With the Packers win over the Giants a short time ago, the Divisional Round slate is set for next weekend. There should be some better games in the offing, including one featuring our beloved Atlanta Falcons.
Somewhat unusually, every favorite won over the weekend. There were several weak playoff teams this year, or teams that were made weaker by injuries to key players like, you know, quarterbacks. The results were that the Texans, Steelers, and Seahawks all easily slid by, and the Packers were able to dispatch the Giants in a pretty ugly game to close things out.
Next weekend, we get to see the two top teams from each conference in action for the first time in the postseason, and I think it’s fair to expect that one of those four teams will ultimately win the Super Bowl this year. There just wasn’t the same level of parity as there has been in recent years, and the Cowboys, Falcons, Chiefs, and Patriots are all truly excellent football teams, with the Steelers and Packers also lurking as potential contenders. I’d praise the Seahawks, but you know, the Falcons need to beat them and all that.
Here’s the upcoming slate of games with some thoughts on who might win each one. We’ll talk more about picks coming up.
#1 New England Patriots vs. #4 Houston Texans
The Patriots have the easiest game next weekend against a Texans team they whipped earlier this year. If Houston pulls off the upset, it will be the single most stunning thing that has happened all season, and I include the Falcons getting Taylor Gabriel for absolutely nothing and turning him into one of the NFL’s most intimidating weapons. The Pats are the odds-on favorites to win the AFC.
#2 Kansas City Chiefs vs. #3 Pittsburgh Steelers
I expect this to be a truly great game. The Chiefs has one of the league’s nastiest defenses and a game offense, to boot, while the Steelers do enough on defense to allow one of the NFL’s best offenses to win games. It’s a clash of styles
I’ve got Kansas City, here, but I’m not super confident in that outcome.
#1 Dallas Cowboys vs. #4 Green Bay Packers
Dallas was the best team in the NFC all year, and while you have to wonder any time you’re throwing a rookie quarterback into the postseason fire (and facing a cupcake schedule, as the Cowboys largely did), they’re my pick to win this. They’re just a balanced, dangerous team that can dismantle Green Bay if they start off shaky like they did against the Giants. Aaron Rodgers looms, as always, as a potential X factor.
#2 Atlanta Falcons vs. #3 Seattle Seahawks
Tough matchup we’ll be talking about all week, but it’s the one I wanted the Falcons to wind up with, and I think they’ll win this. This is also potentially the last game ever in the Georgia Dome, so please, Football Gods.