Ron Glover’s NFL Wild Card Picks: Vikings out to bounce Packers in rubber match; L.O.N.S. meet in DC
The Ravens get the fire-breathing Ray Lewis back in time for the playoffs.
We could be in for one of the great wild card weekends in recent memory. In the AFC, the Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans meet in rematch of last year’s wild card round. The Bengals are looking to take advantage of a Texans squad – who have three of four games in December. The inspired Indianapolis Colts go on the road to face a Baltimore Ravens team motivated to send Ray Lewis out on top. Earlier this week, Lewis indicated that he will be retiring when the Ravens exit the playoffs
The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings meet for the third time this season, their second in as many weeks. Minnesota punched their playoff ticket with a victory over their division foes last week. Adrian Peterson remains the key to the Vikings success. Peterson has averaged over 200 yards rushing against the Packers this season. The meeting between the Washington Redskins and the Seattle Seahawks matches up two of the top rookie quarterbacks this season. Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson have captivated the NFL with the poise of seasoned veterans, mixed with youthful energy.
Saturday January 5, 2013, 4:30 pm:
Cincinnati Bengals 10-6 at Houston Texans 12-4 - The Texans failed miserably in December and it cost them home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Texans have been outscored 27-16 during their December slumber. The Bengals on the other hand, won three consecutive games to close out December. A one-point loss to the Cowboys at home was their lone defeat.
Prediction: The Texans need to put December and the regular season behind them. The Bengals need the services of running back Benjarvus Green-Ellis in the worst way. Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and the offensive line have to be in sync and J.J. Watt to disrupt their rhythm. Andre Johnson has only four touchdowns this season, which means Matt Schaub is spreading the ball around effectively. Arian Foster needs to hold onto the rock, he could be in for a big workload.
Texans 24 – Bengals 22
Saturday January 5, 2013, 8:00, pm:
Minnesota Vikings (10-6) at Green Bay Packers (11-5) – Teams in the NFC North beat on one another to the point where the 10-6 Chicago Bears missed the playoffs. These two teams are more evenly matched than most would think. The Packers rely on the pass and the Vikings lean on Adrian Peterson — who as shredded the Packers defense this season to the tune of 409 yards over two games. This game will come down to what Packers defense shows up.
Prediction: Christian Ponder threw three touchdown passes in the season finale. If he can throw for two scores and protect the ball, Minnesota’s chances become better than good. As long as Adrian Peterson has guys blocking in front of him for a nanosecond, anything is possible. The Packers will have their full complement of receivers available for Aaron Rodgers to pick his spots.
Packers 31 – Vikings 20
Sunday January 6, 2013, 1:00 pm:
Indianapolis Colts (11-5) at Baltimore Ravens (10-6) - This game used to be a chess match between Ray Lewis and Peyton Manning. Now Manning is in Denver and Lewis is beginning his final playoff run. The attention shifts to rookie Andrew Luck and veteran Joe Flacco. Both teams have their inspirational leaders return just in time for the post season. Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano returned last week after undergoing chemotherapy treatments for twelve weeks. Ray Lewis returns to the Ravens after tearing his triceps in Week 6 against the Cowboys.
Prediction: Ray Lewis’ words to Joe Flacco after last year’s AFC Championship loss have been played repeatedly in his head. Flacco doesn’t want to be the man responsible for sending Lewis into retirement. Baltimore would never forgive him. Unfortunately, the Ravens hopes do rest on Flacco. The offense must lean on Ray Rice when things get fuzzy. This contest will come down to a battle of wills. The Ravens will make it ugly and survive another week.
Ravens 20 – Colts 16
Sunday January 6, 2013, 4:30 pm:
Seattle Seahawks (11-5) at Washington Redskins (10-6) – This game has all the makings of a classic. Two young star quarterbacks, two power running games and two coaches seasoned in their craft. Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson have the same number of passing attempts (393). Griffin has completed six more passes (258 to 252). Offensively, both teams have power backs and decent receivers. Seattle’s secondary could be the key here, but the Skins D rises to the occasion when it has to.
Prediction: The Redskins may be better suited for a potential shootout. Seattle is looking to take away Washington’s receivers and hope for some success containing running back Alfred Morris. If they hope to contain Griffin. Washington’s defense needs to take Marshawn Lynch out of Seattle’s game plan early. Washington has to be wary of Pete Carroll’s college trickery.
Redskins 27 – Seahawks 24