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Thread: Nfl.com wild card preview

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    Default Nfl.com wild card preview


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    Published: Dec. 30, 2013 at 01:05 a.m.
    Updated: Dec. 31, 2013 at 01:48 a.m.
    Previewing NFL's wild-card round


    Chris Wesseling
    Around the League Writer


    Can the Eagles produce in the postseason?
    The NFL's wild-card playoff schedule is set.


    Around The League already has you covered on head-coaching news and the Week 17 Sunday Scramble. Here are three quick thoughts on next week's matchups:


    Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts
    Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET
    1. This game features two teams moving in opposite directions. The Colts have won their last three games, outscoring opponents 78-20. The Chiefs enter the postseason having lost five of their last seven games, including a 23-7 home defeat to Chuck Pagano's squad last week.


    2. Unlike the majority of AFC playoff teams, the Colts are developing an identity with a stingy defense and an offense that finally found its ball-control style by sublimating the power running game to a short-passing attack under Andrew Luck's guidance.


    3. The Chiefs, on the other hand, went from relying heavily on a dominant defense in the first half of the season to opening up the offense for a string of shootouts after the Week 10 bye. They scored just seven points in the last game in which the starters played. Who is this team?


    New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles
    Saturday, 8:10 p.m. ET


    Can the Saints win outdoors?
    1. The Saints finished the season 8-0 at home and 3-5 on the road. Their average home game resulted in a 34-16 victory, whereas their average road game was a 22-18 defeat. This is a different team outside the Superdome.


    2. After going 14 months without a home victory of their own, the Eagles have won four consecutive games at Lincoln Financial Field. Outside of the 49ers, the Eagles are the hottest team in the league, having notched seven victories in their last eight games. Nick Foles has been held under a 100.0 passer rating just once in that stretch.


    3. As hot as Foles has been in Chip Kelly's offense, the Saints have a postseason experience advantage with Drew Brees and Sean Payton. Brees has been spectacular in the playoffs, sporting a 22:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 103.9 passer rating while averaging 331 yards per in nine games.


    San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals
    Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET
    1. The Chargers are another team with a changing identity. Whereas the offense relied heavily on Philip Rivers' arm early in the season, Ryan Mathews has carried the load with an average of 25 touches and 120 yards per game since Week 11. A defense that surrendered at least 25 points six times in the first 11 games has held opponents to an average of 18 during the 4-1 stretch to close out the regular season.


    2. Something has to give with a few conflicting Bengals streaks. They have yet to lose at Paul Brown Stadium this season, averaging a whopping 42 points in their last five home games. On the other hand, this franchise hasn't won a postseason game since a 41-14 victory over the Houston Oilers 24 years ago. Andy Dalton won't get the credit his coaching staff feels he deserves until he gets the playoff monkey off his back.


    3. This game is a rematch of the 1981 AFC Championship Game, better known as "The Freezer Bowl." The Bengals beat the "Air Coryell" Chargers 27-7 in a game that featured a sustained wind chill of -37 degrees in the Queen City, the coldest temperatures in NFL history.


    San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers
    Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET
    1. Speaking of rematches, these two teams square off for third time in the past 12 months. Colin Kaepernick hasn't topped 90 rushing yards in a game since turning in a record 181 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in an electric performance last January.


    2. The 49ers are the NFL's hottest team, having won six in a row entering the playoffs. After struggling early in the season, Kaepernick has posted a passer rating over 108.0 in five of the past six games. His hot streak coincides with the return of No. 1 receiver Michael Crabtree.


    3. The Packers have a new lease on life with Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb back in the lineup. This offense is as dangerous as any in the NFC, but the porous defense has allowed 26 points or more in nine of the past 10 games.


    The latest "Around The League Podcast" recapped all of the Week 17 action.

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    3. The Chiefs, on the other hand, went from relying heavily on a dominant defense in the first half of the season to opening up the offense for a string of shootouts after the Week 10 bye. They scored just seven points in the last game in which the starters

    I have a hard time believing we can't put it all together. I think this identity is the best identity other teams can have for us. We have a complete team I know it will show this weekend when we defeat the Colts

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