BY JOHN McALEAVEY | Okay, so we’ve just about navigated our way through the college football bowl season. Did you see that Raycom Media Camellia Bowl…me neither. Don’t worry, the college football playoff national championship is almost here. Monday night’s Clemson/Alabama game should be fun, but today’s blog entry previews this weekend’s NFL Wild Card four pack.
Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans – All hail the Chiefs! Really? Well, sort of. You see, after starting the season 1-5, Kansas City ran the table to finish 11-5. Ten game winning streaks are impressive yes, but when you dig a little deeper into just who they beat, you’ll see the opponents had a combined record of 67-93. So, they didn’t exactly run the gauntlet here. Andy Reid did lose his star running back, Jamaal Charles (in week 5), but he plugged in someone named Charcandrick West, and he has been very good. Alex Smith is fine and he targets Jeremy Maclin early and often. On Saturday, KC travels to play yet another team that is hardly stellar. Someone had to win the AFC South, and the Houston Texans did. Quick, can you name a Texan who isn’t J.J. Watt or DeAndre Hopkins? I’m sorry, but Brian Hoyer and Alfred Blue don’t scare me. I’ll take the Chiefs please, make it 11 in a row.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals – As of this writing it still looks like Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton will miss the game. He did have the cast removed from his throwing thumb, but his availability is listed as “highly unlikely”. If that is the case, than AJ McCarron will be under center as Cincy searches for its first playoff victory in 25 years. While AJ (McCarron) did hook up with A.J. (Green) for three touchdowns this season, I’m sure the Steelers will get a heavy dose of bruising running back, Jeremy Hill, to try and lessen the pressure on the rookie QB. I know DeAngelo Williams is banged up for Pittsburgh, but give me the team quarterbacked by a two-time Super Bowl champion. I will roll with Big Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, that guy is pretty good too. 🙂
Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings – This is the one I’m really looking forward to. Temperatures are supposed to hover around 0°, and any game that features player’s breath billowing from face masks is for me! They’ll play outdoor playoff football in Minnesota on Sunday for the first time in 39 years. The Vikes just beat the Packers to win the NFC North, and their reward for that accomplishment is…a surging Seahawks team that just annihilated the Arizona Cardinals in Zona. Because of the harsh elements predicted, it helps that both teams have excellent running games. Adrian Peterson is, well, the best in the sport. On the flip-side, Marshawn Lynch is no slouch, and Beast Mode is probably going to play despite his recent sports hernia surgery. That Pete Carroll has been in a million big games like this, and his defense is flexing its muscles again, are reasons enough to pick the Seahawks, but Russell Wilson is really, really good, and his play should move Seattle into round two.
Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins – I’m a Kirk Cousins believer (29 TD’s, 11 Int’s.). He wrested the job away from RG3 and has had a terrific season. Will his magic continue for a Washington team that won nine games? Well, the NFC East was a joke, and there is no John Riggins in his backfield, but have you watched the Packers play recently? Poor Aaron Rodgers has been running for his life due to a porous offensive line. Rumor has it he’s asked Adrian Martinez, the portly “Discount Double Check” dude from the State Farm commercials, to suit up and help keep him upright. Seriously, the Packers offense looks lost. Eddie Lacy is HUGE and can’t seem to break away from anyone, and is Randall Cobb still on the active roster? Who knew Jordy Nelson meant so much to this team? In the end, I will hold my nose here and side with the best player on the field…Rodgers and the Pack will somehow win in DC.
Looks like I’m a road warrior this Wild Card weekend. Enjoy the games gang!
And that is My 2 Sense for the first week of 2016.