Nik’s Picks: NFL Playoffs

Super+Bowl+50+will+be+held+on+February+7%2C+2016+in+Levis+Stadium%2C+Santa+Clara%2C+CA.+Photo+courtesy+of+www.safemanagement.net

Super Bowl 50 will be held on February 7, 2016 in Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA. Photo courtesy of www.safemanagement.net

Nik Popli, News Editor

The race to Super Bowl 50 begins with the NFL playoffs this week. Here’s a look at another edition of “Nik’s Picks: NFL Playoffs!”

Wild Card Round Predictions:

Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans: Chiefs win

The first game of Wild Card weekend is between the Chiefs and Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston. The Chiefs have been on quite a roll as of late, winning 10 straight games to enter the playoffs. The Texans surprisingly rallied their way into the 4th seed with a 9-7 record, though their inconsistent play at Quarterback is going to be a big question mark against one of the league’s best pass-rush defenses. Chiefs 24, Texans 13

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals: Steelers win

The Bengals are without Quarterback Andy Dalton once again and the Steelers’ deadly dynamic duo between QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR Antonio Brown could simply be too much for the Bengals to handle. This Wild Card matchup will be the third time this season the two teams face off against each other, splitting the season series evenly. Steelers 24, Bengals 17

Seattle Seahawks @ Minnesota Vikings: Seahawks win

The Vikings won their first division title since 2009, finally breaking the Green Bay Packers’ long reign, but do they have what it takes to beat the defending NFC Champs? While the Seahawks had a rough 2-4 start to the year, they dominated down the stretch and are expected to get Marshawn Lynch back this week. When these teams met in Week 13, Seattle ran all over Minnesota, winning 38-7. The Seahawks have caught fire at the right moment and are clearly favorites to win this matchup. Seahawks 30, Vikings 16

Green Bay Packers @ Washington Redskins: Redskins win

The Packers are limping into the playoffs with a 4-6 finish after starting the season 6-0, while the Redskins are riding high on a four-game winning streak. Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is not looking like his usual self and the offense is clearly taking a hit because of it. Although the Redskins do not have as much playoff experience as the Packers and Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins is having one of the greatest seasons at quarterback in Redskins history. After shouting “You Like That!” at reporters on October 25, Cousins has gone 7-3 with 23 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions. The Redskins haven’t won a playoff game since 1999, but have a legitimate shot at taking down the Packers in their home stadium. Redskins 24, Packers 20

 

Divisional Round Predictions:

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Denver Broncos: Broncos win

The last time these two teams faced in the playoffs, Tim Tebow was running off the field celebrating for the Broncos. This time, Peyton Manning will be the one celebrating. After being benched for six weeks, the future Hall of Famer is going to need a little redemption for his struggles early on in the season. The Steelers are in the playoffs with an injured offense that will probably not be able to take down the Broncos defense. Broncos 27, Steelers 23

Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots: Patriots win

The Chiefs have been rolling on offense and defense and look pretty hard to take down. But Tom Brady can play well against any defense. The Chiefs have a sneaky and unpredictable offensive play style that has gotten them to eleven straight wins. However, I would like to note that only three of those eleven wins were against winning/playoff teams. The Chiefs have a lot of energy but the Patriots are simply too much for them to handle. Tom Brady will find a way to win in Gillette Stadium. Patriots 23, Chiefs 17

Seattle Seahawks @ Carolina Panthers: Panthers win

This matchup leading to the NFC Championship game is going to be very intense. The Seahawks and Panthers are playing with so much confidence that it’s hard to predict who will win this high-stake game. For the Panthers, everything is going their way. But the Seahawks are also catching fire at the right moment. Could they rally into the playoffs and beat the 15-1 Panthers in Charlotte? It should be close. Panthers 31, Seahawks 26

Washington Redskins @ Arizona Cardinals: Redskins win

The Arizona Cardinals have been one of the most consistent and balanced teams in the NFL this year. That said, their 24-point loss against the Seahawks in week 17 is a little concerning. The Cardinals have the potential to make it to Super Bowl 50, but if the Redskins bring their A game and don’t commit any turnovers, they could get in their way. When Kirk Cousins is on top of his game, the Redskins are an elite football team. The Redskins defense is not the greatest, but they could cause some trouble for Carson Palmer if they start the game fast. This game might actually be closer than it looks. Washington’s offense is loaded with Jordan Reed and DeSean Jackson. Kirk Cousins will lead the Skins to an upset victory over the 2-seeded Cardinals. Redskins 27, Cardinals 23 

 

Conference Champions Predictions:

Denver Broncos @ New England Patriots: Patriots win

Ah, another Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady matchup in the playoffs. Neither of these guys gets fazed by the big lights of the postseason. But the big question is: Which Patriots team will we see? For the first 10 weeks, they were the league’s best team. For the last six, they didn’t even look like a playoff team, mostly because of injuries. If the Patriots can stay healthy, they could probably repeat, but their depleted offensive line is going to be facing a tough Broncos defensive unit. Will Tom Brady be able to overcome these obstacles? Patriots 24, Broncos 16

Washington Redskins @ Carolina Panthers: Panthers win

The Panthers have an intimidating, versatile defense, a variety of weapons on offense, and one of the best coaches in football right now. Those are some very important qualities of championship teams. I’m giving Carolina the edge with home field advantage. The Redskins just simply do not have the experience to make it to the Super Bowl. Panthers 30, Redskins 20

 

Super Bowl 50 Prediction:

New England Patriots vs. Carolina Panthers: Panthers win

Carolina’s MVP QB and underrated receivers will get revenge for their loss in Super Bowl XXXVIII. The Patriots’ offensive line is going to be weak by the time they reach the final game having played against the Chiefs and Broncos defensive units. It’s also a lot to ask of Cam Newton and the Panthers to take down the Seahawks, Cardinals, AND Patriots, but it’s hard picturing the Panthers losing a game in February given the way they played this year. Panthers 33, Patriots 24