NFL Wildcard Round Playoff Picks
The NFL Playoffs have arrived! After three great rounds of playoffs last year and an even greater Super Bowl, we can now gear up for the latest installation of memorable playoff moments in the NFL. This year, there are three, yes THREE, rookie QB’s in the playoffs. Those quarterbacks are the Indianapolis Colts’ Andrew Luck, the Washington Redskins’ Robert Griffin III, and the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson. Luck guided the Colts from 2-14 in 2011, to 11-5 in 2012, and the five seed in the AFC. Griffin III, or RG3, led the Redskins from 5-11 in 2011, to 10-6 in 2012 and an NFC East championship and a home playoff game in the opening round of the playoffs. And finally, Russell Wilson surprised us all by winning the starting job in Seattle and then leading the Seahawks from 7-9 in 2011, to 11-5 in 2012, and the five seed in the NFC, and a road date on opening week in Washington D.C. against RG3 and the ‘Skins. Boy, what a game that Seahawks-Redskins game should be.
Among other games on Wildcard Weekend, is the opening game on Saturday, the AFC’s #3 seed Houston Texans playing host to the #6 seeded Cincinnati Bengals in what figures to be a game that features two teams with solid quarterbacks, stud #1 wide receivers, and very good defenses. This game has the opportunity to be high scoring or low scoring. I’d go with low scoring though. This game is also a rematch of last years Wildcard Weekend game in Houston, where the Texans beat the Bengals 31-10, behind third string QB T.J. Yates, because starter Matt Schaub was out with a bad foot injury and backup QB Matt Leinart broke his arm in the first game he started after Schaub got hurt. With the Texans at full strength and playing host again, I don’t think we’ll see much change from last years game, except that this years game will be much more competitive.
The night-cap on Saturday, features two teams that faced off in week 17, the #3 seed in the NFC, the Green Bay Packers, playing host to the #6 seeded Minnesota Vikings. In week 17, the Vikings escaped with a 37-34 win as rookie kicker Blair Walsh kicked a 29 yard field goal as time expired to push Minnesota into the playoffs after going 3-13 in 2011. The Vikings boast the possible 2012 NFL MVP in running back Adrian Peterson, as he came back from major reconstructive knee surgery a year ago, to rush for 2,097 yards, nine yards shy of Erik Dickerson’s single season record. The Vikings defense has also played exceptionally well since their BYE week in week 11 and sacked Aaron Rodgers five times in week 17. They did play another time in the regular season though, back in week 13 where the Packers took care of business at Lambeau Field with a 23-14 win. Peterson ran for 210 yards in week 13 and ran for 199 yards in week 17, so Green Bay HAS to draw up a game plan to try to stop Peterson if they wanna win the playoff game. They key in this game though will be if Vikings QB Christian Ponder can make plays in cold Lambeau and not make let the atmosphere get to him. If Ponder limits his mistakes, the Vikings have a great chance at winning this game, but if the Packers rattle him enough, they could easily run away with the W. This should be a great game.
Game three is on Sunday at 1:00 pm, and it features the first of three rookie QB’s playing on Wildcard weekend. Andrew Luck leads the Indianapolis Colts into their old home of Baltimore to take on the Ravens, who made it to the AFC Championship game last season. This game also marks the possible last time we see Ray Lewis lace up his cleats as he is retiring once the playoffs are over. You just know that with the news of Lewis retiring after the playoffs that the Ravens are going to play their hearts out and make sure Lewis gets a second ring before he leaves the game of football. It’s going to be an emotion filled game for sure and I can’t wait to see how it goes down. The Ravens defense has been very suspect this year and the offense has been hot and cold, so they better hope the defense steps up with the return of Ray Lewis and the offense is hot like they were during week 16 against the Giants. The Colts offense has played well all season long and rank seventh in the NFL in passing yards per game, as Andrew Luck is averaging 258 passing yards per game this season and broke the single season rookie passing yards record. The Colts are 9-2 in their last 11 games, having only lost to the Patriots in Foxborough and the Texans in Houston while playing them twice in those 11 games. The Ravens are 5-5 in their last 10 games having only beaten Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Oakland, San Diego, and the Giants, but losing to Pittsburgh, Denver, Washington, Cincinnati, and Houston, all playoff teams except for Pittsburgh. So that has to be a cause for concern for the Ravens going into this game and facing a potent passing attack. I like this game a lot and can’t wait for it.
Finally, we have what I think is the best game of Wildcard weekend, the Seattle Seahawks travel across the country to Washington D.C. for a big time rookie match up with the Washington Redskins. The defensive edge easily goes to the ‘Hawks as they boast the 10th best run defense and the sixth best pass defense, so for as good as Washington runs the ball (first in the league), they will be tested mightily on Sunday, especially since their only 20th in the league in passing. The Redskins defense is good against the run (fifth), which is big considering the Seahawks are third in rushing and have one of the best RB’s in the game in Marshawn Lynch. The Redskins pass defense isn’t so good as they rank 30th in the league against the pass, but it’s not too bad as the Seahawks have only the 27th passing attack in the NFL. This game will be a ground war and will runt time off the clock quick. It may be a fast game but I don’t think it’ll disappoint with excitement and fireworks. Another thing to ponder, the Seahawks are 8-0 at home this year, but only 3-5 on the road. The Redskins are 5-3 at home and 5-3 on the road. I love this game and am most excited about this game of all four this weekend. Oh, and did I forget to mention we’re getting TWO rookie starting QB’s going head to head in this game? Robert Griffin III, the number two overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, goes up against Russell Wilson, a third round draft pick who wasn’t even supposed to be the starter for Seattle because they signed Matt Flynn in the spring, but because Wilson impressed in the preseason and Flynn disappointed, Wilson was given the chance to start and didn’t disappoint as he has surprised everyone at 5 feet, 10 inches tall and guided the Seahawks to the playoffs in his rookie year and for a third round draft pick has put up rookie of the year type numbers and has broken the NFL single season rookie passing touchdowns record. This game will not disappoint and will be the best game of the weekend, mark my words.
Last Week I went 12-4 with my weekly picks. During the regular season I compiled a 156-81-1 record with my weekly picks, a tremendous 75 games over .500.
My Super Bowl pick before the season began was the Houston Texans over New York Giants. Obviously, my NFC pick is dead but the AFC pick is alive. The question is, is do I wanna stick with Houston in the AFC? Honestly, I don’t feel confident in Houston winning the AFC anymore and I’m changing my pick. My new AFC pick is now the Denver Broncos and my new NFC pick is the Seattle Seahawks. My Super Bowl pick is the Denver Broncos over Seattle Seahawks in a Super Bowl classic. Now that I’ve covered everything here are my picks.
Houston Texans 23 Cincinnati Bengals 20
Green Bay Packers 30 Minnesota Vikings 23
Indianapolis Colts 21 Baltimore Ravens 20
Seattle Seahawks 24 Washington Redskins 17
Picks Against The Spread:
Cincinnati Bengals (+4.5) @ Houston Texans – UNDER 43.5.
Minnesota Vikings (+7.5) @ Green Bay Packers – OVER 46.
Indianapolis Colts (+6.5) @ Baltimore Ravens – UNDER 47.
Seattle Seahawks (-3) @ Washington Redskins – UNDER 46.