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Eagles and Chiefs: Two Teams That Will Surprise in Round 1 of the NFL Playoffs

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 22: Tight end Brent Celek #87 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates after making a catch in the end zone for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears in the first quarter during a game at Lincoln Financial Field on December 22, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Andrew TornettaCorrespondent IIJanuary 4, 2014

Nothing is more unpredictable than the NFL playoffs.

The only thing that you can truly count on is that there will be many surprises on the path to Super Bowl XLVIII.

However, Wild Card Weekend hasn't been as memorable recently, with most of the Wild Cards struggling in the opening round. Over the last two seasons, the Wild Cards have gone a combined 1-7 in the first round, with the lone winner being the Seattle Seahawks last year. 

According to Vegas Insider, that trend should continue with three of the four Wild Card teams heading into this weekend as underdogs, with just the San Francisco 49ers entering their game at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers as three-point favorites. 

Whether it's delivering a major upset, blowing out a quality opponent or playing far below expectations, there are many ways—both good and bad—that teams can put on a surprising performance.

With that said, here are two teams that will surprise in the Wild Card Round.

 

Philadelphia Eagles

As I've previously mentioned, I'm high on the Eagles this postseason and expect them to open up their playoff run with a dominating performance on Saturday.

Entering the game as just a 2.5-point favorite over the New Orleans Saints, Philly will cover that spread easily, leaving the outcome of the game in little doubt thanks to a combination of factors.

For starters, the Saints have proved to be a completely different team on the road this year than they are at home. This season, they are just 3-5 on the road, and as Chase Stuart of The New York Times points out, they have never won a road playoff game in franchise history.

He also gives a great stat, stating that dome teams have gone 2-23 in the playoffs when playing outdoors in weather that is 35 degrees or below. The temperature on Saturday is projected be in the teens in Philadelphia.

Expect to see LeSean McCoy rip apart a Saints defense that ranks 19th in the league against the run. The Eagles will continue to put up points in bunches, as they have done since Nick Foles took over as the starter.

As noted by Mike Clay of Rotoworld, the Eagles have averaged more than four touchdowns per game since Foles took over as the permanent starter, which is good for best in the league.

Meanwhile, the defense should play much better than expected against a potent passing attack, setting up a surprisingly one-sided victory for the home team.

 

Kansas City Chiefs

Predicting the Kansas City Chiefs to lose this weekend may not come as a big surprise to many people.

After all, Kansas City is a slight 2.5-point underdog and is playing on the road against a Colts team that just beat the Chiefs 23-7 on the road in Week 16.

However, it will be the way that the Chiefs lose—in dominating fashionthat will come has a big surprise. 

Their 11 wins this year tied the 2008 Miami Dolphins and the 2012 Colts for most wins by a team that won two or fewer games in the previous season. Those two teams are fitting company for Kansas City, as both reached the playoffs and suffered beatdowns that showed they were still far from being contenders.

After starting the season 9-0, Kansas City has lost five of its last seven games, in large part due to a defense that has taken a step back, as noted by ESPN Stats & Info:

The Colts are not an elite team, but they have shown the ability to play their best football against their toughest competition. They beat the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos—the three teams with the best records in the league.

On the flip side, the Chiefs have gone 0-5 against playoff teams, getting swept by the Broncos and San Diego Chargers while also losing to the Colts.

The Chiefs have proved that they can handle their business against the bad teams in the league, but that will do them no good in the playoffs. Kansas City has been falling back down to earth since Week 10 and will finally come to a crash landing on Saturday.

 

Andrew Tornetta is a correspondent for Bleacher Report. You can find his Bleacher Report archive and follow him on Twitter @AndrewTornetta.

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