The NFL wildcard weekend kicked off the playoffs with results that were for the most part expected. Only one of he four games finished within one score, although none of the other three can really be called blowouts either. The NFL playoffs head into the divisional round next weekend, and pundits are already weighing in and offering up predictions. As the playoffs are whittled down to the “Elite Eight”, the divisional round is typically considered the best weekend of football in the NFL season, according to the N.Y. Daily News today.
First, the wildcard results in case you missed were in a coma this weekend. On Saturday, the Houston Texans eked out their 19-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals by relying on four field goals.
The Texans’ lack of production in the scoring zone is a big red flag, especially as they head north to take on the high-powered New England Patriots next week.
Arian Foster was the star of this game for Houston, picking up 140 yards on 32 carries, including the game's only offensive touchdown from the one yard line in the third quarter, according to the Bleacher Report.
In the second game Saturday, the Green Bay Packers defeated the Minnesota Vikings 24-10, after a last minute announcement that the Vikings would be without starting quarterback Christian Ponder due to a right elbow injury.
That meant turning to backup Joe Webb, who hadn't thrown a pass during the regular season. Reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers threw for 274 yards and a nine-yard TD to John Kuhn that put them up 24-3, and pretty much putting the game out of reach in the third quarter.
On Sunday, The Baltimore Ravens took care of the Indianapolis Colts with a score of 24-9. Anquan Boldin logged five catches for 145 yards, including a key 18-yard TD grab in the fourth quarter, despite tight coverage from the Colts’ Darius Butler.
The last match of the wildcard round saw the Seattle Seahawks take down the Washington Redskins 24-14. The ‘skins shot out to a 14-0 lead with their first two possessions, but a knee injury to quarterback RGIII ultimately sealed their fate.
Looking ahead, Matt Fitzgerald from Bleacher offers up his predictions on next weekends battles.
The Ravens will take on the Broncos in Denver on Saturday at 4:30 EST on CBS. Even with the strengths of QB Joe Flacco, the Broncos are expected to win decisively here. They are arguably playing the best football of any team in the league at this point, and have also had that important bye week to rest up.
The Packers head to the coast to take on the 49ers in the second Saturday game at 8:00 EST on Fox. Green Bay is at a clear disadvantage given their lack of strength in their running game and defense.
Factor in the double threat of RB Frank Gore’s rushing, and Colin Kaepernick’s, “rocket arm, massive size and explosive athleticism”, and this game is being called in favor of San Fran.
On Sunday at 1:00 EST on Fox, the Seahawks will be in Atlanta to face the Falcons. Seattle must be viewed as the best team in the NFC at this point. They are just too strong defensively and too explosive on offense to be put down, game goes to Seattle.
The final divisional game will be on CBS Sunday at 4:30 EST when the Texans do battle in New England with the Patriots. This is predicted to be a win for the Pats by the biggest margin of the four playoff games. The bye week helped heal some wounds for Rob Ninkovich and Aqib Talib.
The Pats trounced Houston 42-14 during the regular season. With superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski on the field, Brady & Co. will be “unstoppable”.
What do you think? Sound off with your own predictions.