NFL Wildcard Round Playoff Picks- AFC


It was an up and down season predicting games and divisions, but alas the postseason is finally here.  We have four games this weekend and the goal is to get every single one right.  We’ll see how far short we fall.

Kansas City vs. Houston

One streak is going to end by Saturday evening.  The AFC South champion Texans have won at least one playoff game every time they’ve qualified for the tournament.  They put that streak up against the Chiefs streak of postseason futility, as they haven’t won a playoff game since 1994 with Joe Montana at quarterback.

Something has to give.

The obvious: J.J. Watt can not be blocked by one individual human being and Alex Smith doesn’t turn the ball over.

The less obvious:  Alex Smith is one of the more athletic quarterbacks in football and Watt has been slowed down by quick/short passing offenses.

What we think will happen: It should be a low scoring game and Andy Reid should have some matchup advantages against the Texans defense.  On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs will force someone other than DeAndre Hopkins to beat them in the passing game and it’s not likely that Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer can do that.

Score prediction: Chiefs 20, Texans 13

Pittsburgh vs. Cincinnati

This could be the very best matchup of the entire weekend as there are so many different factors that can affect the outcome.  Each team has a major injury to deal with- the Bengals will be without quarterback Andy Dalton and the Steelers will be without DeAngelo Williams.

The obvious: Ben Roethlisberger is a much better quarterback than A.J. McCarron, and the Steelers defense is leaky at best.

The less obvious: Big Ben isn’t going head to head with McCarron, and any NFL quarterback should have a field day against the Steelers non-existent pass rush and slow-eyed secondary.  Roethlisberger has struggled mightily against the Bengals this season, while McCarron performed fairly well when being thrown into the fire in his first game against Pittsburgh.

What we think will happen: The Steelers will run a lot of no-huddle offense and they will throw the ball until Roethlisberger needs rotator cuff surgery.  McCarron is used to having a great team around him and being asked to do the minimum, he made it all the way through college that way and it’s the same thing here.

The Bengals will try to establish the running game to take pressure off McCarron, but the Steelers finished the regular season ranked fifth against the run.  They will force McCarron to push the ball down the field and he’ll either have a record-setting day or fail miserably.  It’s really difficult to bet on a Marvin Lewis led team in the postseason.

Score prediction: Steelers 27, Bengals 17


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.