NFL Wild Card Weekend will be an interesting first round of the playoffs considering the mix of teams that will be involved.
From the perennial contenders such as New Orleans, the Giants and Pittsburgh to surprise teams like Cincinnati, Detroit and Denver, this will be a weekend of exciting games.
Will we see the normal top teams advance or will there be any upsets? Which team is almost an automatic to win and which team basically has no shot?
Here's a prediction for the four games to be played on Saturday and Sunday.
The first game of the weekend will be one of the weirdest playoff matchups in recent memory. Many people had a feeling that the Houston Texans would capture the AFC South this season, especially after the Indianapolis Colts lost Peyton Manning for the season. The Texans indeed won the division, although they lost their starting and backup quarterbacks midseason.
The Cincinnati Bengals, meanwhile, weren't supposed to do much this season with rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, who was extremely successful in college at TCU. The Bengals surprised many and won nine games to capture the final AFC playoff spot.
Now, believe it or not, one of these teams will win a playoff game and make it to the divisional round of the playoffs.
Normally in the NFL it's very hard to win in the playoffs without a legitimate starting quarterback. That can be said for both teams in this game.
Therefore, it comes down to other things such as defense. Both teams were in the top 10 in total defense in the regular season, but the Texans defense was terrific. They were fourth in the NFL in stopping the run, which should mean they will contain Bengals running back Cedric Benson who ran for 1,067 yards.
The same could be said for the Bengals in trying to stop Texans running back Arian Foster who ran for 1,224 yards. The Bengals were 10th in opponents' rushing yards per game.
This looks like it's going to be a low-scoring defensive battle with both teams trying to win with rookie quarterbacks as T.J. Yates will start for Houston. In a situation like this, I'll go with the home team.
Prediction: Houston 17, Cincinnati 14
The Detroit Lions will play in a playoff game for the first time since January 2000. Fans of Detroit are excited that their Lions are finally relevant again. That's nice, but enjoy it while it lasts.
Put aside the fact the Lions got embarrassed on Sunday night football back in December in New Orleans, how is Detroit possibly going to win this game?
The Saints are having a tremendous season, having gone 8-0 at home. They just don't lose in the dome and their quarterback broke the all-time single season passing mark that was set 27 years ago. Drew Brees threw for a jaw-dropping 5,476 yards, breaking Dan Marino's old mark.
Of course we're in an era where throwing for 5,000 yards was like throwing for 4,000 yards about a decade ago. A lot of quarterbacks hit that mark this season including Brees' opponent in this game, Matthew Stafford. He threw for 5,038 yards himself.
The Lions also play in a dome and have the league's leader in receiving yards, Calvin Johnson, who had 1,681 yards.
But the Lions like to play dirty and show off on national television. They play hard and they have brilliant talent. Unfortunately, playing the Saints won't help.
The Lions scored 41 points in Sunday's finale against the Packers but lost the game to their "B" team. Their defense gave up 45 points to Matt Flynn and his backup playmakers. Just imagine what Brees will do.
Yes, the Saints lost to the 7-9 Seahawks last season in Wild Card Weekend as the defending Super Bowl champions. But that was in the great Northwest, not conditions Brees is used to playing in.
This will be another high scoring affair, and the Saints always win those games in their building.
Prediction: New Orleans 42, Detroit 31
How are the New York Giants even in the playoffs? Didn't they lose four in a row to drop from 6-2 to 6-6, another epic collapse that had New York media and fans calling for Tom Coughlin's head?
Well, the Giants actually came through this season and rebounded in a huge way, beating the Dallas Cowboys twice and the New York Jets en route to a 9-7, NFC East-winning season.
Now, people are wondering whether or not this team will pull off another magical run like in 2007. That's going to be tough considering the top three teams in the NFC. It'll be hard for them to get past Green Bay and New Orleans, and San Francisco's defense is terrific. But they should be able to beat the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
History, though, doesn't side with the Giants who have only won a playoff game in one season under Tom Coughlin.
This is their first appearance since 2008 and it's because of two players: Eli Manning and Victor Cruz. How is Cruz not in the Pro Bowl? The guy was a machine, especially in those important late games. Manning proved that he is indeed "elite" after proclaiming himself just that in preseason.
Who will the Falcons pay more attention to, Victor Cruz or Hakeem Nicks? Most likely Cruz.
For the Falcons to win they'll need to do two things. Find a way to put consistent pressure on Manning and get past the Giants defense which has improved lately with Justin Tuck's resurgence.
In the Meadowlands during the playoffs, Manning has had his issues with weather and whatnot. Matt Ryan and the Falcons are a dome team. Similar to the Saints, the Falcons aren't as potent away from home.
Both of these teams are evenly matched for the most part, with Julio Jones and Roddy White matching up nicely with the aforementioned Cruz and Nicks.
This one is the toughest to call of all four games and it'll be interesting to see which team gets out to a fast start.
Prediction: NY Giants 31, Atlanta 27
I love the Tim Tebow story. People have mocked his religion and made nasty remarks about him and his beliefs all over the place. Good for him that he shut them up with a nice run. Now, the run did kind of flame out over the final three games, but isn't he really playing with house money? Maybe not according to John Elway, but this wasn't expected at all.
Unfortunately, this is the easiest game to predict. The Denver Broncos' run will end because seeing them beat Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs is hard to figure.
The Steelers are perhaps the most playoff-ready team in the NFL, having won a couple of Super Bowls with Roethlisberger and nearly winning a third last season. The Broncos didn't even have a winning record, literally backing into the playoffs at 8-8.
Tebow, as much as I love his story, just can't throw the football. He's going up against a quarterback who can very much throw it, although 4,077 yards wasn't a lot for Roethlisberger considering what others like Brees and Brady did.
Nonetheless, in a battle of top-ranked rushers against top-ranked defenders, the Steelers should win this in a route. Pittsburgh is first in opponents' passing yards, so it'll be a nightmare for Tebow. Denver did lead the league in rushing yards led by Willis McGahee and thanks to Tebow's 660 yards on his own, but the Steelers can stop that too.
Unless Roethlisberger tanks all the way to Tebow's level, or the Broncos find many holes in the Steelers potent run defense, then this game won't even be close.
Now the question becomes, what will Tebow's future be in Denver?
Prediction: Pittsburgh 31, Denver 7