Road to Super Bowl LI: Wild Card Weekend + Super Bowl Predictions

At this point, the prying question as we approach the wild card games of NFL playoff season and are less than a month away from Super Bowl LI, is who will be our 2017 SB contenders.  It's been intense watching the 12 teams compete for the final 2 AFC vs. NFC slots leading to the biggest game of the year, especially in a sense to see unlikely teams rise to the top. In just a few hours (based on Eastern Standard Time), Wild Card weekend begins as Oakland Raiders go up against Houstons Texans, followed by Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks. Tomorrow, we'll see Miami Dolphins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers and NY Giants vs. Green Bay Packers.

How about them Cowboys!? As a loyal and long-time fan of the Dallas Cowboys, I think I can speak for most of us when I say it's been hard for us to defend the greatness of America's team, so it's a relief to see them finally live up to their hype and potential. Watching them clinch the no.1 seed in the NFC east and entering the playoffs with home field advantage has been nothing short of incredible. Offensively, especially with WR Dez Bryant, Dak Prescott, and  RB Ezekiel Elliot, who was able to stand his ground even without Dez, the boys have truly showed out this season.
I do believe it'll come down to a close game between Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys if Falcons can find a way to stop QB Russell Wilson & company, which will be an intriguing match up to say the least. Plus, if that's the case, I really don't think Green Bay stands a chance going up against Cowboys in the divisional playoff round, because all of the weight is going to end up falling on Packers' QB Aaron Rodgers. Will the Dallas Cowboys make it to the SB? With the assumption/expectation that Dallas stays healthy during their bye week and rookies on the D-line won't crack under pressure, obviously they're my first choice. There is no question in my mind that they will be 1 of the 2 standing in NRG Stadium next month, which may sound a little bias, but that's the reality of the matter. 
As far as who I believe will be the other half of the final face-off, I'm betting on the New England Patriots. Of course this seems like a pretty predictable forecast with both Dallas and New England clinched in their division, but honestly, it's a choice that comes naturally, because it's the only thing that makes sense to me. Of course, this could all change based on what happens this weekend. The Chiefs and Raiders have had pretty respectable seasons, both with a tied 12-4 record, and Miami may be able to get close enough to touch. But with the Patriots' bend don't break mentality and the belief that QB Tom Brady will come back stronger than ever, it's hard to picture another team taking their spot.

Let the games begin...

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image source:  USA Today