While twenty other teams are either sitting at home crying because they couldn’t talk their way to a Lombardi,or getting ready for the golf course, twelve teams are going to be competing over the next few weeks to decided which two teams will battle it out on February 5, 2012 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XVI.
Which team will it be. On the AFC side, listed by seeding, you have the New England Patriots, the Baltimore Ravens, the Houston Texans, the Denver Broncos, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Cincinnati Bengals. On the NFC side, listed by seeding, you have the Green Bay Packers, the San Fransisco 49ers, the New Orleans Saints, the New York Giants, the Atlanta Falcons, and the Detroit Lions.
Here are my picks for this weekend’s Wild Card Weekend.
Saturday, January 7, 2012: Cincinnati (6) at Houston (3) 4:30pm (NBC)
This game is a tossup. Houston is the AFC South winner, and has been able to get to a 10-6 record despite injuries to it’s top stars (Mario Williams on IR, Schaub , Leinart both on IR, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson both in and out of lineup due to injuries). Unfortunately, they are down to their third string QB, T.J. Yates, and he has a separated left (non throwing) shoulder. Defensive coordinator Wade Philips who has done a great job, is just back from surgery, so that should help. However, the Texans are on a three game losing skid.
The Bengals have a rookie QB in Andy Dalton who is now recovering from the flu, and has returned to practice after being in the hospital on Wednesday. It is a young Bengals team, and Marvin Lewis has done a good job in getting the team to play well.
Prediction: This game is hard to call. It may come down to which QB can handle the big moment of the playoffs. The Texans are at home,so I am going to pick the Texans 27-20.
Saturday, January 7, 2012 : Detroit (6th) at New Orleans (3) NBC
Well, this game may be the most entertaining game of the weekend. With the offensive weapons on both sides , I am expecting this game to be a high scoring game. That is for sure. Saints QB Brees has Sproles, and Marques Colston, etc. Lions QB Stafford has Calvin Johson, Nate Burleson, etc. Both teams have pretty decent defenses as well.
Well, the game is taking place in the Super Dome where it is home for New Orleans. The Saints definitely have an advantage. That home crowd is excruciatingly loud. The atmosphere, and the fast track that the team plays on definitely favors New Orleans. Opposing teams definitely have a hard time hearing their own calls and such. I am sure Gregg Williams, the defensive coordinator is going to have some stuff for the Lions’ offense.
Now, the Lions have a shot. It is not totally impossible, but the team has to be disciplined, and have little mistakes. However, if a team has issues in the regular season, those issues usually pop up in the post season. However, if they can cut down the mistakes, and do something creative on offense, maybe they have a shot.
Prediction: Even though the Lions are going to give the Saints a fight, I think the Saints will win this game comfortably. Saints: 42-30
Sunday, January 8, 2012 Atlanta (5) at New York (4) 1:00pm FOX
Well, this game is tough to call. Let’s start with the Falcons. They finished with a 10-6 record, but they were kind of up and down for me. They did a great job with the Bucs, but, that was the Bucs. Matt Ryan has great weapons like Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, and Michael Turner.
The Giants have been hard to figure out. They have been hit with injuries in pre season, and have had their usual great start, and then started their nose dive after the first half of the season, until they somehow got out of their funk, and even though they lost, gave the Green Bay Packers a run for their money, and fought their way to a 9-7 record, and beat the Cowboys twice, and won the NFC East. Several guys such as Osi Umeniyiora , and Justin Tuck are getting healthier. The defense is once again getting back to being excellent, and Eli Manning is having one of his best season.
Prediction: The way the Giants are playing, it is reminiscent of their play in 2007. Of course, this game is in their home stadium of Met Life Stadium (It is still the Meadowlands to this Jersey Girl. I live in Kentucky, but I am from NJ originally, so I will always consider myself a Jersey girl), and at times, playing at home has been a detriment to the team (loss to the Seahawks comes to mind). However, I am not so sure of the Falcons, a dome team, coming in there and winning. I think it will be a close game though. Giants win. 30-24.
January 8, 2012: Pittsburgh (5) at Denver (4) 4:30pm CBS
Well, on paper, the Pittsburgh Steelers should BLAST this team. I mean, seriously, in the Bronco’s last game, they scored 3 points against the Chiefs. I know it is not cool to criticize Tim Tebow, but if that Chiefs game was not a demonstration of the kid’s inability to play QB, then I don’t know what is. If the guy can’t handle the Chiefs, what do people think he is going to do with the #1 ranked defense in the NFL?
That being said, the games are not played “on paper,” but on the field. Continuing with the Broncos, they have a very good defense with Von Miller and Champ Bailey, and Elvis Dumervil. Their offense is anemic. I don’t see them challenging the Steelers defense.
The STeelers, if their elite QB Ben Roethlisberger were healthy, would wipe the floor with the Broncos. Unfortunately, he suffered a high ankle sprain a few weeks ago, and has been less mobile since. The Steelers are going into Denver without Ryan Clark, one of their Defensive Backs due to a sickle cell condition. Their star center , Marquise Pouncey may not play due to aggravating a high ankle sprain. Several of their offensive linemen are banged up.
Well, those are my picks. I hope everyone enjoys the games. I am sure there will be an upset this weekend somewhere, but I did my best here.
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/missedgehead