I finished the regular season at 172-84 (67%) and that put me in third place against the fourteen ESPN experts. I expect to do just as well in the playoffs. Here are my thoughts for this week.
Bengals @ Texans I like the Bengals. The ESPN Power Rankings state, “The Bengals have allowed an average of 12.8 points over the past eight games, and their defense has scored a touchdown the past three weeks. (Hensley)”, and that is huge. Teams that arrive to the playoffs with a lot of momentum tend to be victorious. The Bengals have also won three in a row and seven of their last eight. The Texans were 11-1 in week 13 and then lost three of their last four games. When you look more closely at their season you’ll see they struggled in all of their last seven games including the four wins. This is not the type of performance I like to see in a team heading into the playoffs.
Vikings @ Green Bay I like the Packers. These teams split there regular season games, both teams winning at home. This home field advantage when playing each other gives the Packers the edge this time around. The Packers have two other advantages. First they have a lot of playoff experience so I fully expect them to play at a very high level. Second, the receiving core is now as healthy as it has been all season which means that Aaron Rogers will probable put on a passing clinic today. Yes, Adrian Peterson is a big concern and he will not be shut down by the Packers. I do, however, believe that the Packers can contain him enough to let Aaron Rodgers’ passing clinic outscore the Vikings.
Colts @ Ravens I like the Colts. They have won two in a row and five of their last six games. That is the kind of momentum I like to see in playoff teams. The Ravens have lost four of their last six games. To be fair, three of the Ravens last four losses were against teams that are now in the playoffs. Only one of the Colts last five wins was against a team now in the playoffs. This says to me that the Ravens are currently unable to beat playoff-quality teams and the Colts currently have a winning mindset. The return of the Ravens’ 13-time Pro Bowler LB Ray Lewis will certainly help the team but I don’t see him as the complete solution to the Ravens’ recent failures.
Seahawks @ Redskins I like the Redskins. This is the most exciting game of the weekend. We’re going to watch two outstanding rookie QBs try to lead their teams to a playoff win. The probability of seeing a rookie QB get to the playoffs is extremely small and now we’re guaranteed to see a rookie QB win his first playoff game. I believe RGIII will be that QB. Both teams enter the playoffs with a ton of momentum. The Redskins have won seven in a row and the Seahawks have won five in a row. The Seahawks are an excellent team and their road game performance is their weakness. They were just 3-5 on the road in the regular season and lost their last two road games. Compare this to the Redskins who are 5-3 at home and have won all of their last five home games. I believe we have to pick the Redskins to win. I predict the Redskins will win 24-20.