The second week of the NFL playoffs are upon us with a pair of divisional games on Saturday January 14th and another two the following day. All of the clubs that received a bye in the first weekend of the postseason will now enter the fray as the final eight teams battle it out for a spot in the Super Bowl in Houston, Texas on Sunday, February 5th. Check out our weekly predictions below to see how each of the eight clubs will fare in the second week of the playoffs.
Bet on all games live at 5Dimes!
Saturday January 14th
Houston Texans at New England Patriots
Houston will head northeast this weekend to battle it out with the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Saturday. The Texans are through to the AFC Divisional round after downing the Oakland Raiders 27-14 at home at NRG Stadium last weekend. It was their first playoff triumph in team history. Houston managed to win the AFC South again this season with a 9-7 record even though they lost 24-17 in Tennessee in week 17. The Titans also finished 9-7 in the division, but failed to make the postseason. Meanwhile, the Patriots finished as the top seed in the AFC as they won the East Division with their conference-beat record of 14-2. The Patriots last played in week 17 when they beat the dolphins 35-14 down in Miami.
Houston’s a low-scoring team as their 17.4 points per game ranked 28th in the league and that will spell trouble against New England since the Patriots allowed the fewest points against at 15.63 per contest. New England also boasted one of the league’s top offences with 27.6 points and outing. But on the other side of the coin, the Texans defence allowed just 301.3 yards against per game this year on average which actually ranked as one of the lowest totals in the league. The two teams met each other early in the season with the Patriots smoking the Texans 27-0 at home. In addition, New England has won seven of the eight encounters between the sides.
Brock Osweiler was back at quarterback against Oakland after Tom Savage played the last two games of the season. had a decent outing with 168 yards and going 14 for 25 in passing. He chipped in with a touchdown pass and a rushing score as well. Houston ran for 144 yards, but averaged fewer than three yards a run. The offense scored enough points for the win, but the defence was better as the Raiders managed only 203 yards for the game with three pickoffs and a pick-six by Jadeveon Clowney. Houston’s pass defence was fifth-best in the league this year and will need to be on its game against Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady.
New England was 4-1 at home this season with Brady at the helm and have gone 7-1 at home in their past eight postseason encounters. However, Brady didn’t play in their 27-0 win over Houston in week 3 as Jacoby Brissett got the start. New England ran for three touchdowns and 185 yards in that game. Brady will definitely start Saturday though and he’s in fine form with 16 touchdowns and just one interception in the past seven games, with New England winning all of them. New England’s rush defence was fourth-best this year so Houston may need to focus on an aerial attack.
Prediction: New England wins by 14 points, 31-17
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons
Seattle will be taking on the Falcons down in Atlanta this Saturday in an NFC Divisional showdown after easily taking care of the Detroit Lions 26-6 at home in the their wildcard playoff game last week. The Seahawks beat San Francisco 25-23 in their final outing of the season and finished the campaign on top of the NFC West at 10-5-1. Atlanta also finished the season on a high note with a 38-32 home win over New Orleans. They won the NFC South Division with their 11-5 record. Atlanta will be facing a Seattle secondary which will be missing safety Earl Thomas and receiver Tyler Lockett.
The Seattle ground attack may also struggle with an untested rookie in Alex Collins. Quarterback Russell Wilson could do some major damage in the air though and that may be the difference in the game. The two teams squared off in Seattle on October 16th with the Seahawks wining 26-24. Seattle has won six of the last 10 contests against Atlanta and will be attempting to reach the NFC title game for the third time in the past five years. Thomas Rawls scored a touchdown and ran for a franchise playoff record of 164 yards against the Lions on 27 carries and he’ll be a key player.
Wilson gained 224 yards in the air by going 23 for 30 last week and added a couple of touchdown passes. Wide receiver Paul Richardson helped him out with a touchdown and 48 receiving yards. The famous Seattle defence also did its job as they allowed just six points on a pair of field goals. Seattle’s a tough team to beat in the month of January as they’ve gone 9-1 in their past 10 outings in that month. They’re facing a team which scored a league-best average of 33.8 points a game this year though, so it’s going to be a tough test. The Atlanta defence was ranked 27th though by giving up 25.4 points a week.
Atlanta enters the game on a four-match winning streak with quarterback Matt Ryan throwing 11 touchdowns in those games without an interception. He has plenty of fine targets to throw to such as Julio Jones, Austin Hooper and Taylor Gabriel. The running-back pair of Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman will be a key as they teamed up for 25 touchdowns and 2,482 yards this campaign. The Atlanta defence is questionable though but recorded more takeaways than Seattle’s defence this season. Their home record wasn’t the best this year at 5-3, so they may need an offensive outburst to win this game.
Prediction: Seattle wins by three points, 24-21
Sunday January 15th
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs
There’s an AFC Divisional game in Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium where the Chiefs will host the Steelers on Sunday. Pittsburgh downed Cleveland 27-24 at home in overtime in their season finale to finish the year at 11-5 and won the AFC North. They then beat the Miami Dolphins 30-12 at home in the AFC wildcard game last Sunday. Kansas City managed to edge Oakland for first place in the AFC West as both teams finished 12-4 with the Chiefs beating the Chargers 37-27 in San Diego on the final day of the season.
The Steelers have now won eight straight games with a few of them being come-from-behind affairs and have taken four in a row on the road. Their key players are quarterback Ben Roethlisberger along with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell who were all rested in week 17. Roethlisberger has been inconsistent lately though with eight interceptions in his past seven games. Bell was red hot against Miami though with 29 carries for 167 yards and two touchdowns, which is a new postseason rushing record for Pittsburgh. Wide receiver Brown chipped in with 124 yards on five receptions with two touchdowns.
Roethlisberger didn’t really have a busy passing day as he went just 13 for 18 for 189 yards with a pair of touchdown passes and a pair of pickoffs. To make matters worse, he suffered a foot injury late in the game, but said he’ll be okay to start against the Chiefs. The Steelers’ defence also played well against the Dolphins and improved as the year went on. Their pass defence ranked 11th this year and the run defence was 12th-best. They forced Miami into three big turnovers last week in the first half as well as four sacks. Pittsburgh and Kansas met on October 2nd with the Steelers hammering them 43-14 at home. Pittsburgh has won six of their last 10 meetings.
Kansas City won five of their past six games to win the AFC West and earn a bye in the first week. Quarterback Alex Smith had a good year as did rookie wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight-end Travis Kelce and the team averaged 24.3 points per game. The defence allowed 19.4 points against each outing and led the NFL with 33 takeaways. However, it ranked just 24th in the league when it came to yards against by conceding 368.5 yards against each week. Kansas went 6-2 at home this year and the Steelers went 5-3 on the road with Roethlisberger struggling away from Heinz Field. Kansas hasn’t done too well at home in the playoffs lately though with four consecutive defeats and let’s not forget the Steelers manhandled them 41-13 earlier this year.
Prediction: Pittsburgh wins by six points, 31-25
Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys
Green Bay will head to Texas this Sunday where they’ll meet the rested Dallas Cowboys in an NFC Divisional game. The Packers took care of the New York Giants 38-13 last Sunday to advance to the next round. Green Bay managed to clinch the NFC North on the last day of the season with their 31-24 road win over second-place Detroit and finished the year at 10-6. Dallas won the NFC East at a conference-best 13-3, but lost 27-13 in Philadelphia in their season finale.
Green Bay conceded the second-most passing yards in the league this season at 269.2 yards per outing so the cowboys may want to exploit that fact. The Packers are riding a seven game winning streak though and won their division five times over the past half dozen years. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been red hot over the past eight weeks by throwing for 22 touchdowns without being picked off once and has averaged close to 300 passing yards each game. Green Bay scored 40 touchdowns in the air this year and their 27 points per game was the fourth-most in the league.
The Packers’ rushing game ranked 20th in the league at 106.3 yards a game so expect Rodgers to be throwing the ball. Randall Cobb, Jared Cook, Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams have all broken the 100-yard barrier in receiving at least once during Green Bay’s recent winning streak. However, Nelson’s status is unknown as he was hurt in last week’s game. The Green Bay run defence has been playing well lately and has held five of their last seven opponents to less than 100 yards and will need to replicate that feat against a strong Dallas ground game. The Packers went 4-4 on their road trips this season and were beaten 30-16 at home by Dallas in week 6, but Green Bay has won six of their past 10 meetings.
Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have led the Dallas attack this year, but of course have no playoff experience yet. Dallas racked up 424 yards against the Packers in week 6 though and the defence forced four turnovers in their win. Prescott had 23 touchdowns this year with only four interceptions and tossed for an average of 229.2 yards a game. He tossed three touchdown passes against Green Bay earlier in the year and Elliot ran for 157 yards. Elliot also led the league in rushing this year with 1,631 yards. Dallas needs to stop Rodgers though and it may be tough since they allow 260 yards against in the air per week. The Cowboys went 7-1 at home this year.
Prediction: Dallas wins by four points, 28-24