NFL Playoffs: Wildcard Round 1

Photograph Credit: Peter Diana/Post-Gazette
Photograph Credit: Peter Diana/Post-Gazette

Well, that escalated quickly.

The NFL playoffs began this past weekend with the Wildcard Round and boy, was it good. No matter who you were rooting for, you got a good game… Minus Texans fans. Saturday gave us some hard hitting AFC matchups while Sunday hosted the NFC. The first round of the playoffs picked up right where the regular season ended and ramped up the intensity.

Kansas City Chiefs 30, Houston Texans 0

Saturday began with a battle of bruising defenses  – or so we thought. The Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans faced off in Houston in what was supposed to be a tightly contested defensive struggle. In reality, it became a blowout of fairly epic proportions for the playoffs. The Chiefs opened up an early lead and never looked back on their way to a 30-0 drubbing of the Texans. Knile Davis took the opening kickoff to the house for KC and that would have been enough to get it done as the Chiefs defense overwhelmed Brian Hoyer and forced four interceptions.

Pittsburgh Steelers 18, Cincinnati Bengals 16

Following that game, we got the rubber match between the Bengals and the Steelers. This was expected to be a gritty, knock-down, drag-out fight to the end and it absolutely was. It was tightly contested all the way through the second half and just as they were about get their first playoff win in just about forever, the Bengals collapsed mentally and gave the game away on back to back personal foul penalties that gave the Steelers a last second field goal. It was a collapse for the ages.

Seattle Seahawks 10, Minnesota Vikings 9

Next we go Sunday’s matchups of the Vikings hosting the Seahawks and the Packers traveling to the Redskins. We go from one last second choke-job to another… It was brutally, brutally cold in Minnesota on Sunday and it showed during the game. No one was able to produce much offense until the temperatures rose back toward zero at the end of the game. We’ll pick it up on the final drive of the game where the Vikings are pushing down field to take the lead as time winds down. As it had all game long, the offense sputtered and the Vikings were forced to kick the field goal. Blair Walsh, who was three for three on the day, approached, planted, struck the ball…. and hooked it left. Everyone has been letting Walsh have it the past day or so, but I think the real question here is: Where was the franchise cornerstone? Where was Adrian Peterson?

Green Bay Packers 35, Washington Redskins 18

Finally, the final game of the weekend was Captain Kirk Cousins and the Redskins hosting the Packers. Where we opened the weekend with a blowout and followed it with two nail-biters, this game fell right in between the two. It was close and competitive for 3 quarters or so and the Packers began to pull away. As terrible as they’ve looked at times in the second half of the season, they reminded everyone on Sunday that they are still in fact, the Green Bay Packers. And they still have Aaron Rodgers. Cousins and Washington played admirably, but it simply wasn’t enough to get it done this year.

So, we have an entirely new slate of four games coming this weekend in the Divisional Round. The Broncos with Peyton Manning at the helm will play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers who will potentially be without Big Ben Roethlisberger. Next up, the ailing New England Patriots will get a visit from the scorching hot Kansas City Chiefs – though they may be without top receiver Jeremy Maclin. The NFC gives us the Carolina Panthers hosting the Seattle Seahawks in what looks to be one of the best matchups of the year and the Packers will get a shot at revenge when they travel to Arizona to take on the Cardinals. So… Who ya got?

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