With week 17 in the books, the stage is finally set for the first round of the playoffs. Week 17 was as important as ever, with up to 128 potential scenarios possible depending on certain outcomes. But we’ve narrowed it to one, so let’s look at the AFC side of things for Wild Card weekend.
#3 Texans vs. #6 Colts
The Colts were able to beat Blaine Gabbert and the Titans to grab the six seed in the AFC playoffs.
Playing a division rival is always interesting because you get to play someone you’ve seen twice already. The Texans and Colts split this season, with the Texans winning the first time in overtime and the Colts winning the second matchup.
Both teams won by a field goal, so these two are as even as it gets. Both teams have dynamic quarterbacks and an average running game.
The defenses are only 60 yards apart and 2 points apart for total yards allowed and points per game.
This matchup is extremely tight and really could go either way. However, I’m going to give the edge to the Texans for a couple reasonS.
One, Deshaun Watson has been electric this year, despite playing behind an awful offensive line. He had a very solid season despite starting slow. He also has one of the best receivers in the NFL and has a defense with one of the best pass rushers.
I’m also giving an edge to the Texans because they have home field advantage and for some reason, that makes a big difference in the NFL (despite the fact that both teams are dome teams). This will be a very exciting game that will likely come down to the final drive. The real excitement however, will be getting to see Deshaun Watson in his first ever NFL playoff game. However, the Colts will be hoping that Andrew Luck’s experience will trump any Texans’ advantage.
Final Score: 27-24 Texans
#4 Ravens vs #5 Chargers
This game is also intriguing because it features a rematch from earlier this season.
The Ravens and Chargers played just two weeks ago. It was a game dominated by the Ravens’ defense, which is the top ranked defense this year.
The Ravens are 6-1 since Lamar Jackson took over, which has led them to a division title. The Ravens are dangerous for two reasons.
One, they have dominated the ground game since Jackson took over. In the last 7 games, they are averaging 229 rushing yard per game. Second, they dominate time of possession. They are averaging nearly 40 minutes time of possession since Jackson took over.
This helps their defense (specifically the veterans like Suggs) stay well rested and able to play at a high level for the whole game. However, I don’t expect the Chargers offense to look as their last bout with the Ravens.
Phillip Rivers knows that he’s in the twilight of his career. He won’t get many more opportunities to make a run, and this is his year to do it. He was part of the second best team in the AFC (and split with the one seed) so he knows they have the potential to make a Super Bowl run. Couple that with the fact that they are playing a rookie quarterback, and I like the Chargers’ chances. Hopefully, the Chargers don’t have a big Chargers’ goof like they’ve been known to do.
Final Score: 24-14 Chargers
So, if the results go this way, our matchups for next week would be:
#1 Chiefs vs #5 Chargers
#2 Patriots vs #3 Texans
Once again, we’d have a divisional matchup and a rematch from early in the season. It would certainly make for an exciting Divisional Round. Make sure to read the NFC Wild Card Preview tomorrow!
-Stephen Brown III (@sbtrey23)
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