Seattle has not looked like the same team that won a championship a couple of years ago while Atlanta is improving. The Seahawks have struggled on the road so this game might be trouble for them. The Seahawks will need their defense to be great this game to stop star receiver Julio Jones and running back Devonta Freeman. They will also need their offensive line to be productive to keep Vic Beasley Jr. away from Russell Wilson. The Falcons will need their defense to hold down the great combo of Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin as well as tight end, Jimmy Graham. Also, they will need big games from wideout, Julio Jones, and their defensive line to put pressure on Russell Wilson. Look for Vic Beasley Jr. to have a great game. I see the Falcons escaping with a very close win to finally get past their playoff struggles.
Score: Atlanta: 17 Seattle 14
Those are my predictions for the divisional round for the NFL Playoffs. These were made on Friday before Wild Card weekend so the match ups may not be correct. Good luck to all the teams involved and see you guys next week for the championship round!