Last Week: 10-6
2011 regular season: 162-93
Sat., Jan. 7th:
Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans (NBC, 4:30)
These two teams met back on December 11th with a game-winning drive engineered by T.J. Yates winning it for the Texans. But Yates has been terrible since and the Texans have really struggled as well, losing out thereafter. Houston is going to rely on Arian Foster and Ben Tate to move the offense but the Bengals are very good against the run and will force Yates to beat them, which I don't think he can. The Bengals have more balance on their offense as Cedric Benson put together a solid year and Andy Dalton was very impressive in his rookie campaign. Houston has a very good defense but Cincinnati will score just enough for the win.
Bengals 14 Texans 10
Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints (NBC, 8:00)
I'm expecting a defensive game here. Actually not at all of course, there will be a lot of passing yards for both teams. This will be the first ever matchup in the playoffs of two 5,000 passing yard quarterbacks and Matthew Stafford and Drew Brees are two of the most prolific passers in the league. And neither team is great at running the ball either. Plus neither team is good at all in stopping the pass. So this will be a relatively even matchup but in my opinion, the experience and even-keel attitude of this Saints club will give them the advantage.
Saints 45 Lions 38
Sun., Jan. 8th:
Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants (Fox, 1:00)
Eli Manning of late has been tremendous, actually more of in the Dallas game, but he has had a great season and his receiving units, particularly the out-of-nowhere Victor Cruz who has been spectacular, is pretty deep. They have a couple of good running backs and Ahmad Bradshaw has been solid when healthy. And their defensive line is the best in the NFL. So why am I going to pick the Falcons? Two reasons: Matt Ryan has been awesome of late and I picked them to win the Super Bowl. Great reasoning, eh?
Falcons 28 Giants 24
Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos (CBS, 1:00)
The power of Tim Tebow has really seemed to fall off now that the Broncos lost their last three of the regular season and only getting in the playoffs thanks to the Raiders laying an egg to the Chargers. It seems that teams have caught up with Tebow and this offense, even though Willis McGahee has been able to run the ball very well still. The Steelers' defense will have nothing to do with Tebow and he'll have another awful performance. What will make the game close is because the Steelers offense will become one-dimensional with Rashard Mendenhall out unless someone steps up and the Steelers could really struggle if Ben Roethlisberger is not healthy.
Steelers 17 Broncos 12