The Chiefs are back, baby! After a sizzling start to the season, the Chiefs went through a major slump, before regaining their footing. Talk about streaky, the Chiefs started the year 5-0, then only won one 1 of their next 7, before winning their last 4. This team rides or dies with Alex Smith, who has played some of his best football this year. Formerly known as Captain Check Down, Smith has actually aired the ball out for the majority of the year, seeing great success. Him moving the ball down the field only helps Kareem Hunt and the Chiefs running game. This offense needs to be clicking in order to make a splash in the playoffs, as the Chiefs defense is less than stellar. Hunt may have trouble running early on against the Titans, who boast the league's 4th best run defense, but Smith should be able to move the ball down the field easily against a porous secondary, thereby opening up running holes for Hunt later in the game to ice it.
As far as the Titans go, I don't believe they're a playoff-quality football team... yet. They have some solid pieces, but need to improve defensively and see Mariota make that next step before they become contenders. I don't believe in him yet, and although he may post some decent stats against a bad Chiefs defense, I just don't see the Titans winning this game.
PREDICTION: Chiefs 31 Titans 23
What a story the Rams have been. The first team in forever to go from the worst point scorer to the top in just a year's time, the Rams are legit. McVay should be the clear-cut favorite for coach of the year, Goff looks like a competent quarterback, and Gurley bounced back from a disappointing season to be arguably the best RB in football, and in my opinion a legit MVP candidate. And oh yeah, they have Aaron Donald wreaking havoc on the other side of the ball.
You think the Falcons will be motivated for this game, huh? Their last taste in the playoffs saw them blow a 28-3 lead after all. They have something the Rams don't -- big time experience. Although the Rams are the more talented team in my opinion, the Falcons' experience and motivation will prevail in a nail-biter.
PREDICTION: Falcons 24 Rams 21
Man, the AFC is a joke. The Bills and Titans wouldn't sniff the playoffs in the NFC. Don't get me wrong, it is a great story for football, but the balance of power in the league clearly favors the NFC. This matchup features two very good defenses with inexperienced signal callers on both sides. I just don't know how the Bills will score in this game. Taylor is OK, but hasn't been in this position before, plus Shady is injured and they really have nothing behind him. And the Jags have an unbelievable secondary and can get after the quarterback. Also, the Bills suck at defending the run, and I could see Fournette having a 100+ yard afternoon. The Bills only chance in this ball game is forcing turnovers. And that's possible against Blake Bortles. Side note: I feel bad for Jags fans. They truly are magnificent defensively, have an underrated receiving corp and an all-pro potential back in Fourtnette, and they would be a Super Bowl contender, if not for Bortles.
PREDICTION: Jaguars 20 Bills 13
Who dat nation, despite being the four seed, is perhaps the favorite to come out of the NFC right now. They truly have it all: a HOF QB, two stud RBs, and a much-improved defense. The one thing that scares me about this team is the defense, though. This unit really hadn't changed a ton from the porous unit a year ago, and started off the year as just that: porous. Can we trust this unit to perform? I don't know. They have the offense to win it all, but the defense will have to get them there.
I like the Saints to win, as they are truly the better team. They may struggle to run the ball against the top run defense in the NFL, but their backs are still incredible as receivers, and Brees should be able to pick apart the Panthers secondary. Hopefully for Panthers fans, they will abandon the zone for more man-to-man D this game.
PREDICTION: Saints 30 Panthers 20