NFL Playoffs 2013: Power Ranking the Best Wild-Card Matchups

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NFL Playoffs 2013: Power Ranking the Best Wild-Card Matchups
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Three of the most exciting rookie quarterbacks in the last several years, plus one of the top QBs in the NFL, all taking the field in one weekend?

We aren't going to need much convincing in order to get excited about this postseason's Wild Card matchups.

They may not be the best teams in the league—at least technically—but that doesn't mean that these games are going to be any less scintillating to watch. Here's a look at this weekend's best playoff games to watch, ranked from worst to first.


4. Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans
Saturday, Jan. 5 at 4:30 p.m ET (NBC)

Just because it's the fourth-best game doesn't mean it isn't going to be an awesome game; it just is going to be less awesome than the others, even though it involves a team that was considered to be the best in the AFC just a few weeks ago.

The Houston Texans' season kind of fell apart the moment they got blown out in Foxboro in early December on Monday Night Football, and when they lost to Indianapolis on Sunday, they robbed themselves of a first-round bye. That, of course, has presented us with one of the most exciting potential upsets of the weekend.

The Bengals may be the sixth seed, and as a franchise, they may be starved of general playoff success, but they have a huge opportunity this weekend to knock off a team whose season is rapidly spiraling out of control. The Texans have lost three of their last four and are the most vulnerable team out there, while Cincinnati—winners of seven of its last eight—has a prime opportunity to score a huge upset.


3. Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, Jan. 6 at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

The Baltimore Ravens are following a similar trajectory to that of the Texans right now. Entering December, they were one of the most intimidating teams out there; now, not only did they miss out on a first-round bye, but they have to face one of the conference's hottest teams.

Even at home, the Ravens are going to have a hard time defeating Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts, like the Bengals, have peaked at the perfect time. They enter the postseason having won five of their last six, including a big statement win in a critical matchup against the Texans on Sunday. Luck may be a rookie, but he has proved to be precisely what his franchise needed in order to revitalize itself.

But just because the Colts are hot doesn't mean that the Ravens should be counted out just yet. This is a team that has been very tough to beat in the playoffs over the last few years, even if things have gotten messy for them in December.

This is one of the few matchups that really could go either way.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images


2. Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Saturday, Jan. 5 at 8 p.m ET (NBC)

The Green Bay Packers certainly didn't have to wait long to get a rematch.

For the third time in the last six weeks, we will see the Packers and the Minnesota Vikings square off. Each time these teams have met, there has been plenty on the line, but never more than what will be on the line on Saturday.

Green Bay will attempt to fight against going one-and-done for the second consecutive year, while the Vikings will head to the postseason for the first time since Brett Favre was the quarterback. It isn't going to be easy for either of them. The Vikings pulled off the seemingly impossible by winning each of their last four games in order to sneak into the playoffs, but while their quarterback comes in with zero playoff experience, the Packers come in with a quarterback who won a Super Bowl within the last three years.

Which one prevails: the team riding the hot streak or the team with postseason experience?


1. Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins
Sunday, Jan. 6 at 4:30 p.m. ET (Fox)

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

How is it that the matchup featuring the No. 4 and the No. 5 seeds is the best one of the week? Because it also features two of the most exciting rookie quarterbacks in the league.

The playing field is relatively even here. Neither of these QBs has any playoff experience. Neither of these teams has gotten into the postseason with a winning record since 2007. The Redskins embark on their postseason quest on the heels of a seven-game winning streak that featured five crucial division wins; the Seahawks, though they have only won five straight, scored 40 or more points in three of those five.

Then, of course, there are RGIII and Russell Wilson. Who is it going to be? The No. 2 overall draft pick or the third-rounder who had football fans worldwide rolling their eyes during the preseason with his refusal to be anything but excellent

The moral of the story is that both of these teams have been impressive in their own ways over the final month of the season. But only one of them can advance for the right to continue their Super Bowl quest.

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