#6 Bengals at #3 Texans
Danny: HOU 27 CIN 13 – The Texans, like the Ravens are as Dennis Green once said with vitriol “who we thought they were.” As Green’s Cardinals let the Bears off the hook, I expect the Bengals to do the same. People question the Texans toughness and heart, their character, but I see a team with guts. Look to Week 6 when the Texans were blown out at home by the Packers and came back and blew out the Ravens 43-13 in Week 7. Or how about the time Matt Schaub lost part of his ear and still was able to lead the Texans to a road win over Super Bowl favorite Denver? Most people see a team stumbling into the playoffs, but I see a team that come Saturday will look hungry to earn their franchise’s second playoff win against the same team they defeated last year with their backup quarterback.
Wes: HOU 20 CIN 17- In a rematch of last year’s wild card game, I think the Texans once again come out on top. The Bengals have won seven of their last eight games, and hot teams are dangerous come playoff time, but I just have more faith in Houston. Although I have heard a lot of positive talk during the past week regarding the Bengals’ defense, I still think the Texans’ defense is better. The Texans lost three of their final five games, but I still think they are the better overall team, as they finished with two more wins than the Bengals. Houston won last year’s game with T.J. Yates under center, so Houston should be the obvious pick now that Matt Schaub is back healthy.
Garr: CIN 24 HOU 19 – The two teams meet for the second straight year, only it’s Matt Schaub playing QB for Houston, not TJ Yates. But let’s focus on this year. Cincinnati finished the season at 7-1, only losing to Dallas by one point. Houston on the other hand, seemed to have the 1 seed locked up in early December but lost three of their last four games, falling down to the third seed. This goes for any playoffs in any sport: Getting on a hot streak at the right time definitely helps. Schaub stumbles in his first postseason start as the Bengals ride the hot streak into Denver.
#6 Minnesota at #3 Green Bay
Danny: GB 27 MIN 14 – Adrian Peterson has never rushed for less than 212 yards in a game in which the temperature was below freezing per ESPN Stats & Info. Furthermore, Adrian Peterson has 409 rushing yards vs. the Packers this season including a staggering 230 yards after contact. With the temperature at game time figuring to be in the low 20’s, suffice to say Peterson will run for at least 200 in this one. The Vikings are 7-1 at home where Ponder believe it or not has been every bit as good as Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. It’s not that Ponder struggles on the road, it’s that Ponder struggles when games are outside. Ponder and the Vikings are 0-4 outside this season, where his quarterback rating is almost 30 points lower than his indoor stats. The Dallas native and former Florida State Seminole is going to need to overcome the cold if the Vikings are to survive the nine-in-the- box Green Bay is certain to show. I’ll follow their track records and take Aaron Rodgers and the frozen tundra in this one.
Wes: GB 31 MIN 24- Although the Vikings proved their mettle in last week’s victory over the Packers, I don’t think they can pull off the upset twice in two weeks, especially with this week’s game being played in Green Bay. Minnesota should once again rely heavily on Adrian Peterson if they have any shot of winning on the road. I’m not predicting a blowout, as could feasibly be suggested, but I think the Packers will prevail when all is said and done because of the huge advantages they have at the quarterback and wide receiver positions.
Garr: GB 31 MIN 14 – I want to see Adrian Peterson run for 500 yards in this game as much as the next guy, and you know what? He might. But if you’re asking me whether or not I want Aaron Rodgers or Christian Ponder to lead my team in the playoffs, I’m taking Rodgers every time. If the Packers stop Peterson, the Vikings don’t have anything else to rely on. And after playing Peterson twice, getting smoked both times, the Packers D will make Peterson their number 1 priority.