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Rocky’s World: the Take It Back Tour starts now!

Let’s take a look at all the Wild Card Weekend games.

AFC Championship - Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Congratulations, Kansas City Chiefs fans! We've reached the end of the 18-week trek through the wilderness that is the NFL regular season.

We've faced trials along the way that tested our mettle as Chiefs fans. We watched in horror as Dan Sorensen was left in man coverage. We cheered as Nick Bolton chugged down the field to seal the victory. We swag-surfed.

And we saw Patrick Mahomes look human.

And then we saw him pick himself up off of the canvas and come back throwing blows like Mike Tyson's Punch Out.

As we emerge from this dark forest, we find ourselves at the base of a massive mountain — whose summit glows so incandescently that it has the power to bring grown men to tears.

This mountain that I speak of is the NFL playoffs.

A wise man once said, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

This is especially true in the playoffs.

Each game will mark the end of a team's season — and in some cases, the end of a particular player's career. For some others, this will be the only time they taste the sweet nectar of the postseason. Hearts will be broken — and legends will be forged — in this theater of orchestrated chaos that is playoff football.

Everything matters more.

So let's dive into this beast to see what's in store. Winning probabilities are from FiveThirtyEight's quarterback-adjusted ELO model.


Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals

Las Vegas Raiders vs Cincinnati Bengals Set Number: X163870 TK1

Time: 3:30 p.m. Arrowhead Time
Winning probability: Bengals 76%

Preview: The Raiders have not been to the playoffs since 2016. Quarterback Derek Carr did not play after breaking his fibula in Week 16 against the Indianapolis Colts. This will be the first dance for many of Cincinnati's deadly young offensive players, too.

As for the Raiders, their most experienced player in the postseason is 32-year-old middle linebacker K.J. Wright, who has eight postseason runs under his belt from when he was with the Seattle Seahawks — including two Super Bowl appearances and one championship.

I hope the Raiders get destroyed so severely in this game that they don't make it back to the playoffs for another five years.

Old Friends: Bengals players D.J. Reader and Vernon Hargreaves III were both part of the 2019 Houston Texans defense — the one that allowed the Chiefs to erase a 21-point first-half lead in eight minutes during the Divisional Round game at Arrowhead.

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

NFL: DEC 26 Bills at Patriots Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Time: 7:15 p.m. Arrowhead Time
Winning probability: Bills 70%

Preview: This isn't your daddy's Patriots team. The last two decades of unparalleled success with Tom Brady under center are a thing of the past. The greatest example of this came in Week 13. In terrible wind conditions at Foxborough, the Patriots beat the Bills 14-10. new England head coach Bill Belichick opted to throw the ball only three times in the entire game — while rushing the ball 46 times.

The weather is shaping up to be miserable for this game as well, with the temperature expected to be around nine degrees at kickoff. Bills quarterback Josh Allen has played in some big games in his career. Now let's see if he can win them.

Old Friends: Buffalo starting center Mitch Morse was drafted by the Chiefs in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Morse also played his college ball down the road at Mizzou. Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll looks like your girlfriend's dad. He also served as Chiefs offensive coordinator in 2012 under former head coach Romeo Crennel. That season, the Chiefs had the 32nd-ranked offense.


Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL: OCT 14 Buccaneers at Eagles Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Time: Noon Arrowhead Time
Winning probability: Buccaneers 81%

Preview: This game is a story of two teams who like to do entirely different things. The Eagles are the NFL's top-ranked rushing team, while the Buccaneers are the league's top-ranked passing offense.

Aside from the Chiefs, Philadelphia probably has the best offensive line in football. Tampa Bay has been extremely banged up over the last few weeks. In Week 17, the team nearly lost to the woeful New York Jets.

This season, the Eagles didn't beat a single team with a winning record — and it's always dangerous to bet against Tom Brady. But for one of the first times in his career, one has to wonder: is he enough?

Old Friends: Former Chiefs running back Le'Veon Bell, defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches and placekicker Ryan Succop play for the Buccaneers. On the opposite sideline, Philidelphia starting center Jason Kelce is the older brother of Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys

San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Time: 3:30 p.m. Arrowhead Time
Winning probability: Cowboys 69%

Preview: The 49ers team is dangerous. Deebo Samuel might be one of the 10 best players in the NFL. A media darling, tight end George Kittle is also healthy for the first time in what seems like a decade. That being said, this Cowboys team is loaded with weapons of their own, specifically at wide receiver with Ceedee Lamb and Amari Cooper. Dallas has an aggressive front seven that likes to pin its ears back and get after you. The key for the 49ers is going to be adding presnap motion to their plays, to help confuse and slow down Dallas' pass rush.

Old Friends: You may remember that the Chiefs traded edge rusher Dee Ford to San Francisco a few years back. Unfortunately, you won't get the opportunity to watch him line up offsides in this one because he's on injured reserve.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs

NFL: DEC 26 Steelers at Chiefs Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Time: 7:15 p.m. Arrowhead Time
Winning probability: Chiefs 86%

Preview: One must wonder how old man Ben Roethlisberger (fresh from his suite at the Shady Acres Retirement Community) will find the energy to stay up for this game. I mean, kickoff isn't until 7:15 p.m. Usually, by that time, he has already finished his Salisbury steak, eaten his pistachio pudding and put his dentures in a cup to soak overnight as he nods off watching reruns of Press Your Luck, murmuring "Big bucks, big bucks, no whammies..." in his sleep.

The Chiefs and the Steelers just played each other in Week 16. From the beginning of that game, it was clear that this Kansas City team was in another class. Father Time has caught up to Big Ben — but he serves as an important reminder that we should all enjoy each one of these wild playoff runs because the end of this golden era of Chiefs football is probably a lot closer than we think.

Let's give Big Ben the exit he deserves. I'm thinking... something like this...

Old Friends: None. Taco Charlton is on the Steelers — but in this particular playoff game, there are no old friends. Only enemies.


Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams

Los Angeles Rams v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Time: 7:15 p.m. Arrowhead Time
Winning probability: Rams 70%

Preview: This will mark the third time these two teams have faced each other this season. The high-flying Cardinals took the first contest 37-20, but lost the second matchup 30-23. The most notable difference between the two games was the absence of Arizona's star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who is on injured reserve with a knee injury.

Los Angeles has no shortage of firepower. In 2021, wide receiver Cooper Kupp put together what is arguably the best season by any wide receiver in NFL history, winning the Triple Crown by leading all receivers in yards, catches and touchdowns.

Old Friends: Arizona has two former Chiefs on their roster: starting center Rodney Hudson and tight end Demetrius Harris. When with Kansas City, Harris caught the Hungry Pig Right pass from defensive tackle Dontari Poe.

Looking ahead

Based on FiveThirtyEight's quarterback-adjusted ELO model, here are the most likely matchups for the remainder of the playoffs.

Divisional Round:

Bengals (74%) at Tennessee Titans (100%)
Bills (70%) at Chiefs (86%)
Cowboys (69%) at Buccaneers (80%)
Rams (70%) at Green Bay Packers (100%)

Conference Championship:

Chiefs (60%) at Titans (67%)
Buccaneers (52%) at Packers (77%)

Super Bowl:

Chiefs (38%) vs. Packers (50%)

I'll be honest: I don't care how the rest of the postseason plays out — as long as at the end, Chiefs Kingdom is standing on the mountaintop, bathed in the glory of another Lombardi Trophy.

San Francisco 49ers vs Kansas City Chiefs, Super Bowl LIV Set Number: X163163 TK1


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