The NFL Playoffs continue this weekend with the red hot Kansas City Chiefs going up to New England to face the mighty (but banged up) New England Patriots while the Green Bay Packers will be looking to avenge a blow out loss three weeks ago against the Arizona Cardinals.
On Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks face the Carolina Panthers and the Pittsburgh Steelers (another team missing key players with injuries) will travel to play the top seeded Denver Broncos, who will have quarterback Peyton Manning back at the helm.
Tom Brady and the Patriots know how to win in the post-season and have been doing it for so many years, including last season when they were fortunate to win the Super Bowl because the Seattle Seahawks made perhaps the most stupid play call in the game's history.
Look for the Pats to somehow come out on top in their game against Kansas City, even though they appear to be banged up in several key areas on both sides of the ball. The Chiefs, meanwhile have won eleven straight games and continued to roll by pummeling the Houston Texans, 30-0 last weekend in the Wild Card round.
Kansas City QB Alex Smith continues to lead the efficient offense and the defense seems to be on a mission after the team's 1-5 start.
The Packers rolled past the upstart Washington Redskins, 35-18 last week and now face the team that crushed them 38-8 just three weeks ago.
But that was then and this is now the Packers say as they play the Arizona Cardinals in the desert. The Red Birds have been rolling this season (13-3 record) and QB Carson Palmer has been like a young man once again with the season he is having.
This should be a closer game (much like the second go round last week when Minnesota nearly beat Seattle after being blown out just a few weeks earlier) between the two teams, but look for Arizona to emerge from this one.
The Carolina Panthers (15-1) and QB Cam Newton are the top dog in the NFL this year and they did have a huge come from behind win in Seattle earlier this season. The Seahawks were very fortunate to win in Minnesota last week in the Wild Card round and they know they must play near perfect in every aspect of the game to win in Carolina.
Having running back Marshawn Lynch back will be a big boost for the 'Hawks offense. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is a proven winner in the playoffs and that is a big X factor for the team.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will have to play the Denver Broncos without RB DeAngelo Williams (foot/knee) and wide receiver Antonio Brown (concussion) and also have QB Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder) ailing coming into the game.
That is a daunting task facing the NFL's number-one defense (yardage wise) in the Mile High city. The Broncos have Manning back at quarterback and how much that will influence the game remains to be seen.
Manning struggled mightily this season and was also hampered by foot issues as the team turned to Brock Osweiler while Manning was nursing those injuries. Denver and the Steelers battled it out a month ago in the Steel City with the Steelers coming back from 17 points down to win the game and keep their playoff hopes alive.
Pittsburgh won a thriller over Cincinnati 18-16 last week in the Wild Card game but lost Bryant to the concussion when he was the recipient of a cheap shot by Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Roethlisberger also left the game briefly (shoulder injury) before returning to lead the drive that led to the game winning field goal.
Without Brown and Williams and Big Ben not 100 percent, the Steelers offense will be hampered while facing the tenacious Broncos defense, so look for Denver to win a squeaker in this game.
All in all, it looks to be a fun filled weekend with the games, even with all the injuries involved. That is why they play the games it is often said and that holds true for these games as well.
The Heftyinfo pick for the Divisional Round playoff games . . . (Home teams listed in BOLD)
New England over Kansas City
Arizona over Green Bay
Seattle over Carolina
Denver over Pittsburgh
Last Week's Record: 3-1
PLAYOFF RECORD: 3-1