Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 NFL Wild Card Predictions

Chiefs @ Colts: After beating the Buffalo Bills in a Week 9 matchup, the Kansas City Chiefs were 9-0 going into their Week 10 bye; however, since Week 10, the Chiefs are 2-5, putting them at 11-5 on the year. One of those losses came against the Indianapolis Colts, where Andrew Luck and the Colts marched into Kansas City and won by a score of 23-7. In the last six games, Justin Houston, outside linebacker for Kansas City (seen on the right), has been watching from the sidelines, but in the 11 games that he played, he recorded 11.0 sacks with a forced fumble. Houston is expected to return in Saturday's game against Indy, along with outside linebacker Tamba Hali, who sat out last Sunday's game as well. The Colts' offensive line is ranked 6th in the league this season, so Kansas City's defense needs all the help it can get. Offensively, both teams have their key weapons that will need to play well in order for them to advance into the next round of the playoffs. Running back Jamaal Charles of Kansas City acquired 1,287 rushing yards with 19 total touchdowns this year, and the Colts have struggled at times when defending the run. Despite their inconsistency, Andrew Luck and the Colts are my pick to win on Saturday.
Colts over Chiefs 17-13

Saints @ Eagles: When playing at home, the New Orleans Saints as a team can be compared to Superman: indestructible, intimidating, and capable of disrupting any type of opposition. But just like Superman, the Saints have their kryptonite: road games. New Orleans has yet to lose a home game in 2013, which means all 5 of their losses this season came on the road. Saturday's game will be played in Philadelphia, and following a snow storm projected to hit Pennsylvania by Friday, the conditions will be very poor come Saturday. Poor conditions will mean it will be difficult to throw the ball, which clearly gives Philadelphia the advantage seeing that their running back, LeSean McCoy, is superior to any running back on the Saints roster. McCoy won the rushing title in 2013, as he rushed for 1,607 yards on 314 carries. With the temperature close to freezing on Saturday, Chip Kelly will likely avoid throwing the ball and give McCoy at least 25 carries against the Saints. In the event that both teams will be passing the ball a lot, Philly will still be able to keep up with the Saints' high-flying passing attack. In games where Foles had 15 attempts or more, the Eagles are 9-2, and seeing that Foles has a 119.2 passer rating, New Orleans' defense will have their hands full throughout the game.
Eagles over Saints 20-14

Chargers @ Bengals: The San Diego Chargers were able to make the playoffs following an overtime victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, even though the NFL released a statement saying there should have been a penalty against the Chargers during Kansas City's potentially game winning field goal that they missed. Had there been a penalty on the play, Ryan Succop of the Chiefs would have likely made the easier kick, causing the Chargers to miss the playoffs all together; however, this did not happen, and Chargers will go up against the heavily favored Bengals on the road. Cincinnati is undefeated at home this season, where their offense averages 37.3 points per game, and their defense allows just 16.8 per game. San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers has improved in every major statistical category compared to his 2012 numbers, as he has thrown for 4,478 yards and 32 touchdowns for a passer rating of 105.5 in 2013. Even Ryan Matthews improved in 2013, where he was finally able to play in all 16 games for the first time in his 4 year career. The Chargers were 4-4 on the road this season, and quarterback Philip Rivers is 3-4 in the postseason. We predict the Bengals to win this one with ease.
Bengals over Chargers 27-10

49ers @ Packers: Sunday afternoon's game between the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers will be the best game that the Wild Card Round has to offer. The Green Bay Packers will look for revenge following San Francisco's dominant win over the Pack in in last year's playoffs. Last week, Aaron Rodgers returned to the starting lineup for the first time since November 4th, as he led Green Bay past Chicago in order to earn the fourth seed in the playoffs. Both teams are coming off of emotional victories, and this upcoming game will be a testament of their resilience following their emotionally draining victories in Week 17. The San Francisco 49ers are on a six game winning streak, where three of those wins came on the road. In the past three games, Colin Kaepernick has thrown five touchdown passes with no interceptions and an average of 236 passing yards per game. On the other hand, running back Frank Gore is coming off of his worst game of the season, where on thirteen carries he rushed for 14 yards with no touchdowns against the Cardinals. The Niners have relied heavily on their running game, and even though Gore was limited in the final game of the season, he can not be averaging 1.08 yards per carry in the playoffs. The last time these two teams played, the 49ers beat Green Bay in Week 1. We believe the same thing will happen this Sunday
49ers over Packers 30-23 (OT)

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