Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans
The Bengals have had somewhat of a rocky season. They’ve looked like a team that will be contending for the Superbowl in the AFC in some games, but have also looked as if they should probably be picking in the top half of the draft against lesser competition. As many other teams have dealt with injuries or for other reasons taken steps back in toward the end of the season they have been flourishing.
The Houston Texans have looked amazing against horrible teams. They have played some decent teams close and have been trounced against some of the top competition. They are one of the teams that have been fading down the stretch, winning close games against much lesser competition and losing most games against solid opponents.
This rematch of last year’s playoff opener should be a good game to watch. I feel that Cincinnati’s strong defensive line will be able to help neutralize the pass game while the rest of the team does enough to help the Bengals overtake the Texans. I feel as if the game will be much closer than the score, but will be 27-13 in the Bengals favor.
Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers
Minnesota has been surprising teams and football fans all season long. They played well enough and beat the right teams to earn their first berth in the playoffs since Brett Favre’s last full season.
The Packers have dealt with a plethora of injuries this season and have come out as champions of the NFC North. Due to their loss to the Vikings in Week 17 of the regular season (and a play that will forever stand in infamy as the “Intertoucheption”) they have been relegated to the #3 seed in their respective conference and must play in the wildcard round.
This game is going to be a hard hitting match between bitter rivals. Green Bay would seem to have the edge being that they are at home, but the weather is expected to be below freezing and that usually lends the edge to the team with the better run game. This advantage clearly goes to Minnesota. That being said, I do not think the Packers will lose to the Vikings twice in two weeks, Packers on top 31-20.
Indianapolis Colts @ Baltimore Ravens
Clearly the best turn around in the league this season, the Andrew Luck led Colts are a team that will continue to get better. The lack of a powerful running game definitely hurt them this season, but the poise and precision of Luck has helped the team overcome this disadvantage.
The Ravens are recently one of the most disappointing teams in the entire NFL. They have a horrible habit of playing well in the regular season (or at least well enough to make the playoffs) and then faltering against teams it seems they should have a great chance of defeating. This is one of the teams that has been faltering down the stretch.
The Colts defense is not very good, Ray Rice should have a monster game. If Joe Flacco is at all accurate this could turn into a blowout. Andrew Luck will make some plays, along with Reggie Wayne, but the Ravens should topple the Colts. I am going to say it is a high-scoring and close game with a final score of 37-31.
Seattle Seahawks @ Washington Redskins
I think many would agree with me when I say that Seattle has been a surprise team this season. Russell Wilson has been phenomenal when it comes to rookie quarterback standards and Marshawn Lynch is quietly continuing his run as one of the most effective running backs in the league. The real story has been the defense, which has played incredible all season and will be at full strength now that Brandon Browner is back from a PED suspension.
The Redskins have their own stud rookie quarterback and a surprise 6th round stud running back in Alfred Morris. The addition of Pierre Garcon in the offseason was a stroke of genius, making their wide receiver corps arguably as solid as any left in the playoffs. Even better news for this team is because of the threat of their run game many times their receivers create separation with ease.
The biggest issue in this game will be the battle between Seattle’s DBs and Washington’s WRs. If they can bottle up the pass catchers as well as they have most of the season they should coast to a win. In my opinion, they are not completely shut out but Seattle earns the win in a close game. Final score of 24-20.