NFC Wild Card Round

Detroit Lions vs Seattle Seahawks

The Detroit Lions are heading into Seattle in hope that they can win their first playoff game since 1991, which is the second longest drought in NFL history. The Lions will be led by their offense and Matthew Stafford. Although the Detroit offense has not been dynamic, Stafford has led the most 4th quarter/Overtime comebacks in NFL history. When Detroit has needed Stafford to make the important plays, he has frequently succeeded and that is the reason why the Lions are in the playoffs. Outside of the recent success by Zach Zenner, the Lions have had no consistent running game to rely on . Stafford has been forced to rely on short and intermediate passes, especially since the Lions no longer have Calvin Johnson to stretch the field. However, their passing attack has been very successful with multiple weapons such as Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, Eric Ebron, Anquan Boldin, and Theo Riddick. Due to the Seahawks’ defensive line and the absence of Earl Thomas, the Lions will be passing early and often. If the Lions are going to have any chance at upsetting the Seahawks in CenturyLink Field, Matthew Stafford is going to need to play the game of his career and the defense will need to contain Russell Wilson. The Lions will have difficulty stopping the Seahawks because they have ranked in the middle of the league throughout the season in points and yards allowed per game.  The Lions are going to need to big performances from their best pass rusher Ezekiel Ansah and their best defensive back Darius Slay in order to slow down a potentially dynamic Seattle offense.

Although the Seahawks are the heavy favorites in their spout with the Lions, especially at home in front of the 12th Man, they cannot take the Lions for granted if they are going to advance to the Divisional Round. Over the past two seasons, the Seahawks have been one of the most erratic teams in entire league. One week the Seahawks look like the team that won the Super Bowl while another week they look like a borderline playoff team. The biggest reason for this sporadic play is their offensive line and inability to protect Russell Wilson or establish a consistent running attack. When the Seahawks’ offensive line plays well, Russell Wilson is able to scramble in the backfield and find Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham down the field for big gains. Although the Seahawks should be able to defeat the Lions’ defense solely with their passing attack, they need to have Thomas Rawls start playing at a high level if they are going to advance far in the playoffs. While the offense can be dynamic, Seattle is led by their stout defense, which still rank as one of the top three defenses in the league. Even though they do not have All-Pro safety Earl Thomas, the Seahawks still possess some of the most talented defensive stars such as Kam Chancellor, KJ Wright, Bobby Wagner, Richard Sherman, and Michael Bennett. The Seahawks should be able to leverage their talent on defense and Russell Wilson’s ability to win and move onto the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

Score: Seattle wins 24-13

New York Giants vs Green Bay Packers

The matchup between the Giants and Packers is by far the most compelling and interesting this weekend. The last time the Packers played the Giants in the playoffs at home was the legendary game in 2008, in which the Giants were able to win on a Lawrence Tynes’ field goal in overtime to advance to the Super Bowl. Similar to the last contest, the weather should be a factor because of the cold in the “Frozen Tundra”. The Giants have looked like the teams that have won Super Bowls in the past because Eli remains one of the most clutch quarterbacks in the league and the defense has the ability to carry the team on the road. While the Giants do not possess a consistent running game, Paul Perkins, a rookie, has been emerging as a factor over the past few games as they have finally decided to give him more touches. Perkins’ contributions will only help Manning attempt to pick apart a weak Packers’ defense. The Giants have a strong set of receivers around Manning such as Odell Beckham Jr, Sterling Shepard, Victor Cruz, and Rashad Jennings. The Giants will be looking to feed OBJ the ball because he is one of the most dynamic players in the league and can take a 10 yard screen and make it into a 60 yard TD. Along with the offense, the defense has significantly improved from last season. The defense has talent all around the field with JPP, Landon Collins, Damon Harrison, Olivier Vernon, and Janoris Jenkins. The Giants will need to apply pressure on Rodgers and force him into errant passes if they are going to stop the Packers.

Merely 6 weeks ago, it looked like the Packers were not going to make the playoffs and certainly not going to host a playoff game. However, after 6 straight wins, they are the hottest team in the NFL and ready to make a playoff run. The difference for the Packers has been the reemergence of Aaron Rodgers. Over the past 6 games, Rodgers has been by far the best quarterback in the entire league because he has stopped committing turnovers while throwing for more yards and touchdowns. Since the emergence of Ty Montgomery as a running back, the Packers have been able to attack teams by throwing and passing the ball. Along with Montgomery, Davante Adams, Jordy Nelson, and Randall Cobb have been dynamic options because they all have the ability to make big plays around the line of scrimmage and down the field. While the Packers’ offense has taken many leaps forward, the defense remains very streaky and is the major reason why they may not win the Super Bowl. They have questions all over the field because they cannot consistently rush the passer with only an aged Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews, Nick Perry. In addition, the secondary has question marks, especially with the potential loss of Quinten Rollins. Although the Packers’ defense has question marks, Aaron Rodgers and the offense will be too much for the Giants and they will advance to play America’s team in Big D.

Score: Packers win 31-27

 

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