NFL playoffs kick off Saturday with weather playing a key role

Jan. 3, 2014 at 8:31 PM
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INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- The NFL playoffs begin Saturday with the playing of the first two of the 11 games that will eventually determine the winner of the 48th Super Bowl.

Although the opener of those 11 games will take place indoors, weather will likely be a factor this weekend and perhaps all the way through to the title game -- which has league officials holding their collective breath since it will be played in the open air across the Hudson River from Manhattan.

Before the NFL champion can be determined, however, the weeding out process must take place and that begins Saturday with Indianapolis hosting the Kansas City Chiefs.

New Orleans will visit Philadelphia in the second of Saturday's games and on Sunday Cincinnati will be at home against San Diego and San Francisco will visit Green Bay.

Denver, New England, Seattle and Charlotte have all earned a bye into the divisional round of the playoffs and will not have to take the field until next week.

Five of this year's Super Bowl contenders did not make the playoffs a year ago and the most surprising of the turnaround seasons was produced by Kansas City.

The Chiefs won only twice in 2012 and lost 12 of their last 13 games. But with a new coach (Andy Reid) and new quarterback (Alex Smith), the Chiefs won 11 times and captured one of their meetings with Denver.

Kansas City will meet an Indianapolis club that cruised to a four-game victory in the weak AFC South. Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck will be looking for his first post-season victory after the Colts were eliminated at this stage of the playoffs a year ago by eventual champion Baltimore.

Philadelphia will host Saturday's second game in temperatures that will be dropping through the 20s during the contest.

The Eagles put together the second-best offensive showing of the season behind the record-setting effort authored by the Denver Broncos. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, however, threw for 322 yards per contest. That was runner-up to Denver's Peyton Manning.

A mix of rain and snow is in the forecast for Sunday when San Diego meets Cincinnati. The Bengals have not won a playoff game since 1988, having lost their last five post-season contests.

The game will bring together two of the 14 current NFL clubs that have never won a Super Bowl.

The worst of the weather will be saved for the weekend's final game. Kickoff temperature in Green Bay is expected to be near zero with a wind chill of 20 below.

San Francisco hosted Green Bay in last year's second round with the 49ers downing the Packers by 14 en route to a Super Bowl trip.

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