Bengals at Texans – Cincinnati is surging, winning seven of their past eight games. Houston completed a choke job when they needed to win one of their last to obtain home field advantage. The Bengals score a lot of points for only having one true weapon. The Texans have weapons all over the field – Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels – and they will be squaring off against one of the two finest defensive lines in football (along with the 49ers). Geno Atkins is a beast, but so is J.J. Watt. I’ll take Houston in a close one, primarily due to the home field advantage. Houston 24, Cincinnati 17.
Vikings at Packers – Adrian Peterson had one of the most astounding seasons in NFL season. Returning from a severe knee injury to come within nine rushing yards of surpassing the most hallowed record was unfathomable at the beginning of the season. The Vikings would need a repeat efficient performance by Christian Ponder for a chance at victory. Green Bay may not have a running game, but that Aaron Rodgers is an ok quarterback. The Packers will be furious that they lost last week to take away their opportunity for a bye. Green Bay 34, Minnesota 21.
Colts at Ravens – This game is brimming with intrigue. Indy’s head coach, Chuck Pagano, is recovering from leukemia treatments that kept him sidelined the majority of the season. Rookie QB Andrew Luck had a rallying effect on the Colt franchise. He makes mistakes, but what rookie doesn’t? Luck always had the team in games, despite a substandard running game. Baltimore has slumped after a 9-2 start. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was fired primarily due to not using all-purpose running back Ray Rice enough. Joe Flacco has had some postseason successes, but has yet to deliver on the biggest stage. Then, there’s Ray Lewis announcing that he will retire following this season. Baltimore is buoyed by the emotion of Lewis’ departure. Baltimore 23, Indianapolis 20.
Seahawks at Redskins – The teams have a lot of similarities. Rookie QB? Great running game? Lousy wide receivers? Low expectations prior to 2012? Check. Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III will lead their teams in a very interesting matchup. Washington has its second home playoff game in the last 20 years (which is an indictment of Daniel Snyder more than anything). The major difference in this contest is on the defensive side of the ball. If Washington defensive coordinator blitzes as often as he did last week, Wilson has enough athleticism to make the ‘Skins pay with plays outside the pocket. Seattle should use their rush techniques to come upfield to blitz the run and force the Redskin receivers to beat them. If they can maintain their gaps, Washington will not be able to rely exclusively on the run. Seattle 24, Washington 19.
About the Author
Written by Rob Stroup
I grew up in western Pennsylvania, so I have followed the Pittsburgh sports teams (Steelers, Penguins, Pirates) since the womb. It has become a tradition to make the yearly trek to a Steelers and Penguins game each year despite the distance. I hope to make writing a profession because I thoroughly enjoy attempting to paint a picture with words.