I would imagine for most North Americans, we get excited to not only ring in the New Year, but also because we know that the NFL playoffs begin right after. Wildcard Weekend has shaped up to be one of the most intriguing slates of games we’ve seen in a long time (except for the Jesus Tebow game last year). The boys and I wish everyone the best in 2013! And hopefully things go as predicted so we all win money! Let’s get to it.
How the Bengals will win
The Bengals have been heating up at the right time of the season with full momentum winning 6 of the last 7 games, losing only to Dallas by 1 point (With numerous unexpected drops from AJ Green that sealed the game). Why the Bengals will win: defence, Defence, DEFENCE. The Bengals defence has been outstanding the past 7 games, especially since Andy Dalton has kind of hit a slump. If the Bengals can figure out how to restart their offense and give Dalton some time to find AJ Green, we could have an upset in the making. The Houston secondary has had problems the last couple of weeks, if Dalton can exploit these issues; expect AJ Green to have a monster day.
How the Texans will win
The Texans have been trending in the wrong direction entering the playoffs, losers of 3 out of 4 to playoff teams isn’t the most ideal way to prove you are for real. Why the Texans will win: first of all, they finally have a healthy Schaub instead of TJ Yates. The Texans will win if the O-line can keep Gino Atkins and Michael Johnson at bay as well. The secondary of Houston will also have to find a way to shut down AJ Green, pressure from JJ Watt should help the cause and thankfully the Cincy rushing game has been pitiful coming down the stretch.
Houston Texans beat the spread. Although the Bengals defence may hold Andre Johnson in check, I think the Texans O-line neutralizes Zimmer’s pressure defence and Arian Foster grinds out the clock to keep Dalton and Green on the sidelines.
… plus they’re my Superbowl pick this year.
28 Houston – 23 Bengals Final
How the Vikings Win
It will be integral for the Vikings to get an early lead just to have a chance at this. If their down 10-0 or 14-3 at the end of the first or halftime, this game will be a wrap. It’s always a bonus from a fan’s perspective to have a divisional game, and we can only hope that this weekend will be as exciting as last week’s matchup. However, there is a big difference between a dome game in Minny, and a playoff game in Lambo Field against Aaron Rodgers, in January, with Christian Ponder. An early lead, ball control, field positioning with AP and one breakout special team’s play. I would be remissed not to talk Mr. Peterson, who put the team on his back all year. I recently had the chance to watch 30for30’s: You Don’t Know Bo. I won’t dare dive into the comparison (that’s an article on its own), but after watching it I couldn’t help but think about Peterson, and how he would be the closest to Bo Jackson (watch video below) I may ever see in reference to the combination of speed and strength. And if Peterson were to run into a freak injury like Bo, let’s just enjoy what he’s doing while we still can.
How the Packers Win
The Cheeseheads win unless AP plays QB, WR, and Linebacker for the whole game. There is no reason for them to lose at home in this one. Jennings and Nelson’s health are an issue moving forward, but not enough to have them knocked out in the first round. This Packers season also reminded me of how the Spurs are in the NBA, they went quietly under the radar, stacking up their wins and handling their business understanding they will solely be judged on how they perform in the playoffs.
Like my main man Joe, I have to stick with my Superbowl pick here. As much as I love to watch AP play and hate to bet against him, because of the way Green Bay has been overlooked all season I wouldn’t be surprised if Aaron Rodgers puts on a dazzling show.
Packers 34- Vikings 17 Final
In a drastic turn of events, one of the greatest Linebackers of all-time announced his retirement plans on Wednesday morning. Ray Lewis approached the podium in Baltimore and possibly changed the fate of Sunday’s AFC Wild Card game versus the Indianapolis Colts. The announcement from the former Super Bowl MVP came as a shock to many, but not to The Hue’s own Mark Bill who had discussed this very possibility earlier in the season. Lewis mentioned his son at the presser, who will start as a freshman linebacker for the Miami Hurricanes and said, “Because I always promised my son; If he got a full ride on scholarship, daddy is going to be there. I can’t miss that.”
The announcement comes at such a volatile time for Lewis’ Ravens who backed into the playoffs losing 4 of their last 5, whereas their opponent is one of the NFL’s hottest teams with wins in their last 2 and 5 of their last 6. The Colts’ road record was mediocre going 4-4, while the Ravens went 6-2 for the season in Maryland.
This match-up was a lot easier to assess before Wednesday morning — Rookie stud QB on the heels of a 2-game win streak, Pagano’s feel good story, Ray Lewis still injured and Joe Flacco proving he isn’t as “elite” as he so eloquently boasted about during the off-season. My mind was made up. Realizing (As the savvy veteran leader he is) that his “brotherhood” needed a little spark, Ray makes his little announcement and suddenly the sports world starts to second guess the Colts and doubt the energy and enthusiasm of youth.
With Ray Rice getting an extra week of rest and Indianapolis near the bottom of Rushing Defense, the arguments for a Baltimore win still linger. However, with a solid secondary I believe Pagano would have his troops ready for Sunday and anticipating the comedy of errors that stars Joe Flacco. Again, the Ravens didn’t exactly impress us during this stretch in December and although Lewis brings them the fire and spark that’s been obviously missing, I don’t think it will be enough to beat Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne.
Before Wednesday, it was a confident IND WIN. By Wednesday afternoon, it’s a closer game. Ray Lewis does make a big a difference, but not big enough.
In the spirit of the USMilitaryPapaJohnsGeicoFiesta Bowl, the greatest display of the read-option offense we will see this month will take place when RGIII and Russell Wilson face off. Both teams offensively are built the same, using the HB dive with some sort of QB action on the back end to keep the LB’s flat footed. Ultimately, I think Seattle will win this game easily. They have a better defense, with big physical corners to press, Earl Thomas ball-hawking in the secondary, and a more athletic front 7. RGIII is going to have his hands full finding time to make plays. The middle of the field won’t be available for Garcon and Hankerson. I can’t see them leaning on the running game to set everything else up, so Griffin is going to need to beat Seattle by staying patient in the pocket and making all of his progressions (assuming there is a pocket). I really think we are going to see a very different RGIII this weekend, I think he will turn the ball over multiple times, he won’t have the running lanes he is accustomed to, and he will have to put the ball into smaller windows while under pressure, which he cannot do. As much as I like London Fletcher as a player, I just don’t think they will be able to contain Lynch the same way Seattle will contain Morris. Lynch will attack the middle of that Washington defense all day, and will eventually just wear them down. Both teams score points the same way, but Seattle’s defense is just too strong.