By Danny Cox
The NFL playoffs are finally here, and there are no more than 12 teams remaining en route to the Super Bowl in New Orleans on Feb. 3, 2013. This year’s playoffs actually look a lot more entertaining than in the past few seasons, and it is hard to place a finger on the exact reason as to why.
A number of teams that aren’t usually seen in the playoffs are in there. That’s one big reason. Another huge reason is that there are three rookie quarterbacks starting for NFL teams and all leading their squads into the playoffs. Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson have all impressed this year and have the chance to do more of it in the postseason.
Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans
Houston is a team that was hoping for a first-round bye in the playoffs and were well on their way to that and home-field advantage. Then, Peyton Manning came out of nowhere again and knocked them down a peg again. Still, they’ve got a very good chance to make it to the big game, and don’t expect the Bengals to stand in their way.
Cincinnati has played well at times this season, but they’ve also played frighteningly bad too. Cincy could possibly play catch-up with Houston at times, but the explosiveness of the Texans‘ offense will be the difference. You just don’t stop a running game that includes Arian Foster and a passing game that has Andre Johnson.
Score Prediction: 35-21
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
This is one that could end up being the upset of the day, but that will actually come on the second day of the wild card round. The season series between these two teams was split, and the second game saw another explosive day from Adrian Peterson, and a Vikings’ win. One thing though, this is the playoffs, and this is Lambeau Field.
Aaron Rodgers knows how to perform under pressure and he plays well at home. Minnesota already fought for the life of their season last week, and will have to put forth the exact same type of energy this week. Actually, they’ll need to bring even more of it, and it just won’t be enough.
Score Prediction: 38-31
Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens
The “upset of the week” actually will go to the Indianapolis Colts and rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. Baltimore will have linebacker Ray Lewis back on the field, but he won’t be anywhere near 100 percent, and this may be the final game of his professional career. Indy has an excellent offense, and will be able to test the aging defense of the Ravens.
While many may not realize it, the Colts have won nine of their last 11 games, and their two losses came against two of the top three seeds in the AFC (New England, Houston). The Colts do just enough on defense to keep teams at bay, and are able to capitalize on offense when it counts.
Score Prediction: 24-20
Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins
Russell Wilson should win the “Offensive Rookie of the Year” award, hands down. He has led this team like no-one would have imagined, and he’s helped the Seahawks become one of the most feared units in the entire NFL. Seattle is riding a five-game win streak to end the season and outscored those opponents 193-60 during that period. That shows the offense isn’t the only scary thing about the Seahawks; it’s also their defense.
RG3 has led the Redskins on a seven game win streak to end their season, so they are also on fire and will prove trouble for the Seahawks. There is just something about the Washington offense that doesn’t seem to be there and it doesn’t have that same spark that Seattle’s does. This may very well be the game of the entire weekend and could come down to the final few plays.
Score Prediction: 42-38
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Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.