You'll never get anyone to admit it, but those players whose earned a first-round bye in the 2013 NFL playoffs will be sitting at home watching the action on Wild Card Weekend unfold quietly praying to the football gods that "Team X" does not pull out a victory.
Much like people who avoid the dentist, there are a handful of teams playing on Wild Card Weekend that simply unnerve the top seeds in the NFL playoffs.
There any number of reasons why that’s the case, from individual matchups to past history or the momentum that a Wild Card team has built up.
But make no doubt about it.
When the second round of the playoffs get underway next weekend, the four teams with the highest seeds will be forever grateful if one of these squads isn’t standing on the opposite side of the field.
For as explosive a weapon as wide receiver A.J. Green is on the offensive side of the ball, it's Cincinnati's defense that has teams hoping that the Bengals lose to the Houston Texans on Saturday afternoon.
Winners of seven of its last eight games—a streak that has seen only one opposing team score 20 points—Cincinnati's defense is a top-10 unit in virtually every defensive category with the exception of run defense, where the Bengals rank 12th.
Cincinnati's core group of linebackers—Vontaze Burfict, Rey Maualuga and Manny Lawson—is among the best in the game.
The team's veteran secondary comprised of Terrance Newman, Leon Hall, Adam "Pacman" Jones, Nate Clements and Reggie Nelson that is playing like it's been together for a decade.
Throw in dynamic pass rushers like Geno Atkins and Michael Johnson, and there isn't one or two players that he opposition has to prepare for—the entire defense can cause major problems for an opposing offense.
Nobody wants to deal with trying to game plan for that—including the top overall seed in the AFC, the Denver Broncos, who the Bengals would play next should they get past Houston.
Like the Cincinnati Bengals, the Seahawks have an excellent defense and enter the playoffs with great momentum, winning seven of their last eight games.
Marshawn Lynch has re-emerged as one of the elite running backs in the NFL, while rookie QB Russell Wilson has handled himself like a seasoned veteran under center, making plays with both his arm and his legs.
Seattle doesn't have a glaring weakness on the roster.
A solid offensive line, an athletic defense, an elite running game and wide receivers with the ability to make a catch in traffic or break off a huge play down the field, coupled with the momentum and swagger the team has been playing with, makes Pete Carroll's club incredibly dangerous.
San Francisco has had its fill of the Seahawks after battling them twice during the regular season, while Atlanta, a team that limped into the playoffs losing two of its last three games, would certainly welcome a less formidable opponent in the second round.
Washington has a terrible pass defense, one that either Atlanta's Matt Ryan or San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick would love to get a chance to pick apart.
But were the quarterbacks to ask the defensive leaders on their respective teams if playing Washington was something that they wanted to do, the answer would be a resounding "No!"
In the midst of a seven-game winning streak, there isn't a defense in the NFL that wants to face the dynamic pair of rookies standing behind the line of scrimmage for the Redskins: QB Robert Griffin III and RB Alfred Morris.
Morris has taken the league by storm, picking up more than 1,600 yards on the ground, averaging nearly five yards per carry.
RGIII, well, he brings an entirely different set of problems to an opposing defense.
From his ability to air it out to his ability to tuck the ball under his arm and take off running, Griffin's explosive playmaking ability makes him, arguably, the most dangerous player in all of football.
He's impossible to gameplan for and even more difficult to contain. Both San Francisco and Atlanta would prefer that RGIII was nowhere near their cities next weekend.
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