Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Wild-Card Weekend Predictions


Houston Texans vs. Cincinnati Bengals
This is a rematch of last year’s wildcard game, and should pan out to be a decent game. The Texans are playing their worst football of the year, while the Bengals are coming in hot after two impressive division wins against the Ravens and Steelers. Houston still has a ton to prove even with the playoff win last year. The Texans have yet to win a big game that matter this year, with losses to both the Packers and Patriots in primetime statement games. Also they could have locked in the bye and avoid having the possibility of going to New England for round two. Bengals have years of failed results to overcome, and this team may have already overcome too many demons in one season with a huge win to knock the Steelers out of playoff contention.
Dalton better be ready for a high dose of JJ Watt.
Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. I picked the Bengals last year, and I will not be making that mistake again. Houston is clearly missing Brian Cushing and it is beginning to show. Also Matt Schaub is still has much to prove, especially with weapons like Andre Johnson and Arian Foster. There is just nothing special about the Bengals, besides AJ Green I don’t see any game changers on this roster. I believe J.J. Watt will be a difference maker in this game and propel the Texans to the next round.

Prediction: Houston Texans 27-10

Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts

Colts return to where it all began, to face a less intimidating Baltimore defense compared to years past. Colts have to be the feel good team of the year, and Andrew Luck has proven to be ready for the big stage. No one that isn’t a Colts fan thought the Colts would make it this far, but they continue to find ways to win. On the other side the Ravens have struggled of late, and have no quality wins against a playoff team since week 3 against the Patriots. Ravens have limped into the playoffs, but still have the experience most teams don’t. I think if Ray Lewis can go for this game, it could have a huge impact, even if he is limited in what he can do. Football is a very emotional game, and I believe both teams will bring that to this game.
Chuck needs to figure out how to stop the defense he coached last season.
Right now it is hard to pick against a team that just got their coach Chuck Pagano back after a battle with cancer. The Colts are riding high after winning against Houston last week in a game that the Texans actually needed more than they did. Colts can be beat; I just think the Ravens are a little too banged up this year to get it done. It will fall on the shoulders of the Raven offense to keep up and I just don’t see Joe Flacco rising to the occasion.

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 24-16


Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Playing the same team back to back is never ideal for either team. The only difference now is that the game will be played outdoors in the cold weather of Green Bay. This just might be a bigger advantage for the Minnesota Vikings. Aaron Rodgers has still never won a playoff game at Lambeau Field and has struggled in the only two playoff games he has played in the cold (game verse Giants at Green Bay 2012 and verse the Bears in Chicago 2011). The Packers offense is clicking, but the defense still seems suspect at times. I am hoping for a solid return from Charles Woodson that will stabilize the young secondary. On the other side we can expect a ton of Adrian Peterson “All Day” throughout the game. It is a shame Adrian Peterson fell short of the record by nine yards, and I expect him to take that frustration out on the Packer defense. Minnesota has been on a must win run since week 14 and is similar to what the Giants and Packers did the last two year.
Packers will need to figure out how to stop AP.
As a Packer fan I have no choice to pick the Green Bay Packers, although I think this is going to be much 
closer than many think. The only difference the Vikings won’t be able to continue their late season success like the last two Super Bowl winners is the fact that their quarterback Christian Ponder is downright awful. Packers need to figure out how to contain Adrian Peterson, and learn to have that high power offense click outdoors. In the end I have to go with the Packers to once again break hearts in Minnesota.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 31-27

Washington Redskin vs. Seattle Seahawks

This is going to an intense battle between rookie quarterbacks, with both playing at a very high level late into the season. Quality coached teams, with creative play calling, and a solid and powerful running game on both sides. In many ways these teams are very similar; both of their quarterbacks are mobile but also have the accuracy and strength to throw the ball effectively. Alfred Morris and Marshawn Lynch are two the most consistent running backs this season. The key difference is going to be the Seattle defense. From top to bottom this just might be the best defense playing this weekend. Their defensive backs are physical and have the height of most top receivers. Their front seven find ways to bring pressure, which will be the key in stopping RG3.
At least one of these rookies will get their first playoff win.
I personally can’t stand Seattle after the fail Mary, and I find it frustrating how they have become the darlings of this year’s playoffs. With that I have to say I fear this team more than any other, they have an arrogant nature around them that gives them the swagger needed to win in this league. That same arrogance rubs me the wrong way and grows my dislike for Pete Carroll. With that all said, I believe that Seattle’s defense makes the difference and ends Robert Griffin III’s amazing season.

Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 24-21

Photos courtesy of NFL, Karen Warren, Houston Chronicle, AP Photo/AJ Mast


Upset city, not rooting for any favorites.

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