Welcome to the Gridiron Hub Playoff Challenge!
If you haven’t already read James’ article, you should definitely check it out, but in case you don’t know, the Gridiron Hub Playoff Challenge is a fantasy football competition which is pitting you guys against us, to try and win a great NFL prize!
The NFL Playoffs start this weekend, and so does our challenge, so here is your preview of the first week – what’s going on in Wildcard weekend?
The first game is on Saturday evening (9:35pm GMT) between the Colts and the Texans. This game takes place in Houston and will be a battle of two very impressive defenses, as well as two great QB-WR pairings; Andrew Luck and T.Y Hilton vs Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins. This game has some real fantasy potential, which will be even better if you can correctly predict who will win the game. The run game of the Colts is stronger than that of the Texans, however JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney will have something to say about that. This game should be a very close one, and I can see it going either way, which doesn’t help for the playoff challenge, but could be a great way to start the playoffs with a gritty matchup.
If it’s gritty matchups you’re after, it’s the second game which really fits the bill. The second game is a Saturday night game (1:15am GMT Sunday) between two of the most run-heavy teams you will ever see, who just happen to have two of the best defenses in the playoffs. This is going to be the most run-heavy game of the entire post-season in my opinion (mainly because I don’t expect the Ravens to make it far enough to face one of these two teams), and so if you’re not a fan of watching teams pound the rock, you can get some sleep after the first game – but I can’t wait. There is something beautiful about watching two teams who are both unapologetically predictable going at it, especially when both sides are strong on both sides of the ball. Again, this is a really tough game to predict, but if you pick the right side you might end up with a very strong running back next week, the question is who – Zeke or Chris Carson? Amari Cooper or Tyler Lockett? No pressure.
On Sunday we have too more really interesting matchups, starting off with the Ravens hosting the Chargers, (6:05pm GMT). This game is one which we got a chance to see just two weeks ago, with the Baltimore side coming out on top in week 16, on the road in Los Angeles. This previous result will surely provide confidence for the rookie-led team, who now get to host the repeat fixture, however the LA Chargers now have the game film they need to try and make adjustments, and ultimately attempt to shut down the college-style offense which the Ravens have found so much success with. If the Chargers can avoid being overwhelmed by the run game, I think they will win the game, but that is a monumental if. The Chargers aren’t exactly firing on all cylinders right now, and they are going to need to lean on their run game if they want to avoid seeing back-to-back weeks with multiple interceptions thrown by Phillip Rivers, meaning that once again if you don’t enjoy watching the running game you might have to hope that the team in purple get out to a lead early. There are some really strong fantasy players in this one, who could be very helpful for you – especially if you start them week one and they move on to the next week, particularly the likes of Lamar Jackson, Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen.
The final game of the weekend is a juicy one, the Chicago Bears are hosting everyone’s least favourite January opponents, the Philadelphia Eagles. Nick Foles is an absolute mad man, and he is going to start this week, despite his sore ribs – which for people at home is great news, because it makes this game very interesting. This Sunday evening game (9:40pm GMT) is a chance for Matt Nagy’s to prove that Soldier Field deserves some playoff football. In my opinion this game will be won and lost in the trenches, specifically by the battle between the Eagles offensive line and the Bears defensive line. I personally think that the Bears are more likely victors here but when Nick Foles is under centre, anything can happen. If I was HC Doug Pederson I would run a frankly ridiculous amount of RPO [run/pass option] behind Khalil Mack to try and make him check his rush every once in a while. If the 2017 playoff-form of the Eagles returns they will stroll through Chicago, but this is a different team, and it’s very possible that the magic could wear off if Matt Nagy has some of his own up his sleeve. The Eagles running back situation isn’t ideal for fantasy, and although the Bears backfield constantly puts up points its difficult to predict who will do the damage on a weekly basis, but both quarterbacks in this game could be a sneaky option in the playoff challenge.
If the Texans win, they face the New England Patriots.
If the Texans win, whoever wins out of the Chargers and Ravens will face the Kansas City Chiefs.
If the Colts win, they will face the Kansas City Chiefs.
If the Colts win, whoever wins out of the Chargers and Ravens will face the New England Patriots.
If the Bears win, they face the Los Angeles Rams.
If the Bears win, whoever wins out of the Cowboys and Seahawks will face the New Orleans Saints.
If the Eagles win, they face the New Orleans Saints.
If the Eagles win, whoever wins out of the Cowboys and Seahawks will face the Los Angeles Rams.
Good luck and enjoy Wildcard weekend!
Make sure to join the ‘Gridiron Hub Playoff Challenge’ on playoffchallenge.fantasy.nfl.com for a chance at our Grand Prize.