NFL playoff predictions

Who will win and be one step closer to Superbowl LI in Houston next month?

Nate Vassalotti, Editor-in-chief

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Seattle Seahawks vs. Atlanta Falcons
Of the 12 teams that made the playoffs, the Atlanta Falcons have the most high-powered offense led by MVP candidate Matt Ryan. Ryan threw for nearly 5,000 yards and led the Falcons to an 11-5 record.  However, they are facing a top-five defense for Seattle in nearly every category.  With the playoff experience that Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has, along with the defensive stability behind him, it will be hard to bet against them. However, Ryan believes it is finally his year.  The last playoff game Atlanta won was in 2012 against the Seahawks, and I think they’ll do it again in 2017.
Prediction: Atlanta

Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots
This matchup is a little less exciting. Despite the fact that the Texans had the number one defense in the NFL, they are without the most dominant defensive player of the last decade, J.J. Watt, due to injury. They were also 29th in the NFL in total offense due to lack of consistent quarterback play. On the other side, the New England Patriots are number one in the league in total offense since getting Tom Brady back. With arguably the best coach in NFL history in Bill Belichick, and the greatest postseason player of all time playing quarterback for them, it is impossible to bet against the Patriots.
Prediction: New England

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City is a team that finished outside the top 15 for both offensive and defensive efficiency.  Yet, somehow Alex Smith led them to an 12-4 record and a first round bye in the playoffs.  Pittsburgh finished in the top 12 for both defense and offensive efficiency. With a healthy Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, the best wide out in the league, the Steelers’ high-powered offense will just be too much for Kansas City to handle.
Prediction: Pittsburgh  

Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers
This Dallas-Green Bay matchup is by far the most exciting yet for the 2017 postseason. Arguably, these are the two best teams in the NFL right now. Green Bay is riding an NFL best with a seven game win streak, and MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers has been on fire. Dallas has a league-best record of 13-3, led by two rookie sensations Dak Prescott and MVP candidate Ezekiel Elliott. With the speed of Elliot behind the best offensive line in the league, Dallas’ running game will be too much for Green Bay to handle. However, the Cowboys’ defense has been shaky at times, and Rodgers is the hottest quarterback in the league right now. This game will be interesting.
Prediction: Dallas