This Wild Card Weekend is just that – wild. This weekend boasts of myriad of story lines that are intriguing to say the least.
While the opening games features the first time in NFL history where two rookie quarterbacks will be facing each other head to head, when the Houston Texans play host to the Cincinnati Bengals. Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions head down to the Big Easy to face off with Drew Brees and the Saints in a battle of two 5,000 yard passers.
The NFL had a record 10 quarterbacks who amassed 4,000 yards passing including New York Giants captain Eli Manning and Atlanta Falcons gunslinger Matt Ryan. Those two teams meet up this Sunday.
The league’s most polarizing player Tim Tebow leads his Denver Broncos (who limped into the playoffs) for a meeting with the perennial AFC powerhouse Pittsburgh Steelers.
Houston Texans vs Cincinnati Bengals: TJ Yates isn’t going to need to be Superman in this game, he just needs to continuously hand the ball off to Ben Tate and Adrian Foster. A healthy Andre Johnson helps the passing game tremendously. The Bengals have yet to prove that they can beat a good team this year. Losses to the 49ers, Steelers (twice), Ravens (twice) and the Texans earlier this season prove that. I don’t think the trend is going to stop. Pick: Houston Texans
Denver Broncos vs Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger running around on one leg is still better than Tim Tebow trying to throw with no arm. Although Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller for Denver combined for 21 sacks on the season and should have a field day. However, the Broncos run heavy offense will struggle with the Steelers top rated defensive unit and will force Tim Tebow to throw on the run (not his strong point in the slightest). Experience matters in the playoffs and no team has more than the Steelers. Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers
Atlanta Falcons vs New York Giants: The Falcons have to protect Matt Ryan. The G-Men’s defensive line is deep and relentless and have had quarterbacks running for their lives all season. Ryan has a dangerous receiving core in Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzales, but that won’t mean a thing if they don’t have enough time to make plays. Michael Turnerhttps://leblogjames.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php?post_type=post has been in a slump and will need to produce in order against a struggling Giants run D to set up Atlanta’s passing game. On the other side, Eli Manning won’t be able to rely solely on Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. The Falcons secondary is on watch knowing that Eli will have to throw the ball plenty in order to score points. Pick: Atlanta Falcons (much to my chagrin)
New Orleans Saints vs Detroit Lions: Both teams come into this game with high octane offenses. Drew Brees (who broke the NFL’s single season passing record) and Matthew Stafford combined to throw for over 10,500 yards. This game is poised to be a track meet with both offense having the potential to score in bunches. The Lions defensive front will need to put pressure on Drew Brees and prevent him from dropping back 40-50 times or they will be playing catch up on the road in a very hostile environment. However, experience is once again paramount in the NFL and the Saints may just be unbeatable in the Superdome. Pick: New Orleans Saints.