Road teams stood tall in the Wild Card round, winning all four of last week's games. Now the NFL's top four seeds get in on the playoff action, hoping to reinforce homefield advantage as a true advantage. There just may be some surprises in store, especially for the highest seed of all. Let's take a look at all four of this weekend's Divisional playoff games.
Last week I went 3-1
I told you so: Packers over Redskins!
What do I know: Texans over Chiefs?
AFC - #4 Kansas City Chiefs at #2 New England Patriots
Saturday, January 16th - 3:35pm CST - CBS
The last time these two teams faced each other was early in the 2014 season, and the Chiefs embarrassed the Patriots at Arrowhead Stadium. The game served as a wakeup call for the Pats, who would go on to win the Super Bowl that season. This game will play out far differently from that encounter.
Kansas City's offense will face some difficulties in Foxboro, while their defense will have it's hands full with a Pats roster that had the benefit of another week off to rest it's injured stars. The key for victory will be New England's ability to attack the Kansas City defense. Unsurprisingly, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski will be the biggest factors in a win at Foxboro. With the win, New England will reach their fifth consecutive AFC Championship Game. New England wins 24-14.
NFC - #4 Green Bay Packers at #2 Arizona Cardinals
Saturday, January 16th - 7:15pm CST - NBC
The last time these two teams faced each other was only two weeks ago and Arizona steamrolled the Packers in the desert. While this game may not prove to be as much of a blowout, the Cards are clearly the better team. Where Arizona is supremely balanced and well coached, Green Bay only has Aaron Rodgers to lean on in this game.
Should Arizona get even half the pass rush they received in the first meeting, they could roll in this one. Arizona is the better team in just about every aspect of this game, and they will prove it again here in this one. Arizona wins 28-19.
NFC - #6 Seattle Seahawks at #1 Carolina Panthers
Sunday, January 17th - 12:05pm CST - FOX
Carolina had arguably it's most important win of the season as they drove the field to win late in Seattle earlier this season. These two teams have played each other at least once a season, every season in recent years, and every meeting with the exception of last year's Divisional round game in Seattle has been extremely close. A solid rivalry has developed here and it will continue with another tight matchup.
These teams have played so many close games against each other because they are similar in many ways. Both are great at running the ball while getting the most out of their passing game when they absolutely need to, and they both are anchored by their great defenses. The key to this game will be Seattle's balance (4th in offense, 2nd in defense) and their resolve under pressure. This is a huge moment for the Panthers, but the Seahawks are accustomed to these moments. This will be the best game of the week. Seattle wins 19-14.
AFC - #6 Pittsburgh Steelers at #1 Denver Broncos
Sunday, January 17th - 3:40pm CST - CBS
The last time these two teams faced each other, a month ago in Pittsburgh, The Steelers stunned the Brock Osweiler-led Broncos with a late go-ahead touchdown pass by Ben Roethlisberger. Now Pittsburgh enters this game as the walking wounded, with tough injuries at key spots. Following their battle in Cincinnati, they enter Denver at a severe disadvantage against the top defense in the NFL. Big Ben will be nowhere near 100% and his weapons will suffer without Antonio Brown.
The last time we saw Peyton Manning in the playoffs, he looked awful. His passes were dying before they ever reached their target and his arm looked dead, as the long season and wear and tear took its toll on him as the Broncos fell to Indy in the Divisional round. Now, Manning has had the entire second half of the season to rest for this postseason run, backed by the most balanced offense he's had in Denver, as well as the best defense he's played with, period. Denver wins 30-23.
We move one week closer to arguably the most exciting day in sports, NFL Conference Championship Sunday. Which of the teams will represent the NFL's final four? We'll just have to wait and see. Leave us your picks, comments, and insight below!