Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

NFL Wild Card Predictions & Playoff Picks

Sports Staff |
January 5, 2013 | 11:17 a.m. PST

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Forget Christmas, say hello to the NFL Playoffs!  This Wild Card weekend will be one of the most memorable in a few seasons, featuring a near identical rematch of last year's Wild Card game, a divisional rivalry at a frigid Lambeau, a retiring legend's "last ride", and a matchup between two exciting and mobile rookie quarterbacks hoping to continue their clubs' long winning streaks. 

Our experts pick all four of these games, with much disagreement, and also predict the rest of the playoffs, including Super Bowl XLVII. 

Andy Dalton has been here before. Will he be able to rewrite history Saturday? (JoeCostello/Creative Commons)
Andy Dalton has been here before. Will he be able to rewrite history Saturday? (JoeCostello/Creative Commons)
(6) Cincinnati Bengals @ (3) Houston Texans

Bergman: Bengals 23, Texans 20

One year removed from the exact same playoff matchup in the exact same time slot, the result of this Bengals-Texans bout will not be the same as last year. Houston is coming into Saturday in an offensive lull, despite having a healthy Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson this time around. The Texan offense has averaged less than 17 points per game during their last four games, three of which they lost. The Bengals have won their last three and seven of their last eight and boasts the best QB-WR combo in this game: Andy-to-A.J. Using the Colts' strategy from last week, the Bengals will find big plays through the air against the Texans' defense, balanced with a consistent rushing attack, and will put an end to Houston's underwhelming season.

Budrovich: Bengals over Texans

Fischman: Bengals 24, Texans 17

The Texans can’t expect to limp into the playoffs and win by merely showing up. In order to win, they’re going to have to play a lot better than they’ve been, but NFL teams can’t typically turn on winning like flipping a light switch. Look for Cincy’s defense to shine, sending Houston into an early-postseason knockout.

Freedman: Texans 23, Bengals 17

The Bengals finished strong, winning seven of their last eight with the only loss coming by one point. The Texans lost three of their last four to stumble out of a bye, but I'm still taking the home team. First of all, the Bengals are 0-5 all-time in road playoff games. Last year, the Texans clobbered Cincy 31-10 in the first round, and that was with T.J. Yates at quarterback. Matt Schaub is an upgrade there, while Andy Dalton has cooled off as he's played better pass defenses later in the season. The Texans aren't riding high into the postseason, but they'll have enough to knock off an un-special Bengals squad in Houston.

Meyer: Texans 17, Bengals 14

If not for the Cowboys incredible comeback against them, the Bengals would be entering the playoffs on an eight-game winning streak. The Texans, on the other hand, are faltering. However, I just don't trust Andy Dalton and I think the Texans defense will make a couple of huge plays that determine the outcome of the game.

Murray: Texans 17, Bengals 13

Debated this one for a long, long time. I have every reason not to pick the Texans: RB Arian Foster looks like he's peaked from the three-year workload, QB Matt Schaub has one TD pass in his last four games, the defense has allowed nine TD passes and one INT (in MNF garbage time) in that same timeframe. The Texans also have the worst special teams in the league. The Texans are going into the playoffs having lost three of their last four, just like last season. Meanwhile, the Bengals have won seven of eight, not allowing more than 20 points in either of those contests. Then I watched last year's Wild Card game between these two teams, as well as the regular season games in 2011 and 2009 and remembered: Texans head coach Gary Kubiak is 4-0 against Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. As great as the Bengals' defense is (shout out to DT Geno Atkins), they're not likely to shut down Foster. On the other side, Bengals QB Andy Dalton was tortured by the Texans' overaggressive defense last year, and I'm not sure if RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis will adjust that. Bengals WR A.J. Green will make the Texans pay for blitzing, but for the most part, I think Texans DE J.J. Watt dominates this game.

Tufts: Texans over Bengals

The Vikings and the Packers are very familiar with one another. (Wikimedia Commons)
The Vikings and the Packers are very familiar with one another. (Wikimedia Commons)
(6) Minnesota Vikings @ (3) Green Bay Packers

Bergman: Packers 31, Vikings 16

Forget last week. Forget nine yards short. Forget the regular season. This is a playoff game at Lambeau Field. Green Bay should already be getting at least a touchdown in spread points for that. Plus, this year, the Vikings are an impressively horrid 0-4 in outdoor games, including a game at Lambeau earlier in the season. Adrian Peterson may find some running room and break 100 yards, but that's all the Viking offense will be able to do. Christian Ponder tweaked his elbow last week and will never have played a colder game in his life - 21 degrees and flurries; expect Dom Capers's defense to stack the box, forcing the second-year QB to make the throws that count. He won't, and Minnesota will fall, or freeze over, which ever comes first.

Budrovich: Packers over Vikings

Fischman: Packers 27, Vikings 23

The teams split their two meetings during the year. Adrian Peterson went berserk both times, but what’s new? Peterson is my MVP (for the record, I have Peyton Manning for Comeback Player of the Year), but I don’t expect last year’s MVP (Aaron Rodgers) to lose twice to the Vikings in as many weeks. Playing at Lambeau Field with a healthy group of talented receivers, Rodgers will pull his team through to victory. In the loss, Peterson will rush for at least 150 yards yet again.  

Freedman: Packers 28, Vikings 20

I'm sure Vikings fans love that I keep picking against them, but I'm doing it again. Aaron Rodgers threw for 365 yards and four touchdowns in the Packers' 37-34 loss to the Vikings last week. Adrian Peterson is the best running back of our generation, but we live in a passing-based league and the Packers' aerial attack is more reliable on a game-to-game basis. Plus, you'd think Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers would stack the box more this time around. AP has been amazing and should be the league MVP, but the Packers aren't letting lightning strike twice, especially outside in the frigid Wisconsin winter.

Meyer: Packers 31, Vikings 20

The Packers have dominated all of their divisional rivals over the past couple of years. I expect Adrian Peterson to have a good, but not great game. I simply can't bet against Aaron Rodgers, and I definitely can't pick Christian Ponder on the road in his first career playoff game. 

Murray: Packers 21, Vikings 17

RB Adrian Peterson will do his thing as far as keeping the Vikings in the game, and the Vikings' pass rush will bear down on Packers QB Aaron Rodgers all game. The Vikings also have a significant special teams advantage, matching up the best K in the league (Vikings rookie Blair Walsh hit 10 50+ yard FGs) with the worst (Packers K Mason Crosby hit only 64% of his FGs, worst in the league). Here's the thing: Vikings QB Christian Ponder played college football at Florida State. He plays home games in a dome. He'll be playing on the "frozen tundra" of Lambeau Field the night of my birthday, and he has not performed well at all in Green Bay (28/59, 309 passing yards, one TD, three INTs, 0-2 record). I believe Ponder's main problem is his timid approach to downfield passing, which his healthy receivers (Jerome Simpson, Michael Jenkins) don't make easier by failing to separate. The Packers were torched by Ponder and rookie WR Jarius Wright in the dome Sunday, but I'll be surprised to see the Packers give up those plays with SS Charles Woodson back in action.

Tufts: Packers over Vikings

Ray Lewis is retiring after the season, but not without leading his Ravens on another playoff run. (Wikimedia Commons)
Ray Lewis is retiring after the season, but not without leading his Ravens on another playoff run. (Wikimedia Commons)
(5) Indianapolis Colts @ (4) Baltimore Ravens

Bergman: Ravens 24, Colts 20

Now I'm not usually one to weigh intangibles along side the hard facts when picking these games; emotions are too risky and shift rapidly during a game. However if the Colts' run since Chuck Pagano's hiatus has taught me anything, it is that when there is something outside the lines that the men inside the lines are fighting for, then they will fight harder than anyone in their way, no matter how talented and skilled their opponents may be. And for that exact reason, I am picking the Ravens. With Chuck back, the emotional roller coaster is over in Indy, but one has just started up in Baltimore with Ray Lewis planning on retiring at the end of this season. The Baltimore offense is heating up and Ray Rice may just go for 200 yards on the ground on a Colt defense that has struggled year-round stopping the run. Add a little dose of the Ray Lewis pre-game shimmy and a spirited Ravens crowd, and Baltimore will control this game from the first snap. 

Budrovich: Ravens over Colts

Fischman: Colts 28, Ravens 24

I’m picking momentum over experience. I’m also going with my gut. On paper, a rested Ray Rice and up-and-coming Bernard Pierce should be able to run all over the Indianapolis defense, but something seems special about the Colts. I don’t want to say it’s because of Chuck Pagano, because the Ravens will be fighting just as hard to win for Ray Lewis in what could be his final game. Call it L-U-C-K, if you want, but the Colts will stun Baltimore.

Freedman: Ravens 21, Colts 14

Easily the most agonizing pick of the week. Even the emotional factors, Chuck Pagano's spirited return vs. Ray Lewis's final postseason, balance each other out. The Colts turn the ball over too much, nearly twice a game, while Ray Rice will have a grand ol' time against the league's 29th-ranked run defense. The Colts have allowed 487 rushing yards to their opponent's leading running back the last three weeks, while the Ravens' passing defense made big strides towards the end of the season. Andrew Luck won 11 games with an average-at-best roster, but the methodical Ravens offense and improving Ravens defense will control the clock and shut down the Colts.

Meyer: Ravens 27, Colts 14

The story of Chuck Pagano has been an outstanding one, but the Ravens now have their motivation after Ray Lewis announced he's retiring after the season. The Ravens play much better at home, and the Colts play much worse on the road. Plus, Joe Flacco's playoff experience will be the key. He's had more playoff starts than the other seven Wild Card quarterbacks combined. 

Murray: Ravens 24, Colts 21

I see what you did there Ray Ray. With Ravens ILB Ray Lewis announcing his retirement after the season while simultaneously returning to the team after a ten-game absence, he gives his team the emotional edge the week of former Ravens defensive coordinator and current Colts head coach Chuck Pagano's return to Baltimore. #ChuckStrong vs. #WhatTimeIsIt? The Ravens have played soulless defense with Lewis and OLB Terrell Suggs out, allowing 15 rushing TDs, the most since Lewis missed ten games in 2002. The Colts aren't really built to take advantage of this defense though. Rookie QB Andrew Luck threw 13 of his 18 INTs on the road, and he'll have to look for out for FS Ed Reed. The Colts defense (5.1 yards per rush allowed, 31st in the league) won't offer much resistance against RB Ray Rice. Since head coach John Harbaugh and QB Joe Flacco joined the Ravens in 2008, they are 4-0 in their first playoff game.

Tufts: Ravens over Colts

RGIII is eyeing his first postseason victory against fellow rookie Russell Wilson. (Wikimedia Commons)
RGIII is eyeing his first postseason victory against fellow rookie Russell Wilson. (Wikimedia Commons)
(5) Seattle Seahawks @ (4) Washington Redskins

Bergman: Redskins 29, Seahawks 28

When RGIII and Russell Wilson are done with this one, there may not even be a recognizable grass field at FedEx to play on. The two rookies have scorched defenses all year in the air and on the ground, and will continue to scorch earth in this matchup. The media is causing a hubbub about RGIII's weak knees, but in the playoffs, all injuries become secondary and the Redskins' leader will play with intense will. While both clubs are on impressive winning streaks, the Seahawks pulled up lame in their last effort versus St. Louis, unable to display the offensive domination that had previously brought them so much success and publicity.  The Skins' D will have trouble early, but I expect it to rebound in the second half, allowing time for some RGIII magic to take over late.  A la Tebow last year, the legend of the newest DC superhero will be cemented in a fast and furious comeback. 

Budrovich: Seahawks over Redskins

Fischman: Redskins 27, Seahawks 21

This game has everything you could ask for: Two rookie quarterbacks who play like veterans, two teams that run the ball extremely well and the two hottest teams in the NFC. Washington has won seven straight, while Seattle has won seven of its last eight. I originally picked the Seahawks, because they’re the more complete team. I’ve reconsidered, however, for two reasons. First, I’m not convinced the Seahawks will play to their full capability on the road, but more importantly, Alfred Morris is a beast. No one can stop him, even a Seattle defense that allows the fewest points per game in the league (15.3). I know Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch plays for the other time, but Morris’ efforts will keep his team alive for at least another week.

Freedman: Seahawks 30, Redskins 21

The Seahawks are on fire, winning five in a row and seven of their last eight. The Redskins are on fire, winning their final seven games to sneak into the playoffs. What happens when fire meets fire? You take the better defense, of course. The Seahawks are allowing under 11 points per game over their last four, and boast the NFL's best cornerback tandem with Brandon Browner returning from his four-game suspension and Richard Sherman having won his suspension appeal last week. As spectacular as he's been, Robert Griffin III has passed for over 200 yards only once in his last four outings and is still wearing a brace after injuring his knee a few weeks back. The Seahawks may be in a different Washington than they're used to, but Russell Wilson will prove he's the better passing rookie in this one and lead the Seahawks into the second round.

Meyer: Seahawks 28, Redskins 21

I'm very excited for what should be the best game in the Wild Card round. I think the Seahawks have the perfect defense to stop the Redskins' rushing attack. Both rookie quarterbacks will shine, but I think Russell Wilson will have the bigger game against a questionable Redskins defense.

Murray: Redskins 23, Seahawks 21

Redskins rookie QB Robert Griffin III vs. Seahawks rookie QB Russell Wilson. Last season, these two teams played up in Seattle, and the starting QBs were Rex Grossman for the Redskins and Tarvaris Jackson for the Seahawks. The Redskins only won five games last season and had 35 turnovers (30th in the NFL), but they managed to win in Seattle 23-17, taking a late lead before shutting down Jackson. This year, the Redskins have the fewest turnovers in the league (14) and the best running game, featuring rookie RB Alfred Morris. If there is a weak link of the Seahawks' defense, it is against the run, where they allowed 4.5 yards per rush (23rd in the league). If the Redskins can control the clock, grind out tough yards, and get the ball in the end zone, they'll give their defense an opportunity to blitz Wilson, a native of nearby Richmond, Va. 

Tufts: Seahawks over Redskins

2013 NFL Playoff Picks

Bergman:

AFC Wild Card: Bengals over Texans, Ravens over Colts

AFC Divisional: Broncos over Bengals, Patriots over Ravens

AFC Championship: Broncos over Patriots

NFC Wild Card: Packers over Vikings, Redskins over Seahawks

NFC Divisional: Falcons over Redskins, 49ers over Packers

NFC Championship: 49ers over Falcons

Super Bowl: Broncos 24, 49ers 13

Budrovich:

AFC Wild Card: Bengals over Texans, Ravens over Colts

AFC Divisional: Broncos over Bengals, Patriots over Ravens

AFC Championship: Patriots over Broncos

NFC Wild Card: Packers over Vikings, Seahawks over Redskins

NFC Divisional: Falcons over Seahawks, 49ers over Packers

NFC Championship: 49ers over Falcons

Super Bowl: Patriots 27, 49ers 21

Fischman

AFC Wild Card: Colts over Ravens, Bengals over Texans

AFC Divisional: Broncos over Bengals, Patriots over Colts

AFC Conference: Patriots over Broncos  

NFC Wild Card: Redskins over Seahawks, Packers over Vikings

NFC Divisional: Falcons over Redskins, 49ers over Packers

NFC Conference: 49ers over Falcons

Super Bowl: Patriots over 49ers

Freedman:

AFC Wild Card: Texans over Bengals, Ravens over Colts

AFC Divisional: Broncos over Ravens, Patriots over Texans

AFC Championship: Patriots over Broncos

NFC Wild Card: Seahawks over Redskins, Packers over Vikings

NFC Divisional: Seahawks over Falcons, 49ers over Packers

NFC Championship: 49ers over Seahawks

Super Bowl: Patriots over 49ers

Meyer

AFC Wild Card: Texans over Bengals, Ravens over Colts

Divisional: Patriots over Texans, Broncos over Patriots

Championship: Patriots over Broncos

NFC Wild Card: Packers over Vikings, Seahawks over Redskins

NFC Divisional: Seahawks over Falcons, Packers over 49ers

NFC Championship: Packers over Seahawks

Super Bowl: Patriots 31, Packers 28

Murray:

AFC Wild Card: Texans over Bengals, Ravens over Colts 

AFC Divisional: Broncos over Ravens, Patriots over Texans

AFC Championship: Broncos over Patriots

NFC Wild Card: Packers over Vikings, Redskins over Seahawks

NFC Divisional: Falcons over Redskins, Packers over 49ers

NFC Championship: Packers over Falcons

Super Bowl: Broncos 31, Packers 21

Tufts

AFC Wild Card: Texans over Bengals, Ravens over Colts

AFC Divisional: Broncos over Ravens, Patriots over Texans

AFC Championship: Patriots over Broncos

NFC Wild Card: Packers over Vikings, Seahawks over Redskins

NFC Divisional: 49ers over Packers, Falcons over Seahawks

NFC Championship: Falcons over 49ers

Super Bowl: Patriots 38, Falcons 35

Season Standings

Matthew Tufts 54-25

Max Meyer 58-28

Evan Budrovich 55-30

Jeremy Bergman 53-33

Jacob Freedman 52-34

Aaron Fischman 49-37

Law Murray 39-36



 

Live On Twitter

Buzz

These works vividly depict the nationwide grief over last night's verdict.

Here's a look at the protests that made their way through the USC University Park Campus area Monday night. 

 


Comments

nike lunar eclipse 4 (not verified) on November 23, 2013 1:27 AM

plenty of methods you can utilize in your social
[url=http://australiancherries.com.au/wp-includes/lunareclips.php]nike lunar eclipse 4[/url]
nike lunar eclipse 4

Your rating: None
nike free billig (not verified) on November 23, 2013 1:26 AM

will be powerful ,successful and also lengthy prolonged .There are other
[url=http://xinchuan.njnu.edu.cn/geoguanli/news-repple.asp]nike free billig[/url]
nike free billig

Your rating: None
Portable Induction Cooktop (not verified) on February 2, 2014 9:26 AM

Howdy would you mind letting me know which webhost
you're utilizing? I've loaded your blog in 3 different internet
browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker then most.
Can you recommend a good internet hosting provider at a
honest price? Thank you, I appreciate it!

Your rating: None
moncler sale (not verified) on November 21, 2013 11:11 PM

Woah! I'm really enjoying the template/theme of this blog. It's simple, yet effective. A lot of times it's very hard to get that "perfect balance" between usability and visual appeal. I must say that you've done a very good job with this. Additionally, the blog loads very quick for me on Opera. Exceptional Blog!

Your rating: None
cheap Nike Air Max (not verified) on November 21, 2013 11:11 PM

Greetings, I do believe your site could possibly be having browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Besides that, great site!

Your rating: None

Leave a comment

Name
E-mail*
URL
Comments*
ntrandomness