Wild Card Weekend featured an exceptional display of football, as teams looked to continue their playoff dreams deeper into the month of January.
However, the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs reintroduces fans to the franchises who had the most impressive regular seasons.
After their well-deserved bye weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles will get back into action on Saturday.
While the time off can help banged up players heal, it can also be somewhat of a obstacle to overcome as a team looks to reestablish the rhythm it had in the regular season.
We’ll take a look at a few reasons why the Chiefs and Eagles shouldn’t take their first playoff games lightly.
Kansas City Chiefs
On paper, the Chiefs would appear to be far superior to their opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kansas City has a lot more offensive firepower and playoff experience than do their counterparts, which should help them overcome a potential letdown in the biggest game of their season to date. Putting their 27-17 victory against Jacksonville in the rear view mirror should be easy to do.
One thing working in Kansas City’s favor is that they had to play their regular rotation players in Week 18 to clinch the number one seed in the AFC. Sometimes exceedingly long periods of rest can come back to hurt a team, but Kansas City should be able to treat this as a regular bye week.
The only thing that may give Chiefs fans pause is a recent Divisional Round performance against the Houston Texans in 2020. Kansas City found themselves down 24-0 at home to a Texans team that didn’t figure to be able to keep up with the Chiefs. They would eventually find themselves and blow out Houston 51-31, but that’s a dangerous game to play in the postseason.
Even though it became a little bit more difficult than was expected, the Eagles were able to hold off the rest of the NFC to capture the conference’s top seed. Their mini slide coincided with a shoulder injury suffered by starting quarterback Jalen Hurts, who figures to be on the short list of MVP candidates in the league this year.
All eyes will be on Hurts in this contest, for a couple of different reasons. Fans will want to see if Hurts has fully recovered from his injury, as his return to play in Week 18 was average by his standards. It’s possible that the coaching staff might try to keep Hurts in the pocket more in order to preserve his health.
Despite the brilliant season he’s had, it’s been well documented that Hurts has yet to win a playoff game in his NFL career. His first postseason appearance came last year against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the young quarterback appeared to be thoroughly overwhelmed. Hurts enters this matchup against the New York Giants with a much better team around him, which should help him get off to a better start.