(5) Kansas City Chiefs @ (4) Houston Texans

The Chiefs come into this game red hot, having won 10 consecutive games after a 1-5 start. On the other side, we have the Texans, who for all intensive purposes are lucky to be here. This is the second meeting between these two teams. In week one, the Chiefs won 27-20.

The biggest strength for both of these teams is their ability to rush the passer. Both teams finished in the top five in total sacks. J.J. Watt of the Texans led the NFL with 17.5 sacks, and after getting his cast for a broken hand removed looked back to his old self last Sunday.

The Texans lost their star left tackle Duane Brown last Sunday, which only means bad news for quarterback Brian Hoyer. Meanwhile the Chiefs’ defense is getting healthy. They saw the return of Tamba Hali last week on a limited snap count, which is expected to be lifted for this game. Justin Houston is slated to return in this one. I expect the Chiefs’ pass rush to dominate this Saturday. Brian Hoyer is in line for a long day.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Texans’ superstar receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who will be defended by the favorite to win the defensive rookie of the year award, Marcus Peters. Peters led the league in interceptions with eight.

The Chiefs haven’t won a playoff game since 1994, but I believe that losing streak will end in this one. During their ten game winning streak the Chiefs’ offense has averaged 34.2 points per game.

 

Prediction- Chiefs 28

Texans- 13

 

 

(6) Pittsburgh Steelers @ (3) Cincinnati Bengals

Round Three…. Ding

These two teams split the regular season series 1-1. Much like the first two games, I expect this one to be a dogfight. Both of the games this season were extremely chippy. Personal fouls after personal fouls. It was like watching a regular season hockey game.

The Bengals don’t expect their starting quarterback Andy Dalton, who broke his thumb in week 14 against the Steelers, to be ready to play, leaving AJ McCarron as the only viable option. Since entering in that week 14 game, McCarron has shown signs of brilliance. He throws a beautiful deep ball, but lacks the consistency to keep a rhythm going for an entire game.

The Steelers have a few questions of their own. At times, specifically in their home games, they have looked like the NFL’s most dominant offense, but at other times look like a team incapable of beating the woeful Ravens. Even in their week 17 win against the Browns the offense looked sluggish. Martavis Byrant is battling an illness and according to his quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, Bryant needs to “toughen up”.

Since Mike Tomlin took over as the head coach of the Steelers, the Bengals have beaten the Steelers just 5 times. Unlike the Bengals, the Steelers have a history of playoff success. Combine that with the fact that the Bengals are relying on a quarterback making his fourth career start and it’s hard for me to see the Bengals winning this game.

 

Prediction- Steelers- 27

Bengals-17

 

Sean Mason

Spark Sports NFL Analyst

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