It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, not a cheesy Christmas song by Andy Williams. It’s playoff time! Wild-Card weekend in the NFL is a big opening to the postseason: The Giants and Pack both won their first round games en route to the last two Super Bowl Championships. Will there be a Super Bowl champ out of the wild-card teams this year? Let’s cut to the chase! First, the picks update:
- Week 17: 13-3
- Season: 177-79
- Bengals vs Texans: Welcome to the big-time Matt Schaub. The Texans started off hot on the year, cooled off a little, but are now ready for the bright lights. Remember, last year Schaub was out with an injury and Houston fell short without their star QB. This is the biggest game of his career, and it will be interesting to see if he’s ready for the challenge. Bengals QB Andy Dalton must make up for last year’s three-pick performance, but if his season is any indication, he will turn it around for this rematch. Cincy went 7-1 to finish the year, the Texans ended their season with a 1-3 slide in the last four games. All signs may point to a Cincy upset, but I’m not going that far. How is the Bengals’ mediocre run game going to perform against the defensive MVP of the league, J.J. Watt? Can A.J. Green make a big enough impact? And can the secondary stop Andre Johnson? Poorly, probably not, and not enough. It’ll be close, but Houston has the edge. The Pick: Texans 23, Bengals 14
- Vikings vs Packers. The Saturday night matchup is a rematch of…. last week. That’s how quick of a turnaround these two will face after last week’s thrilling victory by Minnesota on a game-winning field goal with time expiring. Look for this week to be a different story. I don’t trust Christian Ponder in the regular season in the dome against the Bills or Cardinals, let alone his playoff debut in the frozen tundra of Green Bay against a team that won a Super Bowl two years ago. Adrian Peterson will put up a 100-yard performance, but Aaron Rodgers will throw a TD to both James Jones and Jordy Nelson, adding one on the ground as well along the way. The Pick: Packers 24, Vikings 13
- Colts vs Ravens: Perhaps the most emotional and inspirational game in wild-card round history, both teams have a lot on the line Sunday. First there’s Indy, a team with so much pride in their coach Chuck Pagano, who has battled leukemia all season and returned to the sideline last Sunday as the Colts gutted out a win. Indy has sure announced their arrival into the playoffs with rookie quarterback Andrew Luck leading the way along with a stellar defense backing them up. On the other side, Baltimore has something extra to play for as well. Legendary linebacker Ray Lewis, perhaps the greatest captain in NFL history, announced on Wednesday that the postseason will be his last ride, retiring after the playoffs. There is no questioning the impact Ray Lewis has on this football team, and we saw it when the Ravens slid a little during his injury. His return to the active roster gives these Ravens a big boost. Lewis is one of the few players in the league who can lift a team by just being out there on the field. Baltimore’s defense will improve for this one. As for a winner? I think the Colts are the team of destiny right now. That doesn’t mean they’ll win the Super Bowl necessarily, but it means that they will give New England and Denver a run for their money. Playing for Pagano has certainly gotten Indy far, why are they going to be stopped now by a Baltimore team that was much better last year? The Pick: Colts 28, Ravens 20
- Seahawks vs Redskins: The game everyone has an opinion on will be the final game of the weekend. Two rookie quarterbacks face off as Russell Wilson of Seattle takes on Washington’s Robert Griffin III, RGIII. Everyone reading the blog regularly knows I love RGIII. He is arguably the most exciting player in the NFL and has brought the Redskins out of mediocrity and back to January football. But the magic ends here for Griffin. Seattle is the best team in the league right now, they are blowing good teams out of the water (including San Francisco), and Russell Wilson pairing up with Marshawn Lynch in the backfield has worked wonders for the Seahawks. I’m going to make a very bold statement right here: The Seattle Seahawks will win the NFC Championship and go to the Super Bowl. It’s going to happen, ready or not. The Pick: Seahawks 31, Redskins 13
Yup, some bold predictions for this week, you’ve read it all here! Enjoy the wild-card games everybody.