It wasn’t pretty, but the Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers became the first set of Wild Card teams to go a perfect 4-0 against division winners. With the four Wild Card teams now set to square off against the well-rested, elite teams of each respective conference, let’s take a quick look at how each squad advanced to the Divisional Round.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs were riding a 10-game win streak heading to Houston, and easily walked out with an 11th consecutive victory. The Chiefs led for 59:49 of a possible 60 minutes, thanks to a 106-yard opening kickoff return by Knile Davis. Kansas City’s defense made Brian Hoyer look like, well, an even worse version of Brian Hoyer, and the offense hummed along under the tutelage of Alex Smith. It was a dominant 30-0 performance by the hottest team in the NFL, and certainly got the attention of their upcoming opponent – the New England Patriots.
In the most dramatic game of Wild Card weekend, the Steelers narrowly defeated the Cincinnati Bengals. It was a game both teams seemingly had locked up multiple times, but Cincinnati’s inability to keep its composure led to a Steelers win. With Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder) and Antonio Brown (concussion) both banged up, no team enters this weekend with more question marks than the Steelers. Taking on a rejuvenated Denver Broncos squad under Peyton Manning, the Steelers might need more than an idiotic fumble (Jeremy Hill) and two unnecessary roughness penalties (Vontaze Burfict, Adam Jones) to advance to the AFC Conference Championship game.
In the NFL, it’s generally considered an automatic make when a kicker attempts a field goal from within 30 yards. However, Vikings kicker Blair Walsh proved this to be untrue when he missed a 27-yard field goal that would’ve given Minnesota the win. Instead, Seattle escaped and finds itself only two wins away from its third consecutive Super Bowl appearance. Taking on an inexperienced Carolina Panthers team, the Seahawks appear poised to avenge their Week 6 loss to Cam Newton’s squad.
Green Bay Packers
In what was expected to be the closest game of Wild Card weekend, the Green Bay Packers surprised many with a 35-18 thrashing of the Washington Redskins. Seeming to regain their offensive mojo as the game went on, the Packers will look to ride the momentum into a difficult game against the Arizona Cardinals. Having lost 38-8 to the Cardinals three weeks ago, Green Bay will need to make plenty of adjustments if they are to keep their Super Bowl hopes alive.