NFL Playoff Picks: Hot Teams Facing Rude Awakening

Jeremy Fuchs@@jaf78Correspondent IIIJanuary 2, 2013

Ray Rice
Ray RiceMatt Sullivan/Getty Images

Most teams in the NFL playoffs are entering hot, but some are on fire. Three of these teams, the Cincinnati Bengals, the Minnesota Vikings and the Indianapolis Colts, ended the season on a roll. But they are in a for rude awakening once the playoffs start.

These teams are good, but they will find it hard to win in their respective matchups. Read on to find out why we think they will lose.


Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have won three straight and seven of their last eight to end the season. They are the hottest team entering the playoffs.

The Houston Texans, on the other hand, have stumbled their way into the postseason. They've lost two straight and three out of their last four.

Despite their success, look for the Bengals to struggle on Saturday. The Texans have been, for the most part, one of the best defensive teams in football, and should be able to keep what is an average Bengals offense in check. 

Johnathan Joseph will be able to limit star receiver A.J. Green, and the constant pressure applied by the Houston defensive line will cause Andy Dalton fits.

Cincinnati's defense will keep it close, but look for the Texans to get back on track with a win. 


Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are a hot team, having won four in a row. They just beat the Green Bay Packers, their wild-card opponent, in a thrilling Week 17 matchup that clinched a playoff spot for the Vikes.

Now, Minnesota will head to Green Bay and look to repeat their Week 17 win. But they will find the task to be a lot harder.

The Packers feature one of the best pass offenses in football, averaging 253 yards per game. The Vikings, meanwhile, give up 244.3 yards per game, which is ranked 24th in the league.

Look for Aaron Rodgers to air it out and for the Packers to score a lot of points en route to a victory. 


Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have won two in a row and five of their last six. But it won't be enough against the Baltimore Ravens.

Despite the stellar play of rookie Andrew Luck and the inspiring return of coach Chuck Pagano, the Ravens are simply a better team.

While it is true that the Ravens backed into the playoffs, losing four of their last five, their defense will improve with the return of their emotional leader Ray Lewis.

Additionally, the Colts struggle mightily against the run. They give up average of 137.5 yards per game on the ground, which is ranked 29th in the league. The Ravens, led by Ray Rice, pick up 118.8 yards per game on the ground.

The Ravens will feed Rice the ball early and often, which will lead to a Baltimore victory.