NFL predictions: Wild-card weekend
Two of the best weekends in sport are about to arrive. The NFL’s wild-card round this weekend and the conference semifinals next weekend. Two games Saturday, two games Sunday. It’s a tournament that never fails to deliver. Let’s get to the predictions.
Bengals at Texans, 3:30 p.m. Saturday, NBC: Cincinnati 23-20. Houston seemed a lock for the No. 1 seed and the homefield advantage that goes with it. Then the Texans lost three of four, none of them closer than 12 points, and even with a victory here, Houston would have to go to New England next week. It’s a dramatic collapse that could have huge ramifications on the future of coach Gary Kubiak and quarterback Matt Schaub. Neither will lose their job, but both could be in for a jeopardy-filled 2013 with an early exit. Meanwhile, Cincinnati has been excellent down the stretch, winning seven of eight with a stiff defense. Marvin Lewis is proving to be quite the coach.
Vikings at Packers, 7 p.m. Saturday, NBC: Green Bay 34-23. Christian Ponder played the game of his life last Sunday against Green Bay, completing 16 of 28 passes for 234 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. And Adrian Peterson capped a season for the ages by running like the Wild Horse of the Osage. Maybe Peterson can duplicate his 199-yard day — maybe, schmaybe, he absolutely can — but can Ponder duplicate that game? The guy from Greater Dallas (Colleyville Heritage), Florida State and the toasty Metrodome now gets to go play at Lambeau Field. With Ponder and Peterson playing like that, the Vikings won 37-34 over Green Bay. I see no way they can stay with the Packers this time. Aaron Rodgers will be what Aaron Rodgers always is. Fantastic.
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