NFL Playoff Schedule 2013: Top Matchup to Watch in Each Wild-Card Game

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 4, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 30: Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts waves to the crowd as he leaves the field following a win over the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 30, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts defeated the Texans 28-16.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The NFL playoffs are approaching, giving fans some of the most intriguing matchups of the season.

With so many talented rookie quarterbacks in the postseason, it will be very fun to see if one of the three can make history and lift the Lombardi Trophy.

The Wild Card Round might not present the most exciting games of the playoffs. However, there's plenty of excitement to be had.

Here's the key matchup that will decide each game.



Cincinnati Bengals Pass Rush vs. Houston Texans Offensive Line

If the Cincinnati Bengals can get some pressure on Matt Schaub, they'll win the game. Cincinnati ranks third in the league in sacks, with 51.

Geno Atkins in particular has been great this year. He's recorded 12.5 sacks this year, which is incredible for a defensive tackle. He'll be constantly hassling the interior of the Houston Texans' offensive line.

The Bengals also have Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap coming off the edge.

Schaub wasn't prone to mistakes this year. The best way to get the Houston offense out of whack is to give him little time in the pocket and force him into early throws.

The Cincinnati secondary isn't full of ball hawks, but the defense did intercept 14 passes on the season.



Adrian Peterson vs. Green Bay Packers Defense

Football isn't the kind of game where one player can single-handedly win a game, but Adrian Peterson will get extremely close to that level.

Fans will find out Saturday if Peterson alone can bring the Minnesota Vikings success in the playoffs.

Outside of their stellar running back, the Vikings have been largely pedestrian in comparison to their playoff counterparts.

The Vikings were 31st in the league in passing yards per game. Their defense was good, 11th in yards per game, but it might not be enough to thwart a Green Bay Packers offense.

That's why it all comes down to Peterson. He's had two huge games against Green Bay, rushing for 210 and 199 yards, respectively.



Andrew Luck vs. Baltimore Ravens Secondary

A rookie starting quarterback has never won a Super Bowl. Andrew Luck is the prime illustration of why.

He's without a doubt had a huge season. Without Luck, the Indianapolis Colts would be nowhere near the playoffs. But his mistakes could earn the Colts an early exit.

Unlike the other rookie QBs in this year's playoffs (Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III), Luck can't rely on a steady running game to deflect the defense's attention. The Colts averaged only 104.4 yards a game.

Luck has thrown for 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns. Along with those numbers, though, are his 18 interceptions. Half of those picks came in the Colts' six losses.

Baltimore's defense isn't getting any younger, as evidenced by the numbers, so there's the chance that Luck could play mistake-free football.

If that happens, Indianapolis will make it to the Divisional Round.



Alfred Morris vs. Seattle Seahawks Front Seven

Griffin III might be the biggest weapon on the Washington Redskins offense, but if Alfred Morris can't get going, RGIII will have a rough day.

The QB has been good this year, but when it comes to the playoffs, you don't want him to have to carry the offense on his shoulders.

Morris has been arguably the biggest rookie surprise this season. He has run for 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns, which are both second in the league.

Morris and RGIII are the biggest reasons the Redskins have the most rushing yards of any team in the league.

The Seattle Seahawks have been above average against the run, giving up 103.1 yards a game.