NFL Playoff Picture: Power Ranking Top Wild Card Battles

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IDecember 31, 2012

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 30:  Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins celebrates after Alfred Morris #46 scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at FedExField on December 30, 2012 in Landover, Maryland. The Washington Redskins defeated the Dallas Cowboys 28-18. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

If this season, which has seen rookies play like we've never seen rookies play before and records around the league fall like Manny Pacquiao, is any indication, the postseason is going to be an astonishing, must-see month of football.

Wild Card Weekend might just be the highlight of all of it.

Sure, we won't get to see studs like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, but with Adrian Peterson, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Ray Rice and a slew of other superstars in action against each other, it's hard to go wrong.

Let's take a look at where these potentially epic matchups stack up against each other. 

Note: A complete look at the playoff picture and schedule can be found here


4. Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens

People who enjoy complaining about Andrew Luck not playing a truly menacing schedule will get their wish when the rookie travels to Baltimore to take on an always-ferocious—albeit not as much this season—defense for his first playoff game. 

Moreover, we get to see if the Chuck Pagano magic extends to the playoffs, as the Colts, who are the only team in the playoffs with a negative total point differential, will surely be underdogs against Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and company. 


3. Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans

It's hard to find two teams moving in more opposite directions.

The Bengals have won three in a row—including two straight over their biggest division rivals, Pittsburgh and Baltimore—and seven of their last eight while Houston has dropped three of its last four and barely escaped against Jacksonville and Detroit shortly before that.

It probably won't happen, but this one has a good chance of seeing a 10-6 wild-card team being favored on the road against a 12-4 division winner.

Therein lies the intrigue of this contest, as we'll see just how much momentum plays a factor in the postseason. 

Also, A.J. Green vs. Johnathan Joseph? Yes, please. 


2. Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers

As the Vikings and Packers were going back and forth during Sunday's instant classic, I found myself not wanting the game to end.

Well, guess what? It doesn't have to!

Thanks to that one running back—Adrian Peterson, or something like that—the Vikings were able to knock off the Pack, 37-34, and set up Minnesota vs. Green Bay: Part Deux. 

Anytime you get to watch arguably the most dominant pass offense in the NFL go up against the most dominant rush offense in the NFL (both of which, in turn, are going up against overwhelmed defenses), you'll take it.

And then smile a big smile. 


1. Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins

I'm torn.

On the one hand, I really don't want to see this matchup yet. Seattle and Washington are two of the hottest teams in the NFL. No one wants to play them, and I'd like to see them on opposite sides of the playoff bracket, making a complete mess of everyone's predictions.

On the other, I really, really, desperately want to see this matchup.

Washington vs. Washington. 

Dynamite rookie quarterback who runs the option to perfection vs. the other dynamite rookie quarterback who runs the option to perfection. 

The two most productive, hard-nosed, downhill, it's-going-to-take-four-guys-to-tackle-me running backs in the NFL not named Adrian.

Is it Sunday yet?