There are four games in the opening weekend of the NFL Playoffs, and here in 2014 not all of those teams need to win. In fact, some of them need to lose.


The Indianapolis Colts Must Win

The first game of the playoffs features the Kansas City Chiefs visiting the Indianapolis Colts at 4:35 EST on Saturday afternoon. Last season, the Colts lost to the Ravens in the first round of the Ray Lewis Retirement Tour, and this year, it’s time for Andrew Luck to take another step forward. Not that he should go any further than the next round, mind you, but he should get there this year. It’s not just about the fact that they were the first stepping stone for the Ravens last year. It’s also because the Chiefs don’t need to go any further this year.

Andy Reid isn’t as beloved in Philly as he should be, given all that he did for them, and the way he turned around the Chiefs this season is commendable. Just getting them to the playoffs is a huge accomplishment, but any more success than a first-round appearance would set expectations too high in Chiefs fans. Simply making the playoffs next year wouldn’t be good enough, and opinion of Reid would likely begin to sour a bit. If Kansas City doesn’t advance this weekend, the Chiefs fans can be happy about having made it to the post season, and next year, a first-round victory would be seen as yet another step forward.

We must walk before we run.


The New Orleans Saints Must Win

After Bountygate all but ruined last season, and talk of the Saints not being able to win on the road, it’s time for Drew Brees and Sean Payton to remind people that they’re one of the best teams in the NFC, regardless of where the game is held. And Eagles fans should just be happy to have been this year’s benefactors of the Dallas Cowboy Week 17 Collapse. They’ve got a new head coach, a somewhat gimmicky offensive gameplan, and a penchant for getting extremely annoying when things start to go their way. Maybe Nick Foles, Chip Kelly, and his offense are legit. Maybe they’ll have a long string of successful seasons yet to come, but post season success doesn’t need to start Year One.

A.J. Green,  Andy Dalton

The Cincinnati Bengals Must Win

As a franchise, the Bengals haven’t won a playoff game in a very long time. They were undefeated at home this season, a perfect 8-0. The Chargers just barely made the playoffs, and they were 4-4 on the road this season. Andy Dalton is a very good QB, and any number of NFL teams would be lucky to have him. Yet, he doesn’t get the praise he deserves, and this playoff victory would go a long way towards raising his stature in the league. It would also help NFL fans realize that the team has a really good defense, an exciting young runningback, and one of the best wide receivers in the league.


The Green Bay Packers Must Win

It’s disappointing when the team who loses in the Super Bowl the year prior has a disappointing end to the next season. The 49ers made the playoffs, so they’re ahead of a few previous “Super Bowl Also Ran” teams. But what frustrates me even more is when a team does really well, like the 15-1 Packers team, and then loses in the first round. That year, Aaron Rodgers didn’t play in Week 17 and the Packers had a bye in the first round of the playoffs, so it’s no huge shock that they lost to the red hot New York Giants that week. Now the Packers are in a totally different situation, with both Rodgers and Cobb having returned and Eddie Lacy looking healthy enough to make a big difference. Green Bay looks primed to reclaim their place as one of the NFC’s elite teams. By beating the 49ers, the Packers will get redemption for having to play the 49ers in San Francisco during their Week 1 meeting this season and in the playoffs last season.