Lions @ Seahawks:
The Lions enter this game with an unimpressive 9-7 record missing out on their division due to losing a crucial game against Green Bay last week. It must be said Matt Stafford’s team does not instil confidence entering the playoffs on a losing streak of 3. In fact, their record against this year’s playoff teams is 0-5 which is a big indicator that they simply do not have the quality that playoffs require. Their running game is non-existent, where they currently rank 30th in the league, with an average of a measly 81.9 yards a game. However, it would be unfair not to pay homage to Golden Tate who has become a real foundation player for the Lions and has often been the difference. My opinion? A Mediocre side who would have to pull out an exceptional performance to travel any further in this competition.
The Legion of Boom have just not seemed the same without their commanding safety Earl Thomas III. He has been sorely missed in the latter half of the season as it has become obvious to everyone what a valuable role he played. Nonetheless, to say that they are not a formidable defence anymore would be incorrect as their star-studded line up boasts greats such Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Michael Bennett who have been known to make game-saving plays. Bobby Wagner has also been exceptional and should not be forgotten in the Lions plans as he is an unsung hero in the Seahawks defensive line up. Their attack has been solid this year yet too many times have found themselves struggling to get into the end zone which has really cost them and this is shown in their 10-5-1 record. Their returner and wide receiver Tyler Lockett was also injured last week and is out for the rest of the season which is a real blow to the whole team. Yet Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham rarely disappoint and I see no reason to expect anything less this week. Despite their injured players, Seattle still hold an exceptional squad; a squad that seems much more impressive than Detroit’s.
Giants @ Packers:
Strong, steady and overall impressive. The Giants have competed in every game they’ve played this season and have made themselves a hard team to overlook. They handed out defeats to teams all over the league including 2 huge wins against the Dallas Cowboys who topped the NFC this year. They have proven they can be contenders this year, and despite being not his best year Eli Manning looks to complete his hat trick of super bowl rings. They have great receivers in Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz and the rookie Sterling Shepard who has become an essential part of Giants roster down to his brilliant route running and unmoving nerve. The Giants lost to the Packers earlier on in the season but this will not be the same team they faced; they have grown and developed and will be ready to come out and prove that they deserve to be in this year’s playoffs. Their big-time corners Rodgers-Cromartie and Jenkins (if he’s as fit as he claims to be) should be able to hold off the Green Bay receivers and if they can win their match ups in the cold they may be able to survive this round of the playoffs.
The Packers have seen a season of incredible highs and lows this year yet have still managed to come out on top of the NFC North an impressive feat considering they had lost 6 games by Week 11. From Week 12 on they turned a corner and won six games back to back going unbeaten till the end of the season which is the best form a team could’ve asked for entering the playoffs. They have become seemingly unbeatable in the last games of the season with Aaron Rodgers and Ty Montgomery playing out of their skin to keep their chances alive. The Giants front seven must work hard to keep Rodgers in the pocket as we all know how devastating he can be when he prolongs the play. Their defence has pulled together but their secondary is still lacking and with the injuries to Damarius Randall and Quinten Rollins they look shaky. The new green bay secondary must step up and contain the Giants’ wide receivers who have looked hungry and ready to go this year. If the Packers Secondary can stop the Giants wide receivers, then we will have a game on our hands. But if not? Be prepared to see Shepard, Cruz and Beckham cause mayhem all game long.
By Aidan Lees