There is a line that is apropo for this time of the football year. Ive always liked the line Chuck D dropped in the obscure Janet Jackson song "New Agenda" Where he stated "Time to step it up. Step it cause its playoff time!" The time for talk is over, the pretenders and fake contender have been sent to the sidelines. After the NFL's 32 teams have played a total of 256 games and now only 12 teams are left. Eight are playing this weekend and four others are sacked out on their respective couches, barcoloungers and recliners feigning detached interest but wondering which of the four winners that they will face. The full weekend of doubleheaders starts Saturday. This is the NFL Playoffs, for the football junkies this is the where the money is made. In an interesting side note all four of the matchups, the foes have faced each other in the playoffs previously. All odds are provided by bodog.net for entertainment & comparision
NFL SCHEDULE Ė WILD CARD WEEKEND
Saturday, January 5
AFC WILD CARD PLAYOFF
#6 Cincinnati Bengals (10-6, #2 AFC Wild Card) @ #3 Houston Texans (12-4, AFC South Champion)
Reliant Stadium, Houston 4:30 (NBC)
Favorite Texans by 5
Last Week Bengals defeated Ravens 23-16, Texans lost to Colts 28-16
Previous Playoff Meetings Texans defeated Bengals 31-10 in the 2011 AFC Wild Card Round
Fast Facts CIN: Bengals have the longest playoff winless drought, their last playoff win was in the 1990 wild card round against the then Houston Oilers
Hou: Texans are 7-0 when RB Arian Foster rushes for better than 100 yards, he had 153 in the playoff meeting last year.
The Bengals, return the playoffs in their first non-strike consecutive playoff appearances with a quiet confidence and went 7-1 in the back half of their schedule to claim the wild card. The Texans on the other hand, stumbled down the stretch losing 3 of their last 4 after an 11-1 start. Matt Schaub has not played at the fearsome level he was during the Texans torrid start and the defense while still solid under the leadership of JJ Watt has suddenly gotten a bit suspect and have given up 20 or more points in their 3 late losses. The Bengals arenít offensively fierce past AJ Green being the only credible target of Red Dalton and the serviceable running of BenJarvus Green-Ellis. I know that I picked the Texans to make the Super Bowl but something keeps telling me that they are lacking confidence and if hit in the mouth early may fold. Do the Bengals finally get their first ever road playoff win here??? I cant do it! I would love to be wrong here but something tells me that the Bengals are overdue for a flat performance.
NFC WILD CARD PLAYOFF
#6 Minnesota Vikings (10-6, #2 NFC Wild Card) @ #3 Green Bay Packers (11-5, NFC North Champion)
Lambeau Field, Green Bay (8:00 NBC)
Favorite Packers by 6
Last Week Vikings defeated Packers 37-34
Previous Playoff Meeting: Vikings defeated Packers 31-17 in the 2004 NFC Wild Card Round
Fast Facts MIN: Vikings have yet to win a game outdoors this season. Their 3 road wins were at Detroit, St. Louis and Houston (closed roof) GB: In his last five games against the Vikings, QB Aaron Rodgers has completed 74.7% of his passes with 16 TDS & just 1 interception. His QB rating a blistering 132.5
The Vikings have rode the near record running of Adrian Peterson to an improbable playoff berth, winning a thrilling game against their hated rivals, they face this same team with the stakes just as high but now upped ante for both teams. The Packers have played solid pretty much all season but have a tendency to mentally wander at times. Aaron Rodgers has been his usual dependable self and directs an offense that can score in bunches. Both teams sport defenses that can play good and have fiery point men in Jared Allen for the Vikes and Clay Matthews for the Pack. The question is which Vikings QB will show up, if itís the skittish Christian Ponder that threw 2 damaging interceptions in Lambeau the Pack rolls to an easy win in spite of what running Peterson has. If itís the serviceable Ponder that kept the turnovers to nil and kept the Packers defense honest with smart throws they have a shot. Im gambling that the Vikes use Peterson to pound the rock and keep the ball away from Rodgers and company and steal a massive upset.
Sunday, January 6
AFC WILD CARD PLAYOFF
#5 Indianapolis Colts (11-5, #1 AFC Wild Card) @ #4 Baltimore Ravens (10-6 AFC North Champion)
M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Ravens by 5Ĺ
Last Week Ravens lost to Bengals 23-17, Colts defeated Texans 28-16
Playoff History: Colts have won both playoff meetings, most recently 20-3 in the 2009 AFC Divisional Round.
Fast Facts BAL: Making their 5th consecutive playoff appearance, the longest current streak in the NFL.
IND: Only 2nd team in NFL history to have made playoffs the season after winning 2 games or fewer
The Ravens sputtered down the stretch and needed a blowout of the fading G-Men to hold off the hard charging Bengals to win their division. The Colts are a team that were the feel good story of the year playing inspired ball under their coach Chuck Pagano who battled leukemia and came back late. Im nowhere near sold on Joe Flacco, he is a decent QB to be sure but I think that the Ravens offense shouldnít revolve around him as they are under utilizing the redoubtable running of the rugged Ray Rice. Andrew Luck is going to be a big time quarterback and the Colts look to be in good hands under his stewardship, but the Colts are a little over their collective heads add to boot the Baltimore crown will be extra amped watching the final home game of the incompararble Ray Lewis. The Ravens should be able to run at will on the weak Colts run defense, and the Ravens defense will be playing at a fever pitch. The Ravens should be able grind out the win with few problems.
NFC WILD CARD PLAYOFF
#5 Seattle Seahawks (11-5, #1 NFC Wild Card) @ #4 Washington Redskins (10-6, NFC East Champion)
FedEx Field; Landover, MD 4:30 (FOX)
Favorite Seahawks by 3
Last Week Seahawks defeated Rams 20-13, Redskins defeated Cowboys 28-18
Playoff History: Seahawks have won both playoff meetings most recently 35-14 in the 2007 Wild Card round
Fast Facts SEA: The Seahawks have lost their last 8 road playoff games, their only road win was their first ever playoff win against Miami in 1983.
WAS: QB Robert Griffin III set a rookie record for QB rating (104.2) and rushing yards (815)
The Redskins thumped their despised rivals in front of a deliriously happy home crowd to win their first divisional crown since late last century (Thatís not hyperbole, they last won the NFC East in 1999 when their opponent were still in the AFC) RGII has been the heart and soul of the offense but fellow rookie Alfred Morris is the underrated engine that fuels the leagues top running game. RGIII is a bit hobbled with a slightly bum knee and it has limited his scrambling potential but he is still a wily passer out of the pocket. The Seahawks have their own rookie phenom in Russell Wilson who has been playing solid all season and they have been scoring points at a frenetic pace coming down the stretch. The problem I have is that the Seahawks donít play well outside of Seattle going 3-5 with their only road wins being at Carolina, at a fading Chicago and in Toronto against the Bills which was pretty much a vanilla neutral site. I want to say the Seahawks are the one team that could give the Niners trouble. But there is something that tells me that the Redskins will be a tough team to beat at home.
Last Week: 14-2 (Lock & Upset Correct)
Regular Season Final Total: 167-88-1