Patriots power past Texans, Packers shade Cowboys: NFL play-offs preview and predictions

Kevin Jeffers provides his previews and offers his score predictions. All game start times are UAE.

Aaron M Sprecher via AP
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In an interesting twist, all four of this weekend’s NFL play-off match-ups are rematches from games in the regular season. The winners advance to the conference finals. Kevin Jeffers provides his previews and offers his score predictions. All game start times are UAE.

Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons

(1.35am Sunday)

Seattle beat Atlanta at home in Week 6 in an ending shrouded in controversy, and the Falcons have not forgotten ahead of this game. Since then, Seattle have faltered on defence after losing Earl Thomas and Atlanta have emerged as a historically potent offence. This should be a close, high-scoring affair.

Prediction: Atlanta 37 Seattle 35

Houston Texans at New England Patriots

(5.15am Sunday)

The Patriots beat the Texans 27-0 in Week 3 and that was without Tom Brady. This clash could get even uglier for Houston as New England begin their run for a seventh Brady-led Super Bowl berth.

Prediction: New England 34 Houston 10

Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs

(5.20am, Monday; Editor’s note: Game moved to this time from an earlier listed time)

Pittsburgh destroyed Kansas City 43-14 in Week 4, which must feel like a lifetime ago for a Chiefs team that went on to win the AFC West. Kansas City coach Andy Reid is famously successful after his team has a week off — 16-2, including a 3-0 play-off record from his days at the helm of the Philadelphia Eagles. The extra week of preparation should prove necessary for this game against a Pittsburgh offence capable of putting up points in bunches. The Chiefs defence will be up to the task.

Prediction: Kansas City 24 Pittsburgh 23

Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys

(1.40am, Monday)

Dallas won at Green Bay 30-16 in Week 6, a result which opened many people’s eyes as to just how good the Cowboys actually were. Rookie Dak Prescott had a breakout day, throwing three touchdown passes while out-duelling Aaron Rodgers. But the play-offs are a different level of expectations for a rookie, even one as good as Prescott. Rodgers and the Packers have won seven straight ahead of Monday’s clash and are looking awfully similar to the 2010-11 team that won the Super Bowl. Green Bay will win on the road, ending a dream season for a young, promising Cowboys team.

Prediction: Green Bay 24, Dallas 20

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