Next up, Wild Card Weekend and the games are looking lovely. Things couldn't be better unless your team happens to be at home for the playoffs. Let's jump right in and see if we can pick some winners.
Cincinnati @ Houston - I think this is the best way to start the weekend off. The Bengals travel to Houston with hopes of upsetting the Texans at home. The Texans have a good defense and they have all of the pieces on offense, but right now this Texans team is playing horribly. The running game with Foster just isn't clicking like it has in the earlier part of the year. The Texans passing game is best when that rnning game works because Schaub is more of a play-action QB. The Texans have to find a way to get back on track so that they don't have to rely so heavily on their defense.
Who to watch: Matt Schaub and the offensive line. For the Texans, they are going to need a big game from their QB and they gotta find a way to run the ball again to make that happen.
The Bengals come in and they are clicking. Their offense can put up numbers, but the most important part of the Bengals (right now) is their defense. The Bengals defensive line can get pressure or stop the run with their front four which just makes the rest of that defense better. The running game may take a step back with the Law Firm being dinged up, but I expect a solid game from the Bengals.
Who to watch: Jermaine Gresham, Brandon Tate, Brian Leonard, and Geno Atkins. We know AJ Green is going to get his, but it's going to be up to someone else to help him out and I expect Gresham to really step up, but Tate will have to pull some weight also. If Green-Ellis is as dinged up as they say, they are going to need Leonard and others to literally carry the load. Atkins is having a great year and if he continues his play, he just might be the MVP of this game.
Winner: Bengals in a slight upset.
Minnesota @ Green Bay - This is the 3rd meeting of these two teams this year with last week being the last game. The Vikings are led by possibly one of the most amazing specimens the NFL has seen in years with AP returning from a knee injury last year and literally tearing up the league. He has faced the Packers twice this year and has amassed 409 yards in those two games. Think about that for a second 409 yards in 2 games and they had a chance to scheme for him. The Vikings defense has been solid for the most part and has kept this team in games, which seems to be all they need to do with AP running. The question mark for the Vikings is at QB.
Who to watch: Christian Ponder, period. We know what AP is going to do but the question is whether Ponder can make the Packers pay for loading up the box to try and stop the run. In the last game, Ponder probably played his best game as a pro and the Vikings won to make it into the playoffs. Can he do it again?
The Packers have been sloppy the past few weeks and their weakness (offensive line) has reared its ugly head. Rodgers can't keep taking hits like he is and with the health of some of his favorite targets in question, the Packers appeared regular. In this game Rodgers will have a full compliment of his receiving corp (Cobb, Finley, Driver, Nelson, and Jennings) and that should help immensely. On the defensive side of the ball the Packers get Woodson back which may slighyly improve their run defense. Woodson has always played both run and pass well and his return will have this defense feeling itself.
Who to watch: Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, Packers defense. Hopefully Cobb and Nelson are both injury free and they can play without concern. If all of these receivers are healthy, Rodgers becomes much more dangerous. The Packers defense has been rather talkative this week heading into this game about limiting AP to under 200 yards. Clay Matthews has been the most vocal, this will take a total team effort to keep AP under 200 and win the game.
Winner: Packers at home and Rogers is going to be money, just watch.
Indianapolis @ Baltimore - The first of our rookie QBs steps up to the plate for his first playoff game. Luck has been good this year and has led this team to the playoffs with seemingly all odds against him. They really don't have a running game and the defense has played some inspired ball as of late to keep this team close to give the rookie a chance to lead them to wins. This team has dealt with their head coach battling cancer and finally getting him back on the sidelines. With coach Pagano on the sideline, this Colts team will be playing for something more than just themselves.
Who to watch: Andrew Luck and the Colts defense. This is all on Luck to get his team through this game. He's going up against an inspired Ravens defense (they are playing for something more also) and they are going to Baltimore. The Colts don't play well on the road. The Colts defense is going to have to show a pulse and possibly getting some turnovers.
The Ravens are coming in and haven't looked good the past few weeks on defense, but they do get back Ray Lewis. To step things up a notch Lewis announced that he is retiring after this year. Talk about moving all the chips to the middle of the table. We all know that this team is going to win or lose on offense. Flacco looked great last week and we'll see if he can repeat.
Who to watch: Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis. Flacco is going to have to play well and have confidence in his game. Last week repeated will work will. If Flacco falters, can this team still win? Ray may be playing in his last game and the question is does he have any more moments left in the tank? As a fam of Ray's I hope so.
Winner: Ravens. In my best Teddy Riley voice, 'It ain't over' for Ray Lewis, yet.
Seattle @ Washington - The Seahawks come in this game led by Russell Wilson. They have played good defense and relied on Wilson to get the offense going. A big assist to Money Lynch has also worked for them. As good as the offense has played, the defense has possibly played better. They have made this Seahawks team special. The Seahawks don't play as well away from home, but I think they can be special enough this week.
Who to watch: Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, and Seattle recievers. This is Russells' first playoff game and he has to play within himself. The more under control he is, the better chance this team has of winning. How does he play under control, well let your veteran Lynch run the rock. Get the skittles going. I often look at the Seahawks receivers and I wonder which one of them will step up and play well each game. I don't feel like they have a true #1. Marshawn is going to have to have a good game. He needs close to 100 yards and some receptions to help his team win.
The Redskins have RGIII. That ought to be enough for most, but this defense that he'll be playing against is tough. So the Redskins are going to have to depend on their other rookie Alfred Morris. Morris has carried the load at the RB spot for the Redskins and he has done a helluva job. The Redskins are going to have to have a great game from both of their rookies to win. The defense looked good in their last game because they blitzed Romo a lot, but I'm not sure that will work against the Seahawks. London Fletcher has been the glue to this defense and he's gonna need to bring them together again.
Who to watch: Alfred Morris, RGIII, and Barry Cofield. Morris is going to have to have a big game on the ground to keep this Seahawks defense honest. If he can, I like RGIIIs chances of airing it out a little against a good Seahawks defensive secondary. Barry Cofield has got to provide a veteran presence on that line and make some plays. If the Redskins don't stop the run, it's all over for them.
Winner: I would love for the Redskins to win this one, but I think the Seahawks will win a close one.
Who you got?!?!?!?!?