NFL Playoff Preview – Wild Card Weekend

My final record for the regular season as far as picking the correct winner of a game without a spread was: 166-89. I’m at least sure that that is close to Scottie and Matt so I’ll take solace in that.

Wild Card weekend 2013 is approaching in two days and there are some interesting matchups that could make for some fantastic Divisional Round games. There is so much to talk about when you look at the teams playing this weekend, so let’s get to it.

Saturday, January 5th at 4:30pm ET – Cincinatti Bengals @ Houston Texans

For me, this is the least interesting game of the bunch but it’s still appealing considering the Texan’s late season difficulties in winning. The Texans have lost two straight and while they are the favorite in this game, with home field advantage, it’s still a very winnable game for the Bengals.arian_foster_2

For a team that was in first place in the AFC for 16 weeks of the season, the Texans seem to have peaked too early. While I think that any of the other 4 AFC playoff teams would have posed a harder matchup than the Bengals, they still have a good team on their hands to deal with. The bright side for them is that Bengals Andy Dalton hasn’t been playing well lately and the man that is carrying the Bengals offense, Benjarvis Green-Ellis, will be up against the Texans NFL 7th ranked rush defense. If the Texans can contain Green-Ellis, they will be in a great position. While the Bengal’s always have that bomb to AJ Green in their back pocket, if Houston can contain the run they can focus more on a turnover-prone Dalton and take advantage of his mistakes.

The Texans have more than the sufficient tools to get the job done, they just need to execute. I can’t confidently pick against them in this matchup, so:

Winner: Houston Texans

 

Saturday, January 5th at 8:00pm ET – Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers

Green Bay defeated Minnesota in Green Bay 23-14 in week 13 of the regular season. Minnesota defeated Green Bay in Minnesota 37-34 just last week in week 17 of the regular season. Since that week 13th game, Minnesota has not lost and is on a four-game winning streak. In both of the times that these teams met this season, Adrian Peterson, the potential MVP of the league, has gone crazy. Week 13: 210 yards and 1 TD. Week 17: 199 yards and 1 TD.

la-sp-sn-adrian-peterson-rushing-record-201212-002Aaron Rodgers had a great game in their loss to the Vikings and an OK game in the win. That tells me that the Packers don’t absolutely need Rodgers to have a career-game to win and that isn’t really anything new when you look at the Packers as a team.

Christian Ponder went 16/28 and threw for 234 yards, 3 TD’s and no interceptions in the Vikings win last week.

Christian Ponder went 12/25 and threw for 119 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT’s in the Vikings loss in week 13.

Assuming that Peterson is going to gain his crazy yardage and at least one rushing TD, it seems that the Vikings need Ponder to perform well and not turn the ball over to win this game.

This is a fantastic divisional matchup and should be an exciting game that will probably come down to the wire and I can’t wait to watch it. I’m going with the more balanced team on this one and choosing:

Winner: Green Bay Packers

Sunday, January 6th at 1:00pm ET – Indianapolis Colts @ Baltimore Ravens

The Colts are coming off of a big win against the, at the time, first place Houston Texans. The Ravens are a beat up team that still managed to win their division. The Ravens had a much better first half of the season at 6-2 and a second half at 4-4. The Colts have won 5 of their last 6 games coming into this week with a rookie Quarterback who broke the record for most rookie passing yards on a season with 4,373.luckvikings

When you look at average yards against per game, both Passing and Rushing, neither team are fantastic but Baltimore gets the defensive edge by quite a bit. That speaks to how poor the Colts defense is.

I would really really love to see the Colts win this and have a Broncos/Colts second round matchup with a Manning/Luck game in Denver. I have a gut feeling that the Ravens pull this one out due to their experience and of course due to Ray Rice. The Ravens win with one of those Torrey Smith 60 yard TD throws and 20+ carries from Ray Rice, I think. But I’m going to go with the hot hand and the momentum and hope for a dramatic second round matchup:

Winner: Indianapolis Colts

 

 

Sunday, January 6th at 4:30pm ET – Seattle Seahawks @ Washington Redskins

The battle of the rookie Quarterbacks: Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III.

Russell Wilson tied Peyton Manning for most TD passes for a rookie and RG3 broke Cam Newton’s record for most rushing yards by a rookie QB. Seattle has a better record at 11-5 over Washington’s 10-6 but Washington takes home field advantage and the higher seed as they won their division.

Seattle is on a 5 game win streak while Washington is on a 7 game win streak.

dm_121129_nfl_griffin_top_jerseyThis should be a great game with a lot of rushing yards. Seattle takes the overall defensive advantage in this one and Washington has a marginal offensive advantage. Washington’s defense will do their best to make Russell Wilson beat them through the air as you can guarantee they focus to stop Wilson and Lynch on the ground. Seattle will have a similar plan with Morris and RG3’s rushing being the main source of offense for Washington. Does this come down to which Quarterback has a better game passing the ball without turning it over?

In the end, while both teams’ offenses have been putting up impressive point totals in the past few weeks, I think that Seattle’s defense will do enough to limit the scoring that RG3 will conjure up.

Winner: Seattle

 

 

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