At FanIQ we have a lot of opinions, and come NFL playoff time, we like expressing them. So today three of us, me, Pat and our newest featured writer, Carlo, will preview Wild Card Weekend and make picks. One of us plans to leave with bragging rights. Or do you know better than all of us?
Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans, Saturday 4:30 p.m. ET, NBC
If Matt Schaub was healthy, the Bengals wouldn't have a chance. But with the likes of TJ Yates and Jake Delhomme at the helm in Houston, things are a lot trickier. Still, Arian Foster is a beast, and the Texans defense is solid. Andy Dalton might have to wait to get his first playoff win.
Pick: Texans 20, Bengals 13
This game is a tough call even though Houston is the slight favorite. And I think neither of these teams has a shot at advancing to the AFC Championship Game. Nonetheless, the matchup between Pro Bowlers A.J. Green and Jonathan Joseph, who will likely “shadow” the dynamic rookie receiver, will be fun to watch – Joseph held Green to five catches and 59 yards on Dec. 11. Also worth noting is that Andy Dalton has been considerably worse throughout the second half of the season and will face a solid Texans pass defense. While I trust Houston’s outstanding rushing attack, I do not have as much faith in T.J. Yates. Ultimately, I think the Bengals will secure a win in a very close game.
Pick: Bengals 20, Texans 17
The fact that this is a playoff game pisses me off. Do you know how many playoff teams the Bengals beat this season? Zero, zilch, nada, none. Their best win was probably over Tennessee. Meanwhile, Houston played in an atrocious division, and jumped out to a big lead before Matt Schaub got hurt, putting the division out of reach. Whoever wins this rematch of Houston’s week 14 20-19 victory will undoubtedly be dispatched next round.
Pick: Texans 20, Bengals 19
Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints, Saturday 8 p.m. ET, NBC
This could end up being a shootout, with Drew Brees and the league's most dangerous offense on one side and the league's most prolific QB-WR duo in Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson on the other. In the end, the Saints just have too many weapons.
Pick: Saints 31, Lions 30
New Orleans is arguably the NFL’s hottest team and a trendy pick to knock off the 15-1 Packers and even win the Super Bowl. Although the Saints have been destroying teams of late, Detroit has a decent chance to win thanks to its passing attack. Megatron should have a better game than he did in these teams’ Dec. 4th meeting, though a rejuvenated Kevin Smith could be the actual difference maker in helping Detroit establish the run against a New Orleans squad allowing five yards per carry. The Saints are favored by double-digits, which seems a bit high to me.
Pick: Saints 37, Lions 31
This could end up being a game of whoever has the ball last, wins. That, said New Orleans has been absolutely crushing teams lately, especially at home, and they may be the league’s best team right now. This is the game I’m looking forward to most this weekend, because of all the star power. I just wonder if the Lions will commit to running the football and keeping Drew Brees and co. off the field, or not.
Pick: Saints 34, Lions 24