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Breaking down the NFL playoff Saturday

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Here it is football fans, the best weekend in the NFL season: four premier playoff games over the next two days. Unlike last weekend, this week the NFL’s four best teams recordwise are on the schedule. Let’s break it down Saturday’s games, shall we?

4:35 p.m. Saturday afternoon – Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots, CBS, Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts on the broadcast.

The question is: Can K.C. do it? Can they go into Foxborough and somehow steal a victory against the leading organization in the NFL for the past 15 years?

The odds are formidable against them, but not that formidable. The Patriots are just 4.5 point favorites, lower than you’d think for a New England home playoff game.

The Chiefs are en fuego, having won 10 straight, including a dominant performance in Houston last Saturday in the NFL Wild card game vs. the hapless Brian Hoyer and the Houston Texas.

Will Gronk play? That has to be the biggest question for Patriot fans. Tight end and Boston cultural icon Rob Gronkowski is listed as “questionable” with back and knee injuries.

The Pats will have the very much missed wide receiver Julian Edelman back for Tom Brady to throw to Saturday.

What about Alex Smith? The former No. 1 draft pick of the 2005 NFL draft (23 selections ahead of Aaron Rodgers) is best known as being a competent “game-manager” type QB. He’s played well this season, but the Chiefs need him to play one of the games of his lives to win. Let’s see how he handles the intensity in the 4th quarter.

As hot as the Chiefs are, the Pats are cold, having lost their last two regular season games and four of their last six. There’s been some weirdness in Boston this week, with head coach Bill Belichick showing up this week at a press conference with a black eye. Not surprisingly, the charisma free coach declined to talk at all about what happened with him.

I’d love to see the Pats go down, but I don’t see it happening. Then again, the Chiefs destroyed New England back in September of 2014, 41-14, a game that put the Patriots  at a mediocre 2-2 after the first month of last season, with idiot sports scribes beginning to write the epitaph of the Brady-Belichick era. Maybe they just match up well against the Patriots?

Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals 8:15 p.m. NBC, Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth.

Packer Nation prays this isn’t another case of deja vu all over again.

Two days after Christmas, Arizona humiliated the Packers in Phoenix, 38-8, and looked like they were the best team in the NFL in doing so. It was a hyped contest of two playoff caliber teams, but only team – the Cardinals – looked like they were destined possibly to advance to Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara next month.

There’s a lot of hype this week about how the Packers have cleaned up their problems with their offensive line, which has been pretty terrible this year, contributing to Rodgers fall from the MVP form he had a year ago.

That remains to be seen. I’m praying this game is competitive for awhile. If Green Bay were to win, it’d one of the biggest playoff upsets in recent memory.

Carson Palmer deserves all the love he’s getting from the media and the fans this year. The 36-year-old has been a revelation with the Cardinals after his career looked over with the Raiders (something that could be said for Randy Moss and too many other players who took a paycheck while playing for the Silver and Black). A possible MVP candidate for sure.

Arizona is favored by a touchdown. Will it be that close?

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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