The Road To U.S. Bank

AFC Wild Card

(5) Tennessee Titans at (4) Kansas City Chiefs– I don’t think anybody expected the Chiefs to get back to the playoffs, especially with how they struggled after getting off to such a strong start earlier in the year that saw them stun the Patriots in week one. They stopped the bleeding and closed out the regular season on a three-game winning streak. They’ve gone back to the basics which consists of being aggressive in the passing game by taking those shots down the field, spreading the ball around and the defense has been getting off the field in a timely manner. Here they are once again as the champions of the AFC West. The last time the Tennessee Titans made the playoffs, it was in 2008, they got off to a 10-0 start with Kerry Collins as their starting quarterback and they were the one seed with a 13-3 record and fell short to the Baltimore Ravens. Here they are with Marcus Mariota under center, a nice ground game with Murray when he’s healthy and Derrick Henry and a defense that can turn up the physicality when needed.

(6) Buffalo Bills at (3) Jacksonville Jaguars– So, if any of you told me that at the beginning of the year that you had either one of these teams making the playoffs or even winning their division, you need to report here and show me that because you’re good if you did. Both these teams are snapping playoff droughts. The Bills haven’t played January football since 1999 and the Jaguars haven’t been here in a full decade. This is an interesting quarterback battle between Tyrod Taylor and Blake Bortles and these two teams each pride themselves on running the football. This could be an old-school, physical showdown in Florida next Sunday afternoon.

First Round Byes: (1) New England Patriots, (2) Pittsburgh Steelers

NFC Wild Card

(5) Carolina Panthers at (4) New Orleans Saints– This is one that immediately grabbed my attention as the schedules were released for the postseason. You have to love rematches in the postseason and more so when divisional rivals face each other. The Saints started their eight-game winning streak against the Panthers and they enter as the champions of the NFC South for the first time since 2011. This team resembles the title winner in 09-10 with their running game, Brees of course and the defense is much improved after years of struggling to stop anybody. The last time we saw the Carolina Panthers in the postseason, they were the one seed with a 15-1 record and they were in the Super Bowl where they fell short to the Denver Broncos. After a down 2016, they are back and when Cam is having fun, the Panthers are a tough team to beat. The Superdome will be rocking on Sunday afternoon. It’s another edition of Cam Newton facing Drew Brees.

(6) Atlanta Falcons at (3) Los Angeles Rams– They’re back! The Atlanta Falcons. They were all over the place this year. For a few games, they looked strong and seemed to have picked up where they left off last year and then, there was a stretch of games when they struggled and played “consistently inconsistent” football. When they run both Coleman and Freeman and Matt Ryan is spreading the football around to his receivers, the Falcons are a tough team to slow down and their defense isn’t as bad as people make it seem. The last time the Rams were in the playoffs, Bush was still president (the son), Marshall Faulk was still an active player and the Rams were still playing in St. Louis. They were definitely the best story of the 2017 season considering where they were last year finishing in third place in the NFC West and this year, they are the kings of their division with a 31-year-old head coach in Sean McVay and a young and upcoming quarterback in Jared Goff. The Coliseum will be the place to be on Saturday night.

First Round Byes: (1) Philadelphia Eagles, (2) Minnesota Vikings