NFL Playoff Predictions: Favorites That Will Come Tumbling Down

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 4, 2013

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 30: Jimmy Smith #22 of the Baltimore Ravensreaches for the ball during the NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on December 30, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The NFL playoffs often set up well for some teams and not so well for others, and these teams received an unlucky draw in the Wild Card round. In turn, they'll sputter to a defeat that will end their Super Bowl hopes.

With the top two teams from each conference enjoying a week off and a first-round bye, these teams aren't so fortunate and will face tough opponents to start off their new year.

Here's a look at teams who won't have luck on their side in Wild Card matchups and will fall victim to the first upsets of the 2012 NFL Playoffs.


Houston Texans

Once thought of as the supreme team in the AFC, the Houston Texans fell quickly from that pedestal to the third seed in the conference. They lost their way out of a first-round bye and end up playing the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals didn't start out 2012 with their best play and it looked like they were bound for a huge letdown after a 2011 playoff appearance, but they turned it around in a big way and are rolling into the playoffs at 10-6.

With one of the best defensive lines, Cincinnati will be able to stifle Arian Foster's rushing attack and force Matt Schaub to make big plays with his arm. He's proven to be far from productive when his running game isn't rolling along.

Andy Dalton has been here before. With the right playmakers around Dalton to attack Houston's secondary and a stout defense to fall back on, the Bengals will be able to take down one of the NFL's struggling squads. 


Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens will be playing hard for soon-to-be-retired linebacker Ray Lewis in these playoffs, but unfortunately for Joe Flacco and company, they're running into a whole different beast. 

They'll take on the Indianapolis Colts, who have been the story of the 2012 season. They'll be playing hard for a different reason, as head coach Chuck Pagano takes the sideline for just his second game back after overcoming leukemia during the season. 

But this game goes much deeper than just the emotional backdrops for each team. When it comes down to it, the Ravens don't have the same defense they used to, with or without Lewis. ESPN shows Baltimore is in the bottom half of opponents' passing and rushing yards, which is a surprising stat to say the very least.

On the other end, rookie Andrew Luck has played like a veteran, notching comebacks in what seems like every game he plays in. And he doesn't do all of this with household names around him; in fact, they're mostly players who few had heard of before this season.

Plus, the Ravens enter the playoffs having lost four of their last five. 

Flacco isn't elite enough of a quarterback to go up against what the Colts have going for them. Their improbable run won't end in a Super Bowl victory, but it will live on into the next round.