02 January 2013

2013 NFL Playoffs: Wild Card Picks

And just like that, here we are at the 2013 NFL Playoffs. The first of four games in the Wild Card round kicks off on Saturday afternoon, and the winners from each conference will advance to take on the clubs that got byes as a result of their work in the regular season. So whose Super Bowl dream will remain intact after this weekend? Here are my Wild Card predictions.

Week 17: 8-8
2012: 156-101

Saturday, January 5
Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) vs. Houston Texans (12-4) - NBC, 4:30
Full disclosure: I picked the Texans to win the Super Bowl. That said, having watched the Texans play like crap down the stretch, losing three out of four by more than a touchdown to close the season, I have no confidence they could go to Foxborough and avenge the blowout loss from December 10th. But you know what, I do not even think they will get out of the first in this rematch of last year's Wild Card matchup with the Bengals. There's no question that the Bengals are the inferior club overall but they will come out on top as Andy Dalton will make some big throws to A.J. Green and a very good Bengals defense will get Matt Schaub to make some mistakes as he has been very charitable with his interceptions.
Bengals 24 Texans 21

Minnesota Vikings (10-6) vs. Green Bay Packers (11-5) - NBC, 8:00
The deal with the Green Bay Packers is that they appear to be a real contender for another Lombardi Trophy when they are not shooting themselves in the foot and digging themselves, and we saw that occur on Sunday against Minnesota, where early mistakes and overall aloofness (actually word, by the word) led to the Vikings taking a 13-0 lead that the Pack was never able to overcome. But of course, when you have a guy like Adrian Peterson kicking ass and taking names and when your erratic quarterback, Mr. Samantha Steele (lucky bastard) throws a trio of touchdown passes, that's tough to beat. That said, I think the Packers have a chip on their shoulder after losing a game in which the other team had more to play for and it showed and most importantly for them, I don't see Christian Ponder playing as well as he did this past week. I think the return of Charles Woodson for Green Bay will play a big role in that.
Packers 31 Vikings 28

Sunday, January 6
Indianapolis Colts (11-5) vs. Baltimore Ravens (10-6) - CBS, 1:00
Chuck Pagano returned on Sunday to coach the Colts in his return from his absence due to his leukemia diagnosis and the Colts did what they have been doing all season, relying on Andrew Luck's arm, get lucky on some turnovers and overall have a good time. Unfortunately, the nice story that has gone on in Indianapolis this season will come to an end this Sunday afternoon as they will lose to the Ravens. Teams can only go so far with smoke and mirrors and a much more experienced Ravens team will pound the rock with Ray Rice and their defense will get after Luck and force some turnovers. You know, like the good old days.
Ravens 27 Colts 17

Seattle Seahawks (11-5) vs. Washington Redskins (10-6) - FOX, 4:30
So yeah, Robert Griffin III put the Redskins on his back and carried them into the postseason with a seven game winning streak. Actually, that's not entirely true as Alf Morris had a brilliant season, the best rushing campaign in team history, a patchwork defense held up just enough down the stretch and Mike Shanahan got a lot out of this club to host their first playoff game in quite a while. It's a shame that their season will come to an end on Sunday afternoon. Yes, I understand that the Seahawks have lost eight straight road postseason matchups, but I love what this team brings to the table. Pete Carroll's infectious energy has caught on as he has helped build an awesome defense that is aggressive and forces turnovers and has the ability to slow down Griffin the third. Also, an underrated offense that pounds the ground with Marshawn Lynch has been taken to new heights by Russell Wilson and a dangerous read option that will chew up a crap Skins defense.
Seahawks 33 Redskins 26

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