Here are my predictions for the second round of the playoffs.
KANSAS CITY (5) VS NEW ENGLAND (2)
This might be one of the best games of the year. The New England Patriots get their first crack in the playoffs at defending their title against a Chiefs team that is so well-rounded. Of course, the Chiefs don’t feature an explosive offense but because they are so meticulous in moving the ball down the field without turning the ball over, that makes them so dangerous. Alex Smith is playing well and the passing game with Travis Kelce is looking good. This is what will be the key for the Chiefs.
The defense will have a big task trying to stop Tom Brady and the Patriots offense. The pass rush will be the key in flustering Brady. But if Brady has the time in the pocket, expect to see him dissect the Chiefs secondary. Will Rob Gronkowski go off for a big game? We will see.
Both teams will have to rely on a strong running game to keep the momentum of the game on their side. The team that can establish that early, and with solid field position through special teams, will have the edge in the game.
The experience from the Patriots’ side of the ball will be the difference in what I expect to be a close game.
PATRIOTS WIN 27-24
GREEN BAY (5) VS ARIZONA (2)
We might be in for a big offensive showdown. The Packers were an enigma for the second half of the season but their wild card win showed that they might have finally start clicking at the right time. The offense will still try to get the ball rolling with Eddie Lacy and the 1-2 punch with James Starks could make this team dangers. The big question is still whether or not Aaron Rodgers can effectively move the ball. A lot will be on the shoulders of Randall Cobb and James Jones helping this pass attack flourish.
But that can easily be countered with the Cardinals’ passing attack. Carson Palmer is playing well and the receiving tandem of Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd makes them dangerous. The running attack isn’t that established (with some spurts every now and then), so the Packers secondary will be tested big time.
The biggest key to this game is how both sides wisely control the clock and limit the opportunities for the opposition. I’m not expecting a repeat of their meeting in the regular season — it should be closer. The Cardinals are rested and have been playing better, which gives them the edge.
CARDINALS WIN 34-30