Thursday, January 3, 2013

Wildcard Predictions

Cincinnati 20 -- Houston 16
Houston has lost three of its last four. Prior to that they beat Tennessee by 14, Detroit by 3, Chicago by 7 and Buffalo by 12--not the way to enter the playoffs. The Bengals, on the other hand, would be on an 8-game winning streak save a last second loss to an emotionally-charged Cowboys' team. This is a risk because Cincy only has two wins against playoff teams this season, but considering that Matt Schaub has 3 pics to only 1 TD over his last four games makes the Bengals the safer bet by default.

Green Bay 31 -- Minnesota 17
The Vikings finished the season extremely strong knocking off two potential playoff teams and the two three seeds in its final four games. Despite the loss last week Aaron Rodgers is having another Madden-on-rookie-difficulty season and the combination of home field, the Lambeau atmosphere, and the fact that Adrian Peterson can't throw and run the ball should ensure a relatively comfortable win for the Packers. Christian Ponder has already exceeded expectations based on this season alone. However he's also thrown for under 100 yards three times. Prediction: Rodgers completes 70% of his passes for 362 yards, 3 TDs, and 0 interceptions.

Baltimore 16 -- Indianapolis 13 
Indianapolis--or any team not with a quarterback named "Joe Flacco"--is tempting here but their 11 win season is inflated by their dismal previous season, which granted them an easy schedule. Further the Colts are the only team in the playoffs with a negative point differential. (In fact, their -30 puts them behind eight non-playoff teams: Steelers, Dolphins, Chargers, Giants, Bears, Panthers, Saints, and Bucs.) The psychological surge that the Ravens get from the return of a retiring Ray Lewis should be enough to get them into the Divisionals.

Washington 31 -- Seattle 20
This is the hardest game to pick because the status of RG3's knee makes it either a blow-out or it comes down to the final two minutes. 31-20 reflects the mean of those two outcomes. Two important facts. First, Russell Wilson hasn't had a bad game since week 7. He is due and it will occur this week, which is compounded by number two. Washington sports fans have become so desperate for winning that that they've spent most of the twenty-first century rallying around a Russian hockey team that plays at the Wizards' Verizon Center for a few months out of the year. Considering that the Redskins are the only professional sports team that matters in the city and that Robert Griffin III has achieved a level of reverence among Washington fans that surpasses that of monotheistic deities, Fedex Field at Raldjon/ Landover will make Seattle's CenturyLink Field look like an Atlanta Hawks' home pre-season game. Stampedes occur with less exigence than there will be Sunday night at Fedex. Skins win. And likely big.

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