NFL Playoffs: AFC Wild Card Previews and Predictions
The 2017 playoffs are upon us, starting with the wild card round this weekend. Four games, eight teams, and tons of anticipation in the build up to the first elimination games of the season(other than the Redskins being eliminated last week).
We don't need to mention history, and what happened between these teams during their matchups in previous seasons. We're focusing on the now, and how the teams are looking heading into these crucial games. So let's have a look at where we are, and who we think will be moving on to the next round in the AFC.
Oakland Raiders vs Houston Texans
Probably the weakest game on the schedule, but these are the games that end up being the most exciting, so we hope. The Raiders are reeling after losing starting quarterback Derek Carr, and are now down to their third string quarterback Connor Cook, after second string quarterback Matt McGloin got injured last week. Cook will be making his first start in the NFL. In fact, Cook will become the first NFL quarterback in the Super Bowl era to make his first start in the league in a postseason game. Not good.
The Texans have their own quarterback issues as Brock Osweiler is back at the helm after being benched for Tom Savage, who is now out with a concussion.
Both will need to rely on their run game and defense, and get just enough mistake free production out of their quarterbacks to give them the edge. It's a tough one to call, but with the Texans at home, and the Raiders suffering from post-Carr syndrome, and starting a rookie quarterback, it's not looking good for Oakland, even though they beat Houston 27-20 earlier this season(with a healthy Carr). Pick: Texans: 26-17.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Miami Dolphins
These two also met this season, with the Dolphins winning 30-15. But this will be a totally different set of circumstances. For one, the Steelers will be at home, where Big Ben seems to excel and play his best football. Roethlisberger has been average and inconsistent on the road this season. So that should be a big factor.
The Dolphins will also be without their starting quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, so they must turn to their nine year veteran Matt Moore, who has never taken a post season snap. Miami will have to rely on running back Jay Ajayi who decimated the Steelers for over 200 yards in their previous matchup.
Miami's defense is also banged up, missing five starters last week. Even if they are available, the Steelers have just too much firepower, and if they can contain Ajayi, it could be a long day for the Dolphins. Pick: Steelers 27-13.
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