The NFL playoffs come bittersweet this season, as NFL fans everywhere are excited for the "second season," but sad to see so few games posted on the schedule.
Clear the calendars. Wild Card Weekend contains only four games in which missing a minute could leave one thirsting for some NFL action sometime in July.
The postseason is where stars solidify themselves and unsung heroes go down in the lore of their franchise forever. One play could change their football lives forever.
These plays purvey the emotion that all NFL fans have been searching for since childhood—that tingling feeling that will last for eternity. It is the feeling of greatness whooshing through ones veins. It is simply unforgettable.
Here are some last minute bold predictions for Wild Card Weekend.
J.J Watt of the Houston Texans may very well end up as the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year, but he'll be outdone by Geno Atkins of the Cincinnati Bengals during their showdown on January 5.
At defensive end, Watt terrorized the opposition this season, tallying 20.5 sacks. But his counterpart Atkins notched 12.5 sacks at defensive tackle.
Wild Card Weekend will make Atkins a household name.
In their playoff matchup last season, it was Watt who had a pick-six against the Bengals and launched himself into the stratosphere. The Bengals offensive line is better than what it was a year ago, though, and Watt won't be allowed to do whatever he wants.
This time around, it will be Atkins who becomes a top-tier, most-feared defensive monster.
Bold Prediction: Atkins has five tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles
Mason Crosby was once as reliable as they come, but the 2012 NFL season hasn't been kind to the Green Bay Packers kicker.
Crosby only made 21-of-33 field goal attempts this season, and it can easily be argued that he shouldn't be on the team.
He has yet to miss an extra point this season, making all 50 attempts, but his worst nightmare will come true in the Packers' wild-card matchup against a familiar foe in the Minnesota Vikings.
With 4:32 to go in the third quarter, the Packers will score a crucial touchdown to go up 27-21 on the Vikings. During the extra point, veteran Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams will burst through the Packers' line and get just enough of the football to change its course and alter NFL history forever.
Bold Prediction: Crosby won't be a Packer next season
Andrew Luck isn't the only Indianapolis Colts rookie who's made an instant impact this season.
Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is that spark plug that every team needs, and come Wild Card Weekend, he'll explode onto the scene.
Sure, Luck has a reliable receiver in veteran Reggie Wayne, but Hilton is who gives the Colts offense much-needed depth. He averaged 17.2 yards/catch this season for 861 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
Truth is, he's only scratched the surface of his potential.
In comparison to his playoff adversaries—top Ravens receivers Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith—Hilton's stats are very similar. Boldin finished with 921 receiving yards, and Smith has 855 this season.
The Colts have an inside-out game with the tandem of Wayne and Hilton that will cause the Ravens fits in their upcoming duel. Hilton will look like a gem when it's all said and done.
Bold Prediction: Hilton has 11 receptions for 181 yards vs. Boldin and Smith's nine combined catches for 152 receiving yards
There's been plenty of noise surrounding Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III's mobility after a Week 14 knee sprain against the Baltimore Ravens.
Now, heading into the playoffs, some think that RG3 on the move is a thing of the past.
Griffin III will prove that he can still move and will surpass the 100-yard plateau against the Seattle Seahawks on January 6. The Redskins won't design their game plan around RG3 on the ground, but the rookie quarterback will make things happen.
Griffin III is far too smart to get himself injured by running carelessly, and he's too gifted as an athlete to take sack after sack.
He'll scramble at just the right time and stretch the Seahawks defense, keeping it off-balance.
Bold Prediction: 14 rushes, 112 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown
The Houston Texans return to the playoffs for the second consecutive season and the second time in franchise history during Wild Card Weekend.
Franchise quarterback Matt Schaub has to exorcise the demons and notch a win in his playoff belt in order to avoid being scrutinized as "not that good."
The 31-year-old veteran quarterback watched from the sidelines last season as then-rookie T.J. Yates led the Texans to victory in the playoffs last season.
Now, Schaub faces a must-win situation. Without a win, the Texans' late season collapse will enter "epic" territory and Schaub's credibility will certainly take a hit.
Good thing for Schaub, the Texans will escape a narrow win against the Cincinnati Bengals. Schaub will snap out of his slump at the perfect time, as wide receiver Andre Johnson and running back Arian Foster will be just too much for the Bengals in the end.
Schaub's Bold Prediction: 21-of-27 for 309 passing yards, two touchdowns, one fumble, one INT
Final Score Bold Prediction: Texans 34, Bengals 31
The Green Bay Packers haven't been able to stop Adrian Peterson all season, so why should this game be any different?
Peterson has torched the Pack to the tune 409 rushing yards in two meeting this season. Yes, the Packers are playing at home, but they have proven to be vulnerable at home in the postseason in recent history.
As good as Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is, Peterson means more to his team right now.
This game will go down to the wire, and Peterson will show why he's so special. A late-fourth-quarter 38-yard touchdown, coupled with a Blair Walsh extra point, will propel the Minnesota Vikings to victory.
Peterson's Bold Prediction: 27 carries, 225 rushing yards, three touchdowns
Final Score Bold Prediction: Vikings 28, Packers 27
The face of the NFL will forever change after the Indianapolis Colts face the Baltimore Ravens on January 6, as it will be future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis' last game in the NFL. And it could be Ed Reed's last NFL game as well.
It'll be a sad day for all.
After sustaining a triceps injury that has kept him shelved since Week 6, Lewis will appearing in what seems to be his swan song against the Colts.
These are two franchises heading in very different directions. The Colts seem like the future is fruitful, while the Ravens seem to have had the air taken out of them this season.
Things are pretty grim for the 10-win Ravens, and one last "Any Dogs in the House?" pregame speech from Lewis doesn't seem like it will do the trick this time.
Colts rookie Andrew Luck has had his ups and downs this season, but due to a deflated opponent, the Colts will prevail with a W.
Indianapolis will have a commanding first drive of the game that ends in a six-yard Vick Ballard rushing touchdown that will set the tone for the entire day.
Plenty of tears to be shed in Baltimore as one of the game's best defenders of all time will hang up his hat.
Final Score Prediction: Colts 20, Ravens 10
In the most-hyped Wild Card Weekend game in recent memory, the red-hot Seattle Seahawks will travel to the nation's capital to face the Washington Redskins.
Rookie quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III bring life to this game, but it's running backs Marshawn "Beast Mode" Lynch and Alfred Morris who will be the catalysts to their teams' respective offenses.
Lynch (1,590 rushing yards) was bested by Morris (1,613) by a total of 23 rushing yards in the regular season, but it will be Lynch who tops Morris come January 6.
This game will get off to a slow start, as Wilson and Griffin III will have to shake their nerves (yes, they have them). But it will finish with a bang, with Lynch taking the cake with a 63-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter.
The Redskins may possess a stout rushing defense, but Beast Mode will be too much for the 'Skins on this day.
RG3 and Morris will live up to expectations, but will come up just shy in this game.
Wilson won't make mistakes, and the Seahawks will live to see another day.
These are the games that define a season, franchise and generation of NFL players. And the best thing is, it's just begun for these two up-and-coming teams, as the next decade shows plenty of promise.
Wilson's Bold Predictions: 16-of-25, 262 passing yards, two passing TDs, 87 rushing yards
RG3's Bold Predictions: 19-of-27, 283 passing yards, one passing TD
Morris' Bold Predictions: 26 rushes, 124 rushing yards, one TD
Lynch's Bold Predictions: 21 rushes, 160 rushing yards, two TDs
Final Score Prediction: Seahawks 31, Redskins 27