The NFL Playoffs – Wildcard Round



Seattle Seahawks (11-5) vs. Washington Redskins (10-6)

There is very little debate amongst the experts that this is going to be an exciting game.  People were rooting for a matchup of Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson all week leading up to the Week 17 games that would determine the playoff seeds…unless you were a Cowboys fan!  These rookie quarterbacks have caught the imagination of the NFL viewing public with their superb play and great scrambling ability.  Hell I’d tune in just to watch the two of them battle in a 40 yard dash and I don’t even watch the track events in the Olympics!


Even though Seattle has the better record, they are the wild card team and have to travel across the country to play in DC.  The NFL gave Seattle a break by putting the game on Sunday and at 4:30 eastern time so they don’t lose a day of preparation or have to play the early game.  Going in to yesterday, the Seahawks were the hottest team in the NFL.  They had beaten Arizona 58-0, Buffalo 50-17 and San Francisco 42-13 in the previous three games.  They came back to Earth against the Rams and only won 20-13 and have won five games in a row since last losing at Minnesota 24-21.  Russell Wilson finished his rookie regular season with 3,118 yards passing with 26 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and an even 100 quarterback rating.  He added 489 yards rushing along with 4 rushing touchdowns.  Marshawn Lynch has been a beast himself this season, finishing with 1590 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns for a 5.0 YPC average.  Seattle’s defense led the league in scoring allowed, giving up just 15.3 PPG.


The Redskins have been led by two rookies this season.  Of course, the first is Heisman Trophy winning QB Robert Griffin III, whom the Redskins traded up with the Rams in order to draft.  The second is rookie RB Alfred Morris.  Morris led the Skins with 1610 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns for a 4.8 yards per carry average…extremely close to the same numbers that Marshawn Lynch put up for Seattle.  RGIII got the majority of the attention though for his 3200 yards passing with 20 TDs, 5 INTs and a 102.4 QB rating to go along with 815 yards rushing and 7 rushing TDs.  Slightly better numbers than Russell Wilson but again, very similar.  The difference in this game could end up coming down to the defenses.  The Redskins defense has been decimated with injuries and has given up 24.2 points per game.

My prediction – Redskins 24 – Seahawks 21.  I think the crowd is going to give the Redskins a good home field advantage and I trust Shanahan in the playoffs more than I do Pete Carroll but this is definitely going to be a game that I want to watch!


Minnesota Vikings (10-6) vs. Green Bay Packers (11-5)

Adrian Peterson has rushed for 400 yards in the two games against the Packers this season.  Sunday he led the Vikings to win over the Packers to get Minnesota in the playoffs but fell 9 yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson’s record for most yards in a season.  AP is a machine.  Unfortunately, the Vikings don’t really have anything else going for them on offense.  Christian Ponder is not a very good quarterback and I would not trust him with the bright lights and pressure in a playoff situation.  The Vikings were at home with a crazy loud crowd, were playing for their football lives and got a superhuman performance from Adrian Peterson and still needed a FG as time expired to win the game.

The Packers, on the other hand, played a horrible game for most of Sunday before finally getting into a groove offensively in the second half.  It appears that Greg Jennings may finally be healthy after missing or being ineffective the entire season due to a groin injury.  Jennings had two touchdowns Sunday in the loss.  Randall Cobb missed the game but might be available for the playoff game.  The Packers missed him dearly.  After a horrible start to the season, the Packers have been nearly unbeatable the rest of the season even with no running game and a banged up defense.

My prediction – Packers 38 – Vikings 24.  Green Bay is at home. It is awfully hard to beat the same team two weeks in a row in the NFL.  The Vikings will not be as amped up as they were last week.  Christian Ponder in the playoffs is just a train wreck waiting to happen.  The Packers are just simply the better team especially if they are any healthier than they were last week.




Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) vs. Houston Texans (12-4)

This is a wildcard round matchup that no one predicted even 2 or 3 weeks ago.  The Texans seemingly had the #1 seed locked up in the AFC and somehow find a way to play so poorly down the stretch that they ended up the #3 seed and not even getting a bye week.  They got humiliated in New England 42-14 on Monday night football.  The Vikings went into Houston and dominated them 23-6.  Then with #1 seed on the line and the right to get a week off with a bye, they went into Indianapolis last week and laid an egg losing 28-16.  The Bengals on the other hand have been on a roll the last month of the season beating the Steelers and Ravens and have won 7 out of their last 8 games (albeit mostly against very bad teams).

The Texans are led on offense by Arian Foster, the best running back in the AFC.  Foster finished the year with 1424 yards rushing for 15 TDs and 217 yards receiving for 2 TDs.  Andre Johnson had 112 receptions for 1598 yards but only 4 TDs.  Foster and Johnson helped make the Texans look unbeatable the first 12 weeks of the season but Foster only had 18 yards rushing against the Vikings 2 weeks ago and may be slowing down from the wear and tear of the last couple of seasons.  The defense was lights out the first 12 weeks as well as JJ Watt finished the season with 20.5 sacks.  The defense has not been good at all the last few weeks however and that is scary heading into the playoffs with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning lurking in the future if the Texans can advance.

The Bengals are in the playoffs two years in a row for the first time in ages.  They started off the season very sluggish before that 7 wins in 8 games launched them into the playoffs.  It’s amazing what an easy schedule can do for a struggling team.  Andy Dalton captains the offense with 3669 yards passing to go along with 27 TDs and 16 INTs for a QB rating of 87.4.  Dalton’s favorite target is WR standout AJ Green.  Green finished the season with 1350 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns.  The Law Firm (BenJarvis Green-Ellis) finished with 1094 yards rushing and 6 TDs.  While the Texans top players on offense are better than the Bengals…defensively, the teams are practically even as Cincy gave up 20 pts per game and the Texans gave up 20.7 PPG.

My Prediction – Bengals 28 – Texans 20.  In the NFL, I just don’t think you can flip a switch and suddenly go back to playing well.  The Texans have played like garbage the last month while the Bengals have been on a roll.  I’m going with the upset because I don’t think the Texans can recover from falling to the #3 seed and losing the bye week advantage.  If they do beat the Bengals, they will just get whipped next week anyway.


Indianapolis Colts (11-5) vs. Baltimore Ravens (10-6)

This is an intriguing matchup for the wildcard round.  The Colts started in Baltimore and moved to Indianapolis in the middle of the night breaking Baltimore’s heart.  Then the Cleveland Browns did the same thing to Cleveland and relocated to Baltimore but they let Cleveland keep the Browns name and heritage.  No one expected the Colts to be here this season.  They were the worst team in football last year and took Andrew Luck with the 1st pick in the draft…a move that paved the way for the Colts to say goodbye to injured QB Peyton Manning.  So the Colts start the season with a rookie QB and then promptly lose their head coach for most of the season due to leukemia.  Yet, here the Colts are with a better record than the Ravens heading into this game.

The Colts have gotten good but not great play from Andrew Luck this season: 4374 yards passing and 23 TDs but 18 INTs and a QB rating of only 76.5.  The Colts have mostly won on sheer guts and determination and a Chuckstrong motivation to win for their coach.  The rumors of Reggie Wayne’s demise were greatly exaggerated as he bounced back with 106 receptions for 1355 yards and 5 TDs.  TY Hilton has come from out of nowhere to be a good punt return guy and chip in with 50 receptions for 861 yards and 7 TDs.  However, Indy still struggles to find a consistent rushing attack which could prove fatal in the playoffs.

The Ravens are the quintessential Jeckyl and Hyde team.  You just never know what you are going to get until the game starts.  Joe Flacco is the main reason for that.  Flacco has 3817 yards passing but only 22 TDs.  On the bright side, he has only thrown 10 INTs and has a QB rating of 87.7 so it could be argued that he has had a better season than Andrew Luck.  However, he’s also had 9 fumbles and 7 games that were just absolutely ugly…including games against horrible teams (Chiefs and Browns).  It got so bad offensively for the Ravens down the stretch, they fired their OC.  In the first game after the firing, Ray Rice needed to have an APB put out for him to be found.  Rice finished the year with 1143 yards rushing for 9 TDs and 478 yards receiving for 1 TD.  The Ravens still have a respectable defense but it isn’t the same as the early part of the 2000s when they were the most feared defense since the 1985 Bears.  They have lost 4 out of their last 5 games including to the Charlie Batch led Steelers!!!!

My prediction – Colts 17 – Ravens 14.  I don’t expect a huge game out of Andrew Luck in his first postseason action.  However, I don’t trust Joe Flacco and like I said with the Texans, I just don’t think a team can flip the switch and automatically start playing well after stinking for the last month of the season.


One response to “The NFL Playoffs – Wildcard Round”

  1. Jimbo Avatar

    I agree with your picks, Jim….I do think Seattle might have the best chance to win that match-up; RGIII at home will be tough….Seattle’s Wilson will finally get some national exposure to show just how good he is…I do like your two road winners in Cincy and Indy…Cincy’s D-Line will be another difficult match-up for opponents…pass-rush is crucial to win. Luck’s first playoff game will be a challeneg, but with Wayne’s leadership and a revived run-game with Ballard, I see them wearing down the Ravens aging defense…I think Green Bay will win at home, spending all week game-planning AP…I see a relatively easy win for the Packers…

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