One of the highlighted NFC wildcard games in this prediction is the Dallas Cowboys vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. Divisional rivalries are always intense but in the playoffs they go up a whole other level, especially between teams like the Cowboys and the Eagles.
Although this rivalry is close as ever, the Cowboys have the advantage all time 54-43. Just two years ago they smashed the Eagles in the playoffs and the last two years the Eagles have lost in the wildcard round. Although good, the Eagles seem overhyped this year while oddly enough the Cowboys seem under the radar. The hot seat will get even hotter for Andy Reid after this year's playoff failure.
Over in the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens host the New York Jets. Both teams are similar breeds, they love to run the ball and they play tough defense. A rivalry has started between them since former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan started coaching the Jets.
Although the Ravens have won in the wildcard round the last three years, they haven't played at home in the playoffs since 2006. Their last two playoff games at home were losses and more of the same can be expected this year. The Jets have become extreme road warriors and Ryan can get them fired up enough to take out his old team on their home field.
The Arizona Cardinals will host the Atlanta Falcons in a rematch of a 2008 wildcard match. That was the year the Cardinals upset the Falcons and went on a run to the Super Bowl.This year the Falcons are a favored NFC squad while the Cardinals are an upstart team hoping quarterback Kevin Kolb can turn things around.
The recent NFC West champions, though weak in the regular season, seem to justify their playoff standings by playing well. Five straight years the NFC West champion (either the Cardinals or the Seattle Seahawks) have won on wildcard weekend, this year should mark the sixth consecutive year that happens. The Cardinals will pull off the shocking upset and get ready for another long playoff run.
Closing out Wildcard weekend will be two new playoff teams. The Houston Texans will make their first ever playoff appearance hosting the surprising Cleveland Browns. There isn't much of a rivalry between these teams, and both haven't been very good the past couple years. Playoff inexperience will affect both teams and could make the game sloppy.
Ultimately though the Texans have advantages at almost every position. Their offense is stacked and their defense looks like it should improve this year. The Texans will take the Browns down and move on to the divisional round.