Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans: Wild-Card weekend will begin with a rematch of last year. These teams are very similar to last year’s squads. The two major differences are that Houston has their starting quarterback, last year they were forced to play with T.J Yates because of a Schaub injury, and Cincinnati has Leon Hall who was injured for last year’s postseason. Very much like last year the Bengals are an unproven team. If one disregards last week’s win over Baltimore, which was a game mostly played by backups, the Bengals have only beaten one playoff team. That was over three months ago when they squeezed by RGIII and the Redskins. Houston is entering the playoffs with a two game losing streak and they lost three out of the last 4, but all of those games were against playoff teams. A major factor in this game will be the Bengals O-line. Will they be able to protect Andy Dalton? Andy Dalton is the third most sacked quarterback in the NFL while the Texans have the fifth most sacks in the NFL. If the Bengals can protect Dalton then they will have chance. I doubt they will be able to.
Winner: Houston Texans
Player of the Game: J.J. Watt
Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers: These two teams just played each other last week in Minnesota. This game will be very different. Last week the reason the Vikings won the game was not Adrian Peterson. It was Christian Ponder. His performance was one of the best of his career. Ponder feels extremely comfortable indoors or in warm weather. The temperatures expected in Green Bay are around 10° F. This entire Vikings team is better when they are at home. Out of the ten games they have won this year seven were at home and only three on the road. Green Bay is very much alike in this statistic as they also are 7-1 at home. Aaron Rodgers will bring his A game like he always does during the playoffs and the Packers will have their way with Minnesota. The only way Minnesota can pull off the upset is if they get to Rodgers a lot. Rodgers is the most sacked QB in the NFL and that is the reason the Green Bay offense has been stalling at times. I expect Adrian Peterson to run for at least 150 yards but it will not be enough.
Winner: Green Bay Packers
Player of the Game: Aaron Rodgers
Indianapolis Colts @ Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens got healthy just in time for this game. Haloti Ngata will be playing and both Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis are listed as probable. This gives the struggling Ravens defense a big boost. Not only do they have three of their best players back, but they also have their leader, Ray Lewis, back. All three of them will be able to put a lot of pressure on Andrew Luck. What does not help the Colts is that starting Guard Joe Reitz will be out with a concussion. Andrew Luck will not have a lot of time to read the defense and especially Ed Reed. Andrew Luck will have to play amazing if the Colts want to have a chance in this game. I do not think he will play well enough to beat the Ravens. The one way that the Ravens can blow this game is if they don´t give the ball to Ray Rice 20+ times. The Colts are one of the worst five rushing defenses in the league and the Ravens must take advantage of it.
Winner: Baltimore Ravens
Player of the Game: Ray Rice
Seattle Seahawks @ Washington Redskins: The last game of wild card weekend will be in our nation’s capitol. This will be the best and most closely contested game of the weekend. Overall, these teams are very even. Both have extremely strong running games and also very mobile quarterbacks. The Seahawks do have a slight advantage in the Pass Defense, but the Redskins are improving. Delangelo Hall played extremely well against Dez Bryant last week and the Redskins will need to count on him to be able to play just as well against Golden Tate and Sidney Rice this week. Lucky for the Redskins it is a lot easier to run on the Seahawks, who give up 4.5 YPC, than it is to pass on them. When it comes to this matchup the most talk has been about the two rookie quarterbacks. I believe Robert Griffin III is better than Russell Wilson. He is a more accurate passer and a better runner. The two game deciding factors will be RGIII´s health and turnovers because both offenses rarely turnover the football. For me the deciding factor is the struggle that the Seattle Seahawks and especially Russell Wilson have shown on the road. They are 3-5 on the road. Even though their road performances have been improving, I do not think it will be enough to be the Redskins.
Winner: Washington Redskins
Player of the Game: Alfred Morris