NFL Playoffs 2012: Predicting the Wild Card Weekend
The regular season is over and it's time to prepare for the Wild Card Weekend.
But this is the playoffs and this is a totally different thing than the regular season, as I'm sure the Saints will remember all too well in their game against Marshawn Lynch—oh, I mean the Seattle Seahawks—in 2010.
AFC: No. 6 Cincinnati Bengals at No. 3 Houston Texans
Bengals 20, Texans 10
The Texans are down to playing a banged-up rookie or a run-down veteran at the most critical position in sports. Even though the Texans have a very good defense, I just can't see them holding up against a Bengals team that is solid on defense and has some spectacular young playmakers on offense.
I think the Bengals will do a better job of stopping the Texans running game than the Texans will do at stopping the Bengals passing game.
Game-Changer: Andre Johnson—is he able to deliver a magical game?
NFC: No. 6 Detroit Lions at No. 3 New Orleans Saints
Lions 21, Saints 35
The Lions offense is just too one-dimensional to outscore Drew Brees and his high-octane offense.
Right know the Saints are probably the best-playing team in the NFL and they are in good health. This one could be over by the end of the first half.
Game-Changer: Ndamukong Suh finds his way back to his 2010 self and elevates the defense to a whole new level.
NFC: No. 5 Atlanta Falcons at No. 4 NY Giants
Falcons 24, Giants 27
Matt Ryan is playing away from home and outdoors in the cold. The Giants are riding momentum and a hot Manning-to-Cruz tandem.
The Falcons have been cruising for a while and the Giants are in fight-for-survival mode; that gives the Giants an edge in a close game—very close game.
Game-Changer 1: Which Giants team will show up?
Game-Changer 2: Will Matty Ice finally prove that he is ice when it counts? Talk about signature game for Matt Ryan!
AFC: No. 5 Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 4 Denver Broncos
Steelers 10, Broncos 13
The Steelers have a makeshift O-line, without their two best RBs and Ben Roethlisberger playing on one foot. The Broncos pass rush will get to an immobile Big Ben, who gets knocked out of the game in the second quarter.
The thin air in Denver will wear out the aging Steelers defense and Matt Prater kicks the winning 61-yard field goal with one minute left in the game.
Game-Changer: Tim Tebow, for better and for worse. This game Tebow will be fighting for survival. Will John Fox finally take training wheels off Tebow? Or will the wheels come off the Tebow Train?