Week 1 NFL Playoff Predictions: Wildcard Weekend Free Football Picks
January 5, 2013 by luckylester
Hey 11 wins in Week 17 had me finish the year on a two week run of 21-11. Not too shabby. Now we’re fighting for the playoff big bucks. Some interesting lines out there, here’s how I see Saturday’s action.
This is a tough one because it wasn’t too long ago that the Texans were getting beat up in the secondary. They’ve taken a lot of bumps on that defense, in terms of injuries, and while these are the playoffs and I’m sure guys will be stepping up, you have to wonder if those injuries will be too much for a Texans team that lost three of their last four on way to missing out on that hard earned first round bye. Hard to earn especially when you don’t earn it. The Bengals, on the other hand, won 7 of their last 8 games to get into the playoffs, losing just one game, 19-20, to the Dallas Cowboys. During that time the Bengals beat up on the Giants, upended the Steelers, and took out Baltimore last week in a game that didn’t mean much for either squad.
All that being said, I still think the Texans are the better team. They are playing at home, they have a solid run game, some solid weapons in the passing attack, and a defense that showed a lot of toughness earlier in the year. Everyone’s expecting that late-year dive to continue, but I see the Texas pulling it together in this one. They’ve been in the playoffs for weeks, now that they’re finally here I see them stepping up and winning at home.
The Packers will have all their weapons back in Round 1, and they’ll need them. But the Packers basically never stopped the Vikings last week. I don’t think Randall Cobb’s return is going to mean much in that regard. Adrian Peterson ran right down the middle of the Packers’ defense. Well, he ran right, left, in the middle, big runs, short powerful runs, last minute runs to set up game winning field goals. He was a beast. I don’t know how the Packers plan to stop him, but it better be something they haven’t tried yet. Christian Ponder was also pretty big, and while that might be because the Packers had 9 guys in the box, Ponder was basically flawless last week when a playoff spot was on the line. I know this one is in Green Bay, but dang, can we believe that’s the answer?
It’s tough because Aaron Rodgers is so good, and he showed last week that no lead is safe when it’s him vs. that Viking secondary. Still, he was sacked five times, and that’s something the Packers have struggle with all year long. Without a strong run game to keep that defensive front honest, the Packers will have a tough time keeping Minnesota from pining their ears horns back and getting after Rodgers.
The Colts have plowed through one heck of a magical season, and I’m not sure the Ravens are confident enough to end that. Even if they do, they certainly aren’t a team that consistently beats opponents up. They should run the ball well against Indy, but can they end drives in touchdowns? That will be the difference in this game, and I’m saying no. I see a handful of field goals out of the Ravens, and those three pointers won’t get the job done when it comes to covering the spread.
Baltimore is aging defensively, and the Colts have shown more balance down the stretch. With a run game that could surprise on Sunday, I see the Colts covering a close one.
I know there’s this big thing going around that the Seahawks can’t win on the road. The only think is that it’s not true. Are they better at home? Sure, I mean the crowd is screaming and decibel levels that Lou Holtz can’t even get close to pronouncing, and they get louder when opponents mess up. I’ve been to a game there, Tony Romo’s beginning to his non-clutchness when he dropped the field goal attempt late. It’s louder than anything I can try and relate it to. So yes, they don’t have that on their side in the “other” Washington, but they still have one of the best defenses in football, and the rookie quarterback that played the best football this season. Yes, RG3 is amazing, but when it comes to running a team, I don’t know many vets that have done a better job than young Russ. Both these kids are gamers, and that’s what should make this so much fun.
If I were taking the Redskins it would be because they stop the run well and have done a much better job in the secondary down the stretch, especially late in their big winning streak. And that RG3 guy does it well with the game on the line. But mostly it would be because of their quick hitting rushing attack in the read option. The Hawks have had trouble with quick-hit run calls at times, and Morris runs tough.
But with everything on the line, I have to take the Hawks. They are another level of competitive even in pre-season games. With the season on the line I can only imagine they’ll be running to the ball like banshees. They are the better football team. Offensively they are more consistent, hold onto the ball longer, and are no longer in trouble if everything doesn’t go their way early. But defensively they are awesome. They get Browner back this week, and unless the refs call this one tighter than a duck’s butt, they should be able to shut down that Redskin receiving corps.
And if it comes down to a snap or two, Russell Wilson is the kid I want on my side. Hawks favored in Washington for a reason – I’ll take them.