NFL Playoff Picture: Tracking Every Matchup

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystDecember 30, 2012

NFL Playoff Picture: Tracking Every Matchup

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    The 2012 NFL regular season has reached its finale, and the twelve contestants in this year's Lambada for the Lombardi dance competition have been selected.

    Week 17 also brought with it some changes to the seeding for the playoffs, including one team that went from a top seed to losing their first-round bye altogether.

    So who's playing who where in the Wild Card round?

    Read on and find out!

Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans

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    Rematch!

    The Houston Texans' Week 17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts was a costly one, as not only does it cost the Texans home field throughout the AFC playoffs but the team also squandered a week off.

    The New England Patriots and Denver Broncos both leapfrogged the Texans in the season's final week, bumping Houston to the third seed in the AFC.

    That sets up a rematch of last year's Wild Card contest between the Texans and Cincinnati Bengals, a game that Houston won going away buoyed by a performance from defensive end J.J. Watt that was a preview of his fantastic 2012 campaign.

Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens

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    This matchup is a done deal.

    The Indianapolis Colts were locked into the AFC's fifth seed already, but the Ravens' loss to the Bengals also sets their seed and a date with the Colts in Baltimore one week from now.

    The Ravens were apparently content enough with this seed to rest several starters against Cincinnati, but the team enters the postseason on the wrong kind of streak after dropping four of their last five games.

    Meanwhile, the Colts' improbable run to the playoffs continues, and the return of Chuck Pagano to the sidelines and the victory over the Texans are huge boosts as they prepare to head to Maryland.

    Linebacker Ray Lewis hopes to return to the field for this game, and he's badly needed, as a Baltimore defense that has been eviscerated by injuries has been exposed over the past month.

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers

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    Instant rematch!

    It's that not often that two teams in the NFL meet in Week 17 with a ton on the line only to find out that they'll be doing it all again a week from now.

    That's the case in the NFC North, however, as the Minnesota Vikings rode 199 yards on the ground from Adrian Peterson to a surprising 37-34 win over the Green Bay Packers.

    That win vaults Minnesota into the sixth seed in the NFC, while Green Bay drops to third seed, which means...

    The two teams will meet for the third time this season next week at Lambeau Field.

Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins

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    This game is in of itself a microcosm of the year of the rookie quarterback.

    Washington's Robert Griffin and Seattle's Russell Wilson have both enjoyed great first seasons, with Griffin setting a new record for rushing yards by a rookie signal-caller while Wilson tied Peyton Manning's mark for touchdown passes by a first-year quarterback.

    That pair may hog the headlines but there will be other stories as well, including dueling bulldozers in Alfred Morris of the Redskins and Marshawn Lynch of the Seahawks.

    However, the game may be won on defense, where the ageless London Fletcher of the Redskins, who won a Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams, will try to outplay rookie Bobby Wagner, who was nine years old when Fletcher hoisted the Lombardi trophy.