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Complete NFL Playoff Preview with Predictions from NFL Analyst, Nick Kosko

(Photo by: Mike Morbeck - Flickr)

(Photo by: Mike Morbeck – Flickr)

Have you ever watched a movie trailer on TV and say, “boy I cannot wait for that movie to come out?”

The anticipation is real and that movie won’t premiere until next summer, so you sit there anxiously waiting, looking for any type of information about the cast, plot, and yes, possible sequels.

The best thing about the NFL playoffs, they come every winter, not summer, and there are ALWAYS sequels. Weeks of them actually.

Saturday, January 7 will kickoff the 2016-17 season’s Wild Card Weekend and 12 teams will begin to battle it out for Super Bowl aspirations. Let’s take a dive and preview each wild card game and (try to) predict what will happen through Super Bowl LI…

AFC Wild Card: Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans (Saturday, 4:35 pm)

The Raiders are coming in with their third string quarterback, yes really. Rookie Connor Cook will get the start after injuries to Derek Carr and backup Matt McGloin. And yes, this is his first career start; it just happens to be on the road in the first round of the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Texans are going back to Brock Osweiler (sigh) due to backup turned starter Tom Savage being put into concussion protocol. Osweiler was benched because of his performance but will now be put into a spot to prove his $72 million worth.

So who wins arguably the worst game slated for the weekend? I never trusted the Texans and while Head Coach Bill O’Brien has gotten this team to the playoffs multiple times, they never seem to get out of their own way. The Raiders are still a talented team offensively, even without Carr and can outscore a poor Texans offense. As long as Oakland’s defense holds up, they should be able to get by the struggling Texans.

Prediction: Oakland 31 – Houston 10

NFC Wild Card: Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks (Saturday, 8:15 pm)

What happens when you are 9-4 but lose three straight games? Well you book a trip to Seattle for a wild card playoff game of course! The Lions were in some ways lucky to make the postseason considering the losing streak because the Redskins and Bucs could not muster a win or two to pass them in the standings.

So after losing the de facto NFC North Championship, Matthew Stafford and the Lions will go to the toughest place to win, Century Link Field in Seattle. Now, the Seahawks have been far from perfect lately. A struggling offensive line has failed to keep Russell Wilson clean from hits and the secondary isn’t quite the same without Earl Thomas, seeing how he was lost for the season due to injury.

What does this game bring? Likely more excitement than watching a game being played in Houston that is not the Super Bowl. The Lions have the potential to score a lot of points and are looking for their first postseason win since 1991. The Seahawks meanwhile, seem unbeatable at home, especially in the playoffs. They went 7-1 at home in the regular season and that theme will probably continue.

Prediction: Seattle 27 – Detroit 17

AFC Wild Card: Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday, 1:05 pm)

Will he or won’t he? Ryan Tannehill has a chance to return from his ACL and MCL sprain for this game but it is doubtful. Head Coach Adam Gase has not ruled it out but we will likely being seeing Matt Moore once again. Now, Moore has been pretty solid, going 2-1 in the games he has started but this is a whole new challenge. This is the first playoff game for Miami since 2008, so they could consider this season a success already. Can they get by Pittsburgh on the road? That will be quite the task.

The Steelers for the first time will have their ‘Big 3’ all starting at the same time in the postseason. Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and LeVeon Bell are a dangerous, high scoring combination. I would not be shocked to see the Dolphins put up a fight early on, considering they did beat the Steelers in Miami earlier this season with the help of Jay Ajayi running for over 200 yards and two TD.

However, seeing how Big Ben has the experience and all of his weapons, I can’t see the Dolphins winning this game on the road with their backup quarterback. Perhaps next year Miami.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 34 – Miami 20

NFC Wild Card New York Giants at Green Bay Packers (Sunday, 4:40 pm)

We have reached the Grand Daddy of them All. All right, well this isn’t the Rose Bowl but this is easily the most anticipated and enticing matchup of the weekend. Can Eli Manning go 3-for-3 in Lambeau field, taking out Aaron Rodgers twice in those games? It’s certainly possible because each time, the Giants have gotten hot at the right time. The first time it was a shocking overtime victory over Green Bay in what was Brett Favre’s last game as a Packer. The next was a dominating victory over the defending champions and Aaron Rodgers after the Packers went 15-1 in the regular season. What will this one bring?

Aaron Rodgers said the Packer would “run the table” and boy did they. Sitting at 4-6, experts claimed the Packers were done, finished. Not so fast my friends. The Packers won 6 in a row to win the division and will host a playoff game. The reward just happened to be playing their kryptonite, so to speak. The Giants rely on big plays on offense and their suffocating defense. The Packers will rely on Aaron Rodgers’ hot streak and a surprisingly really good defense to force Manning into many mistakes. This is a complete toss up despite how well the Packers are playing right now. You can never count out the Giants when coming in as an underdog in the playoffs. However, the third times the charm for the Packers in what would shape up as the most exciting game of the weekend.

Prediction: Packers 24 – Giants 21

The Rest of the Way

So now you have seen my picks for this weekend. I’ll give all you readers a little treat as well: the rest of my picks! I know this is thrilling for you. So here they are…

NFC Divisional: Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons

Seattle is a good at home, not that good on the road. The Falcons are hot, the Seahawks are not.

I kept it short and sweet for you because I think the Falcons have at least one win in them this postseason.

Prediction: Falcons 34 – Seahawks 27

AFC Divisional: Oakland Raiders at New England Patriots

I would have been inclined to possibly pick the Raiders in an upset in what would be a rematch of the “Tuck Rule” game but with no Derek Carr and if the Raiders even get to this point, will still have rookie Connor Cook playing on the road against Bill Belichick. No thank you. Also, Tom Brady is still on the Patriots roster since that “Tuck Rule” game.

Prediction: Patriots 35 – Raiders 13

AFC Divisional: Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs

The Steelers will be flying high with their offense and usually Andy Reid can give you a good one and done in the postseason. Not this time around. Tyreek Hill is a difference maker for the Chiefs. He is basically Reid’s new DeSean Jackson with his ability at receiver and return man. The Chiefs defense is also very capable of containing the Steelers. Kansas City’s home field doesn’t hurt either.

Prediction: Chiefs 28 – Steelers 20

NFC Divisional: Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys

Another marquee matchup featuring the Packers and an NFC East team. The Cowboys sport their 13-3 record, flashy rookies in Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot, and are playing at home in Jerry World, I mean Cowboys stadium. However, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are more experienced and I think this is finally where the rookie moments happen for Prescott and Elliot. However AGAIN, this is going to be a shootout and it will be extremely close.

Prediction: Packers 34 – Cowboys 31

NFC Championship: Green Bay at Atlanta

Another potential shootout. But in this case, I’d rather have Aaron Rodgers over Matt Ryan, although they are both MVP candidates.

Prediction: Packers 42 – Falcons 35

AFC Championship: Kansas City at New England

So Andy Reid and Bill Belichick go at it again in the postseason. The first time was Super Bowl XXXIX when New England edged Philadelphia 24-21 and most recently, the Patriots beat the Chiefs last season in the divisional round 27-20. Will Reid win game three? I don’t think so.

Prediction: Patriots 24 – Chiefs 20

Super Bowl LI: New England vs. Green Bay

We have arrived to Houston and Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers will FINALLY be facing off in a Super Bowl. I am expecting an epic quarterback showdown, an epic-coaching showdown between Belichick and Mike McCarthy, and an epic defensive battle all rolled into one. We have seen our fair share of classic Super Bowls this century and this one should be no different. However, the greatest quarterback of all time will win it in the end with…(BOLD PREDICTION TIME)…a game winning drive with only seconds remaining. Whoever has the ball last, should win the game.

Prediction: Patriots 28 – Packers 24

 

Did you enjoy this? I’m sure you did. Be sure to check back next week when I change EVERYTHING due to being wrong.

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Nick is an NFL Analyst at DoubleGSports.com as well as the Philadelphia Soul Beat Writer.
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