Predicting the NFL divisional playoff round


Carson Field, Sports Editor

The NFL playoffs kicked off last week with the wild card round, and the field competing for the Super Bowl was trimmed from 12 teams to eight. The eight teams will square off this weekend in the divisional playoffs, when the playoff field will be further reduced to four teams. The four matchups are very intriguing, and there will likely be multiple close games.


Patriots vs. Texans

The Texans took care of business in the wild card round, defeating the Raiders, 27-14. They will face a much more challenging opponent this weekend in the New England Patriots. The Patriots are a rare example of an NFL dynasty, and they have plenty of experience winning playoff games. New England is led by Tom Brady, who is one of the best who has ever played quarterback. It will be interesting to see if the Texans’ defense can force turnovers against Brady and the Patriots’ offense. The Texans’ defense picked Connor Cook off three times in round one, but Brady is much more skilled than Cook. Houston has to win the turnover margin to stay in this game. If not, this one may be ugly.

Score prediction: New England 31, Houston 13

Chiefs vs. Steelers

The Steelers dominated the Dolphins in the wild card round, winning 30-12. This week, Pittsburgh will face the Chiefs, who have won five of their last six games. An interesting matchup in this game will be how the Chiefs’ defense can matchup against the Steelers’ explosive stars. Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown had field days against the weak Miami defense, but Kansas City’s defensive unit is much stronger than the Dolphins’. While winning five of six is impressive, the Steelers have a streak of their own, as they are currently riding an eight-game winning streak. Because their defense has improved tremendously, there is a good chance the Steelers extend their streak to nine games. It will be a close game, but the Steelers will escape Kansas City with a win.

Score prediction: Pittsburgh 27, Kansas City 21


Cowboys vs. Packers

Dallas has exceeded all expectations this year, for they have the best record in the NFC. However, this weekend’s game may be a difficult one, as they play the Packers, who are on a seven-game winning streak. Aaron Rodgers has been near unstoppable lately, and has not thrown an interception since November 13. The Cowboys’ secondary will have to make Rodgers uncomfortable to stop his dominance. Rodgers threw for 362 yards and four touchdowns last week against the Giants, and they have a solid secondary. Also, the Cowboys’ rookies will need to play like veterans. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 157 yards in week six, and he will need to have another big game on the ground. Despite giving up plenty of yards to Elliott the first time these teams played, the Packers have one of the best run defenses in the NFL, and will likely make necessary adjustments to neutralize him. If Rodgers can pass effectively and the Packers’ run defense can stop Zeke, they will be on to the NFC Championship.

Score prediction: Packers 23, Cowboys 17

Falcons vs. Seahawks

The Seahawks, who lost their control of the two-seed in week 16, redeemed themselves last Saturday in the 26-6 victory over Detroit. However, they will face a much tougher team this weekend when they travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons. The Falcons, led by former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, have been great this year, as they are the two-seed in the NFC. Matt Ryan has been a monster this year, as he is a candidate for MVP. The Seahawks offense, on the other hand, has struggled at times this year, and they will need to expose the Falcons’ defense if they want to have a chance at winning on Saturday. In addition, the Seahawks secondary, nicknamed the Legion of Boom, needs to force turnovers and matchup against Julio Jones to neutralize the Falcons’ offense. If the Falcons can score against the Seahawks’ daunting secondary, they will be on their way to the NFC Championship.

Score prediction: Falcons 38, Seahawks 34