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Breaking Down the NFL Playoffs: Wildcard Edition

Prior to the start of the NFL season, I predicted the outcome of each division as well as Wildcard teams, and end of season awards.  I nailed all four AFC divisions but failed to name the Bengals and Colts Wildcard teams.  Over in the NFC, the New Orleans Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles really let me down.  But to my defense, I did clarify that the Eagles can only win if Michael Vick & CO. stayed healthy, which they didn't.  I am proud to say that I, like everyone else, predicted that Tony Romo would continue to disappoint and the Cowboys would miss the playoff...AGAIN!  In the NFC North, I was right about the Lions and Bears BOTH missing the playoffs, but failed to even talk about the Vikings.  I underestimated the Falcons heading into the season, but they still have to prove themselves in the Playoffs.  They can go 16-0 every year for all I care, but until they win a playoff game, they have proved nothing.  And just as I said, the NFC West was taken by the 49ers while the Seahawks earned a Wildcard berth. 

Seattle Seahawks @ Washington Redskins

Sunday January 6th, 2013 @ 4:30 PM ET on FOX

Mike - If this game was being played in Seattle then this would be a no brainer, Seahawks win big at home.  However, this game will be played in D.C where the fans have waited a long time to host a playoff game.  This will be a battle of two rookie QBs who have big arms and great speed.  In all 5 of their loses this season which all came on the road, the Seahawks have lost by 7 or less points.  The Redskins have no lost since week 9.  In so many ways this game is so even. Similar QBs, similar RBs, similar WRs, but the one big difference is the defenses. The Seahawks rank 4th in total defense where the Redskins rank 28th.  If you watched the Sunday Night Football game between the Redskins and Cowboys, you noticed RG3 had a significant limp when he scrambled and didn't have the explosiveness he needed to take off for those long runs.  Between Seattles big edge on defense, and RG3 limited with his knee injury, the Seahawks will walk out of Washington victorious. Seahawks win 23-20

Keith - The Seahawks and Redskins have nearly identical teams and styles of play, but since this game is being played outside of Seattle, I will go with the Washington Redskins.  The Seahawks were just 3-5 on the road and Russell Wilson had 8 of his 10 interceptions on the road while throwing for just 9 TDs (17 at home).  Robert Griffin III and Alfred Moris will struggle to gain yards on the ground, but RGIII will run that option to perfection as usual and figure out the best way to beat the Seahawks.  Redskins win 24-20


Indianapolis Colts @ Baltimore Ravens

Sunday January 6th, 2013 @ 1:00 PM ET on CBS

Mike - As much as I would love to see the Colts win this game, I know it wont happen. Colts went 11-5 this season thanks to a easy schedule (wins against - Browns, Titans, Dolphins, Jaguars, Bills, Lions, Titans, Chiefs). Yes they did beat the Texans in week 17 but it wasn't a win or go home for the Texans and they also beat the Packers and Vikings early on in the season. There is no way I can pick a rookie QB to go into Baltimore and beat the veteran defense of the Ravens. Andrew Luck had a great season but he did throw 18 interceptions and fumbled the ball 10 times.  That spells disaster against the Ravens. The Colts have given up the 4th most rushing yards this season and the Ravens will use that to their advantage with Rice and Pierce.  Ed Reed will make a game changing INT late in this game. Ravens win 27-21

Keith - There was no chance in hell I would have said the Colts would win a Playoff game this year if you asked me back in August.  Now?  There is no way they will lose this game!  They have only become a better team as the season rolled along, Chuck Pagano is back and the motivation is now standing on the sideline.  The Ravens do not impress me or scare me on either side of the ball while we all will be rooting for Andrew Luck and the Colts to ride this ship as long as we can, Chuck Strong! Colts win 27-23

Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans

Saturday January 5th, 2013 @ 4:30 PM ET on NBC

Mike - These same two teams met last year in the AFC Wild Card round, with the Bengals losing on the road against the Texans 31-10.  The Texans beat the Bengals by 21 despite having T.J. Yates at QB because Schaub was nursing an injury. Sure the Bengals have improved at RB this year with the addition of Green-Ellis but he won't be enough of a difference maker to beat the Texans.  Dalton has another year of experience under his belt so I don't think he'll throw 3 picks like last year but he will be under a lot of pressure from the Texans defense led by J.J Watt.  At the end of the day, it will be too much Watt, Foster and Andre Johnson for the Bengals to handle.  Texans win 31-17

Keith - How can you go against the Texans who were 6-2 at home?  Wait the Bengals were 6-2 on the road this year?  The Bengals outscored their opponents by 71 points while the Texans were outscored by 30 points?  Yeah, I will take the Bengals in this one!  Cincy is 7-1 in their last 8 games and you have to ride the hot team in the NFL playoffs. Bengals win 27-21

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers

Saturday January 5th, 2013 @ 8:0 PM ET on NBC

Mike - This will be the third match up of the year between these two teams and the second in two weeks.  In week 13 the Packers beat the Vikings 23-14 at home despite giving up 210 yards on the ground to Adrian Peterson, and just last week, the Vikings beat the Packers at home 37-34 despite allowing Aaron Rodgers to throw for 365 yards and 4 TDs.  I honestly believe the Vikings have a chance to win this game and it all comes down to how well Christian Ponder plays.  In week 13, Ponder was 12/25 for 119 yards 1 TD and 2 INTs, and in week 17 Ponder was great - 16/28 for 234 yards 3 TDs 0 INTs.  We all know nobody can stop Adrian Peterson and especially the Packers, as Peterson has run for 409 yards and 2 TDs in 2 games against Green Bay. So if Ponder can have a repeat performance then the Vikings will win this game.  However I don't see it happening, without Percy Harvin the Vikings really have no standouts at the position.  Packers can focus on stacking the box against Peterson and will rely on Rodgers to spread the ball around to Jennings, Nelson, Cobb, Jones and Finley as the Packers haven't had a 100 yard rusher in 40+ games. Packers win 31-20

Keith -  The Vikings surprised everyone this year by clinching a playoff berth, but last weeks win over the Packers, which knocked out the Bears, was not something Minnesota can easily repeat.  The Vikes scored 30+ points just 4 times all year, including last week, and they will have to do it in back to back weeks against the same opponent if they want to upset the Packers.  The stats heavily favor the Packers.  Green Bay is the #9 passing attack in the NFL this year while the Vikings are the 24th in pass defense.  Minnesota is #2 in rushing offense but the Packers are an average run defense (17th).  The Vikings lack of an aeriel attack makes this a difficult game to win at Lambeau Field.  The Packers offense can score in just minutes while the Vikings need long sustained drives. Packers win 37 - 24