After 17 weeks of good, bad, boring and amazing matches, the wild card weekend, gave us quite a taste of what’s to come with NFL Divisional Round. We were able to witness the first playoff shutout since 2005. Also, the first time that all four road teams win their respective games. As unpredictable as the next round could be, the 8 remaining teams have proved, one way or the other, not only that they are these season’s elite, but also that all of them have good chances of making a spot into the Super Bowl 50. Let’s take a look at what each team will bring to the contest starting with Saturday’s matches.
Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots: 4:35 p.m. ET on CBS
Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 4 / Record: 12-5
Chiefs arrive to the Divisional Round in a great moment. With a 10-win streak and not losing a game since mid-October, a motivated Kansas City reaches this phase with a 12-5 record.
Kansas City defense has proved to be one tough line, getting 45 sacks during the regular season and 3 more at the 30-0 victory against the Texans. Nonetheless, during the wild card game, the Chiefs only scored two touchdowns. Only five clubs in the NFL gained fewer total yards than Kansas City, a team that ranked 30th in the league in passing offense this season.
It is true that Alex Smith is one of the best running quarterbacks in the league, but he’s been on a bad streak with four interceptions in his last three games. This forces them to improve their air strikes if they want to beat the Patriots. On the other hand, top wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, might be added to the injury list, which already has star back Jamaal Charles and starting center Mitch Morse.
New England Patriots
Last Week: 5 / Record: 12-4
Who will be on the field next Saturday, is Bill Belichick’s squad, main question. After a 10-0 start the Patriots have suffered a wide list of injuries, becoming its biggest concern all season. However, it its expected that these two weeks rest should have allowed Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Sebastian Vollmer, Donta’ Hightower, Rob Gronkowski, Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty to recover.
The Patriots struggled in December to protect Tom Brady, who has been sacked 38 times in 2015. Now they will have to protect him against the NFL’s best scoring defense of the last three months. Regardless of these stats, New England’s star quarterback owns a 21-8 record in the postseason as a starter and has thrown for more yards and more scores than any player in playoff history. – Stats kind of hard to ignore.
Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals: 8:15 p.m. ET on NBC
Last Week: 12 / Record: 11-6
In this matchup, both teams arrived in pretty different circumstances, and even though many consider “a disadvantage” the fact that the Packers will only have 6 days of rest, they may be in a better spot than the Cardinals. Arizona comes not only from a 30-point home loss to the Seahawks in their season finale, but have also been out of competition for two weeks. Of course, this time is well used for training, resting and fixing any minor detail before the next game. However, Green Bay is coming off a breakout performance on offense against the Redskins and they have their engine already warmed up and running.
Even though had a slow start last game against Washington, the Packers totaled 35 points—their highest since Week 3. However, it is impossible to ignore that Green Bay dropped six of their final 10 games after a 6-0 start. Also, the fact that Rodgers was sacked a combined 13 times in the season-ending losses to the Cardinals and Vikings. Eight of those sacks came in the 38-8 loss at Arizona.
Last week: 2 / Record: 13-3
Probably Cardinals’ biggest motivation is their last game against the Packers at Arizona, where they beat Green Bay 38-8, three weeks ago. Nonetheless, a rematch usually is a powerful motivator as well, and at these circumstances experience might play a huge role.
The Cardinals have won six of their seven home games before failing to show up for that finale against Seattle. On their last game against Packers, Arizona defensive line, was able to sack Rodgers nine times. They also have a powerful and accurate air strike with receivers Michael Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown. – Three of the best wide outs in the league.