NFL

Who Do The NFL’s Top Seeds Want To Win This Weekend?

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The NFL Playoffs open on Saturday with the Wildcard Round with four games spanning the spectrum of interest from Raiders-Texans (rather do house chores) to Giants-Packers (skip your anniversary dinner).

What about the four teams that are sitting out this weekend?  We’re going to focus on who each of those teams should be rooting for, despite the usual answers of “it doesn’t matter” and “we need to beat everyone to win a championship anyway.”

New England Patriots

Game 1- Oakland Raiders vs. Houston Texans

The outcome of this game doesn’t matter all that much for the Patriots, because if they take on the winner they will be playing either Connor Cook or Brock Osweiler.  That’s not going to keep Bill Belichick up at night.  Although it’s certainly difficult to imagine either of these teams going into Foxboro and winning, Oakland would probably be the best choice for the Pats based on the caliber of their defense and quarterback situation.

Game 2- Miami Dolphins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Everyone in the AFC wants the Steelers out of the postseason.  The only team anyone wants to see less of is New England.  The Steelers have a future Hall of Fame quarterback and one of the most explosive offenses in football, while their defense has played better during the second half of the season.  The Patriots would much rather play the Dolphins for the third time this season, as they handled them twice already.

Kansas City Chiefs

Game 1- Oakland Raiders vs. Houston Texans

This game isn’t going to mean a whole lot for the Chiefs as they would need the Dolphins to win Sunday’s game to play the winner.  Kansas City lost to Houston early in the season but beat Oakland twice this year.  Given the opportunity, the Chiefs would rather play Houston being that Oakland is a division opponent and it’s difficult to beat a team three times in one season.  To put it simply, nobody’s afraid of Brock Osweiler beating them twice.

Game 2- Miami Dolphins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Just like the Patriots, the Chiefs want no part of the Steelers in the divisional round.  Pittsburgh would likely be favored in the game even at Arrowhead, and the Steelers would have a significant advantage at the quarterback position.  There are only two teams that can beat the Chiefs in the AFC playoffs, and one of the them is Pittsburgh.

Dallas Cowboys

Game 1- Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks

Without a doubt, the Cowboys would love to avoid a matchup with the Seahawks.  Even though Seattle is a much different team away from home, they have championship pedigree and an elite quarterback.  The Lions played a game at Dallas just two weeks ago and the Cowboys had nothing to play for and handled them easily.  They’d love to see a rematch.

Game 2- New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers

This is a much more difficult call for the Cowboys as they will likely face the winner of this game (being that Seattle is a heavy favorite).  The Packers have what many believe to be the league MVP in Aaron Rodgers and have won six in a row (a win on Sunday would be seven straight victories).  Meanwhile, the Giants have defeated the Cowboys twice this season and those are the only two games they’ve lost that they actually tried to win.  Neither is a particularly good matchup for top-seeded Dallas but in this instance, they’re probably going to want a third shot at New York.  Both of the games could have gone Dallas’ way and the Giants offensive line issues could mean a huge day for David Irving.

Atlanta Falcons

Game 1- Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks

The Atlanta Falcons should have a different outlook regarding this game than the Dallas Cowboys.  It’s not so much that Detroit is a better team than Seattle- it’s about matchups- and Seattle is a better matchup for the Falcons than playing either the New York Giants or Green Bay Packers.  The Giants strength in their defense and secondary matches the Falcons strength.  The last time that Atlanta hosted Aaron Rodgers in a playoff game, he ran them out of the building (although that would be a better matchup than the Giants).  The Falcons will take their chances with Seattle, a team they’ve already defeated in the postseason just a few years ago.

Game 2- New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers

If the Detroit Lions were to pull off the road upset in Seattle, the Atlanta Falcons would play the winner of this game.  The Giants would be a more difficult matchup for Atlanta, based on the strength of their defense and a big game quarterback like Eli Manning.  Although nobody wants to see Aaron Rodgers and company on a fast track, their secondary won’t provide a lot of resistance for the Falcons passing attack.

 

 


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.