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Labriola on Wild Card Round

Posted Jan 8, 2016

A look at the Wild Card Round games this weekend,

The following is a look around the NFL at the matchups for this weekend’s Wild Card Round of the playoffs:

SATURDAY AFTERNOON
KANSAS CITY (11-5) at HOUSTON (9-7)

STANDINGS
Chiefs finished second in AFC West
Texans won AFC South

PLAYOFF RECORD
Chiefs        8-15
Texans    2-2

CURRENT COACH’S PLAYOFF RECORD
Andy Reid            10-10
Bill O’Brien           0-1

BROADCAST
ESPN/ABC at 4:35 ET

Skinny: The Chiefs enter the postseason on a 10-game winning streak, and Coach Andy Reid is 5-0 in his NFL career against the Texans. Kansas City aims for 1st road playoff win since Jan. 16, 1994 vs. Houston Oilers in Divisional Round. Have won 10 consecutive games, longest streak in club history & longest active streak in NFL. 1st team in NFL history to win 10 consecutive games & have 5-game losing streak in same season. In 3 career playoff games, QB ALEX SMITH has passed for 873 yards with 9 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 108.6 rating. Aims for 4th playoff game in row with 97 rating … The Texans won AFC South for 3rd time in club history & 1st time since 2012. Are 2-0 at home in postseason. QB BRIAN HOYER will make postseason debut. Passed for career-high 19 TDs in 11 games in 2015. Only team in playoffs to have 2 players with 12 sacks in 2015 – DE J.J. WATT (17.5) & LB WHITNEY MERCILUS (12). Watt led NFL with 17.5 sacks in 2015 & is 1 of 7 players to lead league twice since 1982.

Impact on the playoffs: As teams on the other side of the AFC bracket, the Steelers could not face either Kansas City or Houston until the Conference Championship Game. If Pittsburgh defeats Cincinnati, the Steelers will go to Denver in the Divisional Round, which then would have either the Chiefs or Texans in New England. If the Steelers would lose in Cincinnati, the re-seeding process would send the Bengals to visit the Patriots, while the Chiefs-Texans winner would be off to Denver. If the Steelers beat the Bengals, it’s in their best interest to have the best remaining team sent to New England, and because of their defense and a 10-game winning streak that sure seems to be the Chiefs.

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SUNDAY AFTERNOON
SEATTLE (10-6) at MINNESOTA (11-5)

STANDINGS
Seahawks finished second in AFC West
Vikings finished first in AFC North

PLAYOFF RECORD
Seahawks        14-13
Vikings            19-27

CURRENT COACH’S PLAYOFF RECORD
Pete Carroll          8-5
Mike Zimmer        0-0

BROADCAST
NBC at 1:05 p.m.

Skinny: Seattle won the regular season meeting, 38-7, on Dec. 6 in Minnesota. The Seahawks advanced to playoffs for 4th consecutive season. Have won 10 games in each of past 4 seasons. Aim for 3rd consecutive Super Bowl appearance. Have won 5 of past 6 postseason games & have playoff win in each of past 3 postseasons. Coach PETE CARROLL is 7-3 (.700) in playoffs with Seattle … Vikings won NFC North, 1st division title since 2009. Team makes 1st playoff appearance since 2012 & 1st under Coach MIKE ZIMMER. Club’s 11 wins are tied for 2nd most in season since 2000. RB ADRIAN PETERSON led NFL in rushing (1,485 yards) & was named to 7th Pro Bowl. Is 1 of 3 in NFL history (HOFers MARION MOTLEY & CURTIS MARTIN) to lead NFL in rushing at 30 years old.

Impact on the playoffs: If the Steelers are the team nobody wants to face in the AFC Playoffs, then the Seahawks certainly are the team nobody wants to face in the NFC Playoffs. As the No. 6 seed, the Seahawks would go to Carolina for a game against the 15-1 Panthers in the Divisional Round, and that certainly would seem to be a more difficult matchup than the one facing the No. 2 seed Cardinals – hosting the winner of Green Bay-Washington. The other factor at play in this game is that if Minnesota wins – and being that the Vikings are playing in an outdoor facility in the middle of a Midwestern winter – weather could be re-introduced as a factor in the NFC Playoffs even with the Green Bay Packers unlikely to get into a position to host a game at Lambeau Field.

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GREEN BAY (10-6) at WASHINGTON (9-7)

STANDINGS
Packers finished second in NFC North
Redskins finished first in NFC East

PLAYOFF RECORD
Packers          31-20
Redskins        23-18

CURRENT COACH’S PLAYOFF RECORD
Mike McCarthy    7-6
Jay Gruden         0-0

BROADCAST
FOX at 4:40 p.m.

Skinny: Packers have won 13 NFL championships, most all-time. Team’s .608 postseason winning pct. (31-20) is best in NFL history among teams with 50 games played. Club has 31 playoff wins, 3rd most all-time. This is team’s 31st playoff appearance, tied for most in NFL history. MIKE MC CARTHY has led team to playoffs in 8 of his 10 seasons as head coach … The Redskins won NFC East, 1st division title since 2012 & 1st under head coach JAY GRUDEN. Have won 4 in row & have scored 34 points in each of past 3 games. Are 23-18 (.561) in postseason. QB KIRK COUSINS completed 192 of 257 (74.7 pct.) for 2,170 yards with 16 TDs vs. 2 INTs for 117 passer rating at home. His 74.7 comp. pct. is highest in NFL history in home games in single season.

Impact on the playoffs: For all of their illustrious playoff history, there is some sense the Packers are underachieving in 2015. With Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, the expectation is always a conference championship and a spot in the Super Bowl, but the Packers are looking like a flawed team in too many areas right now to make that kind of a run. Green Bay lost to Minnesota at Lambeau Field on the final weekend of the regular season, and that defeat cost the Packers a home playoff game in the Wild Card Round. If Seattle does the expected and defeats Minnesota to advance to Carolina for the Divisional Round, the Packers would go to Arizona if they defeat the Redskins. Can Washington actually defeat Green Bay with Jay Gruden coaching his first playoff game and Kirk Cousins at quarterback? Doesn’t sound likely, but in 2015, never say never.