It starts tonight. The NFL playoffs will finally comence with four Wild Card games over the span of two days. Many surprise and strong teams entered the playoffs this year, so it should be good.
Tonight the playoffs begin with the Titans heading to Kansas City. This either will be a complete blowout or a game coming down to the wire.
Demarco Murray is not playing this game. Derrick Henry has to fill that void again if the Titans want to even have a chance.
Mike Mularkey is playing for his job if you didn’t know. Ian Rapoport announced Mularkey’s job is in jeopardy. I don’t think he’s been a bad coach for them. He’s coached two full seasons and went 9-7 in both, so really not that bad. He’s been able to do something which two other coaches haven’t done with this team and that’s getting to the playoffs. Jeff Fisher was the last coach to do this, and that was in 2008.
I think we all have seen what the Chiefs (5th offense in the league) have been able to do. Alex Smith is putting up the best numbers of his career (4,042 passing yards, 26 TDs, 5 INTs). Kareem Hunt was this year’s leading rusher. They have the offense with Tyreek Hill (1,183 yards, 7 TDs) to take down the Titans, although they stumbled a bit in the middle of the season.
So the Titans really have a lot to play for today. Mike Mularkey coaching for his job. Mariota still seems to have to prove himself. Derrick Henry has to show he can be your main running back. The Titans can choose how they want to use all of this. They can either use it to fire them up, or tear them apart. We should see this early in today’s game as they are playing an experienced Chiefs team (coached by Andy Reid). I do think the Chiefs will come away with the win, just because the Titans (23rd defense in the league) don’t have enough to stop them.
The second AFC game will be the Bills at the Jaguars and I really don’t know how to feel about this.
So these are both very inexperienced teams. Neither has a lot of veteran players to help them out.
We don’t know what the energy levels will be like. Both teams could be fired up for being in the playoffs after such a long time or the Jags could continue losing games, after losing two to the 49ers and the Titans, and the Bills might not be able to spark their offense enough to face the Jags defense. It’s a toss up when it comes to the spiritual parts of the game.
Now it comes to the skill level.
A team hasn’t ridden their defense in the playoffs since the 2001 Ravens, and if there is a team that can do that, it’s the Jaguars. We all know what this Jags defense has done to elite teams being led by Jalen Ramsey, Calais Campbell, and Yannick Ngakoue. That might be all the Jags need to face the Bills, unless Bortles pulls a Bortles.
We all know Bortles as a turnover machine. Although he has been much better this season, he has been known to choke. Bortles could easily be the deciding factor in this game, and it’s up to him on whether he can capitalize.
So I don’t see the either the Titans or Bills winning these games. I’m sorry, but that’s not happening (although I have been known to be wrong on all my predictions). Even if one of them did win, they would get run over by either the Pats or Steelers. I think the matchups will be Chiefs at Pats and Jaguars at Steelers.
Many might think the Chiefs might be able to upset the Pats. I don’t think so. New England does not lose to the same team twice in a season, especially if they’re in Foxborough. It’s just not the Belichick way. It will come down to the defenses I think. The offenses are both high powered and it will be down to the defenses to win the battle. The Pats have the 29th defense. The Chiefs have the 28th defense. Pretty much equal, so with the better offense and Belichick, I have the Pats. I will admit an upset is completely possible if you take into consideration the chemistry issues with Belichick, Brady, and Kraft.
Jags at Steelers. These teams have a top five defense. Though, the Steelers have a much better offense. A VERY experienced team with Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell is better than the Bortles led Jags offense. And the Jags aren’t experienced. At all. Playing in Pittsburg, I have the Steelers.
Now, if everything I just said happens, it will be the Steelers at the Patriots (obviously a matchup everyone is anticipating). This is a complete toss up in my opinion. It just depends how well the Steelers are playing coming into Foxborough. And if they have Antonio Brown. And if the Pats can clear up their management issues. A lot of factors, but being a Pats fan, I have the Pats going to the Super Bowl. But like I said before, a toss up.