2013 NFL Wild Card Weekend: Saturday Game Previews

Though I don’t nearly as much about other NFL teams as I do about the Steelers, I’m going to try my hand at writing short previews and predictions for each playoff game this season.  It’s not like I have the Steelers to write about at the moment.  Plus, it’ll be fun when I pick every game wrong and you guys can all make fun of me! 

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Indianapolis Colts

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It’s hard not to like the story of the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs.  Coming off a 2-14 season, the Chiefs hired an ostracized coach and traded for an ostracized former first round quarterback.  And it worked.  The Chiefs started the season 9-0—that equaled their win total from the previous two seasons combined.  Andy Reid, Alex Smith, and a stellar defense have given Kansas City fans something to really get excited about.  (Side note:  Can you imagine the awesomeness if KC goes farther in the playoffs than either Philly or San Francisco?!)

Despite their great start to the year, the Chiefs have fallen off in the second half of the season.  They’ve lost 5 of their last 7 games.  Their second teamers played admirably against the Chargers, and it should have been enough to win the game (side note:  fuck you, officials).  In Week 16, the Chiefs played the Colts in Arrowhead and lost 23-7.  That does not bode well for playing the Colts in Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Colts are a tough team to figure out.  On the one hand, they’ve beaten the 49ers, Seahawks, and Broncos, all playoff teams and all early Super Bowl favorites.  On the other hand, they’ve lost to the Chargers, Dolphins, and the Rams (by 30 points, no less).

However, unlike the Chiefs, the Colts seem to be playing their best football right now.  They’ve won 5 of their last 7.  Andrew Luck has had a good season and continues to develop at the quarterback position.  He’s been successful without his #1 receiver, since Reggie Wayne got injured in October.

The Colts defense may not have the best stats, but they’re good.  Robert Mathis led the league sacks this with 19.5, in his eleventh season in the NFL.  Inside linebacker (and former CFL player) Jerrell Freeman has had a great season and he’ll be instrumental in stopping Jamaal Charles.  Oh, and Freeman did this a few weeks ago against the Chiefs:

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The Chiefs can put up some points, but the Colts showed just two weeks ago that they have the ability to contain the KC offense, even when Charles is running well.

This is going to be a really fun, close game to watch.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see either team win, but I think Indianapolis is playing better football right now and I have to give them the edge.  COLTS 28, CHIEFS 24

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New Orleans Saints vs. Philadelphia Eagles

I think I’m the only one who just isn’t buying the Eagles hype.  Seemingly everyone thinks this will not only be a win for the Eagles, but an easy one at that.  Has everyone forgotten this is the team that let the Matt Cassel-led Vikings put up 48 points just three weeks ago?  MATT CASSEL.  You know who’s a much better quarterback than Matt Cassel? Drew Brees.

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I don’t need elaborate how dangerous Brees is, especially with Jimmy Graham at his disposal.  Going up against the Eagles secondary should be a treat for the Saints offense.   Not to mention that New Orleans also has a pretty decent defense.  They’re ranked fourth in both yards allowed and points allowed.  Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette are both in the top 6 for sacks this season.  They have the second highest ranked pass defense in the league (miss you, Keenan Lewis!).  Even their losses have mostly been close games, with the lone exception being their loss to the Seahawks.

Yes, I know it’s going to be cold.  Yes, I know the Saints have a 3-5 record away from the Superdome this season.  Yes, Nick Foles and Chip Kelly deserve credit for what each has done this season.  But I think the outcome of this game will be determined by the Eagles defense…

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…which is exactly why I believe they will lose this game.   Philly’s defense has struggled and I don’t think they’ll fare well against Brees & Co.

The Eagles have benefitted from a weak schedule and a weak division.  They’ve defeated just two teams with winning records this season—the Cardinals and the 8-7-1 Packers (who were without Aaron Rodgers in the game against Philly).  They’ve also been beaten by the likes of the Vikings, Giants, and Cowboys (we Steelers fans know just how humiliating it is to lose to the Vikings).  Kelly and Foles deserve credit for what they’ve done this season, as does LeSeason McCoy, but the defense will be the Eagles downfall.  Philly’s one and done this year.  SAINTS 38, EAGLES 27

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