Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith, Andy Reid, Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger, Cole Beasley, Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys, Dez Bryant, Ezekiel Elliott, Green Bay Packers, James Harriosn, Jason Witten, Jordy Nelson, Justin Houston, Kansas City Chiefs, Le'Veon Bell, NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill
Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboy lost Tony Romo in pre-season to a fractured vertebrae, and rookie quarterback Dak Prescott stepped into the void and looked comfortable from the get go. Operating behind what is widely regarded as the best offensive line in the league he and fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott helped the Cowboys get the number one seed behind their stellar play. As the season went on Prescott was able to increase his grasp of the offence and with a combination of the way Elliott ran the ball and Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and Cole Beasley as receiving options, the Cowboys are formidable opponents for the Packers in this game. However, whilst the offence stands every chance of moving the ball on the Packers, the defence has been more of an issue. They do not have the pass rush of the similarly constructed Falcons, but do rank better by overall defensive DVOA. However, they face a really tough matchup in the Packers offence
The Packers come into this game as one of the hottest teams in the NFL having turned a 4-6 record into a 10-6 division win and running out easy winners against the Giants last week. The defence has been battling injuries in the secondary for most of the season, and although they were ranked number one against the run at one point, are another unit in the playoffs that ranks a fair bit worse than their offence. The offence lost Jordy Nelson early last week who will not make this game due to his fractured ribs, but Aaron Rodgers has found his rhythm with his receiving group during this win streak and so will remain dangerous in the passing game. Rodgers has an uncanny ability to move and keep a play alive and is back to throwing receivers open and looking is looking like the best quarterback in the league.
This is not a game I want to predict, the Cowboys can likely dominate the time of possession with the run game and protect their defence, which has been the game plan for most of the season, but Rodgers does not need a lot of opportunities to produce points. This could very well be game of the week, and I for one am heartily looking forward to it.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have been quietly racking up the regular season wins for a season and a half now, and welcome the Steelers to the loudest outdoor stadium in the league.
A lot of jokes have been made about Andy Reid’s clock management over the years, but he is an incredibly good coach whose football teams have won a lot of games. His quarterback has the reputation of a game manager, but Alex Smith gets the job done and is capable of spreading the ball around as required as well as moving the ball with his feet. The Chiefs’ leading receiver this year was Travis Kelce, who will be going up against a defence ranked thirteenth in the league against tight ends by DVOA. However, the emergence of Tyreek Hill as a big player receiver as well as special teams returner has added another dimension to the Chiefs, but he is not the only speed option they have on offence. The Chiefs’ defence has been good rather than outstanding, and has missed Justin Houston to injury for much of the year, although Houston has flashed when he did get on the field and the Chiefs will hope that he plays on Sunday.
The Steelers got an easy win against the Dolphins last week as Antonio Brown stole the game in the first quarter. They will expect that Le’Veon Bell will be able to rack up the runs against a rush defence that ranked twenty-sixth in the league against the run by DVOA, and that could be enough to win them the game with the way Bell has been playing this season. He has needed to be this good as Ben Roethlisberger has struggled at times, and the quarterback left the stadium in a walking boot last week but will be playing this week. The Steelers’ defence played very well against the Dolphins, with the seemingly ageless James Harrison making his presence felt along with the other Steelers linebackers. This is not the same style of defence as in recent years, and they started the year struggling a little, but finished the year just outside the top ten by DVOA and have been very solid in their new cover 2 look.
This is another game that is hard to predict as both teams have been competitive all year, but if feels like the Chiefs have been more consistent all year and are home so I would give them the edge, but this feels like a second toss up game.