The Wildcard Weekend is upon us. The football nation eagerly awaits to see who advances. Some of the most emotional games will be played this week. Here is everything you need to know, with a devil may care twist.
Bengals at Texans
Line: Houston by 4.5
This can be a tricky game to predict, especially since the Bengals have momentum behind them. They have won 6 out of their last 7 while the Texans have lost 3 out of their last 4. Their loss to the Colts last week is especially surprising. However, the Bengals have had a cushy schedule, facing teams such as the Jaguars, Chiefs, Raiders and Chargers. The only significant match-ups were against the Ravens and the Denver.
Needless to say, they lack the talent that Houston possesses. The Texans have one of the best defensive ends in J.J. Watt. He has been a massive presence for the Texans this season. Additionally, they have Arian Foster, who is one of the best running backs in the league.
A year ago, this game was played with their third string instead of Schaub and the Texans STILL won 31-10. I’m going against the momentum that the Bengals have being building and putting my money on sheer talent.
Pick: Texans by 4.5
Vikings at Packers
Line: Green Bay by 8
This is going to be one of the most emotional games of the playoffs. I say that because the return of Lewis and #chuckstrong are strong contenders.
Theses two teams faced each other just last week. In their previous match-up, the Vikings won 37-34, with a Packers D that seemed incapable of stopping Adrian Peterson. Of course, Peterson was out for the record and his whole team rallied around, or should we say behind him. This week will be different.
Christian Ponder, is well, Christian Ponder. He ain’t no Aaron Rodgers. On top of this simple fact, Ponder is not a 100%. Ponder bruised his elbow on a helmet in last week’s game and he has been limited in practice. This will be Ponder’s first playoff game and he does not have Percy Harvin to throw to. Throw in that they are in the open frigid air at Lambeau field, rather than in Minnesota’s closed dome.
The Packers are going to be fierce. They will have the home crowd around them and their most important players back. Randall Cobb will return and Finley and Nelson are also in the lineup.
No matter how good Adrian Peterson is, you cannot win a football game by running from behind.
Pick: Packers by 8
Colts at Ravens
Line: Baltimore by 6.5
Okay, so maybe THIS is the most emotional game. Ray Lewis will return to the field for possibly his last game of his career. The Colts have Chuck Pagano back on the sidelines for his second game after battling cancer. We have one experienced team, and one young, rookie team that no one thought would get this far.
The line favors Baltimore for their experience and home field advantage. Ray Lewis won’t be as formidable as past games. I’m guessing that he’s pushing his return. The Raven’s defense has regressed this past season but they still can’t be underestimated. Flacco is too inconsistent to get a good read on.
Ray Rice and Ed Reed will be the big playmakers for the Ravens. The Colts have the third worst defense against the run and Rice is just too good. However, the Colts limited Foster and Tate last week. If Pat Angerer can show up he could make a difference for the Colts again.
Ed Reed can dismantle the Colts if Luck throws interceptions like he has been in the regular season. Luck has thrown 18 interceptions this season, the same number as Mark Sanchez. However, Luck has begun to use Ballard a lot more lately, which helps his game be a bit more elusive. He has also improved his decision-making, which has limited his interceptions in the last several games.
If Luck can keep his interceptions down and the Colts can score first they may just win. Don’t underestimate a team on a hot streak.
Seahawks at Redskins
Line: Seattle by 3
This game is a toss up amongst most analysts. Both teams have rookie quarterbacks that are on a hot streak. Seattle trounced the 49ers, while the Redskins pummeled the Cowboys.
Seattle is that typical team that plays well at home and not so much on the road. The Seahawks can beat nearly anyone in Centurylink when they have the 12th man breathing down their opponents’ necks, but they’re in Redskin territory. The Redskins are going to have their own 12th man on Sunday.
This is the first playoff game the Redskins have hosted in 13 years. Both teams have superior running backs. Lynch launches into beast mode, while Morris has become the ‘Skins own star. Additionally, both quarterbacks have used the play action more than any other quarterbacks in the league.
Defense will be the major factor in this game. The Seahawks have a much tougher defense than the Cowboys and it’s going to tear the ‘Skins read option apart.
Washington has the more experienced defensive unit but this may not matter in this match up. The winner will have the defense that can battle against the amount of play action with the upmost level of discipline.
Pick: It’s a toss up, I’m going ‘Skins
Hayley Campbell | Elite.
Model Sports Fan, aka Hayley Campbell. Yeah I’m a walking paradox; part model, part sports aficionado. Sports are my lifeblood, in particular the NFL makes my heart beat faster. Oh, and I love beer Follow her on Twitter: @modelsportsfan
Photo Credit: Getty Images