Wild Card Round
Everyone who’s expecting a high-scoring affair will not be disappointed. The Saints are 8-0 at home this season. Drew Brees has thrown for 2,624 yards and 29 touchdowns (to six interceptions) at a 72.0 % completion rate at the Superdome. Oh yeah, and the Saints have scored 41.1 points per game there this year. Needless to say, there’s something special brewing in the Bayou … Sorry, Lions. You’ve had a nice run but the roar ends here. Saints win, 37-27.
For wide receivers in the NFC, there’s Megatron (Detroit Pro Bowler Calvin Johnson) and there’s … Victor Cruz?! Johnson is having a mammoth year for the Lions, but guess who’s not far behind. Cruz, an undrafted rookie out of Massachusetts, caught 82 passes for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns this season. Only Johnson yielded a higher yardage total than Cruz. Also, only Johnson had more 40-plus yard receptions (10) than Cruz (9). Lined up opposite Hakeem Nicks (76 receptions, 1,192 rec yards and 7 TDs), Eli Manning’s new favorite weapon has made New York a premiere passing offense … Atlanta has a nice passing attack of it’s own – QB Matt Ryan (4,177 pass yards, 29 TDs), WRs Roddy White (100 recs, 8 TDs) and Julio Jones (959 rec yards, 8 TDs), as well as a fine running back (Michael Turner – 1,340 rush yards, 11 TDs). But the Giants pass rush, featuring Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck, will provide New York the advantage in this one. Giants win, 27-24.
Wild Card Round
steel over BRONCOS
A hobbled Ben Roethlisberger is better than a healthy Tim Tebow. And having the league’s top defense in both points (14.2 ppg) and yards (271.8 ypg) allowed doesn’t hurt Pittsburgh’s chances as well. Roethlisberger manages to throw for 200 yards and a touchdown. But it’s back-up running back Issac Redman who takes the leading role in this game … Denver’s only shot in this game is if Tebow stays pick-free and keeps the game close down the stretch. Neither one happens. The Steelers D picks Tebow twice and Redman paces Pittsburgh’s offense with career highs in carries and yardage. Steelers win, 24-6.
It’s an exciting time for the players and fans of both these teams. Houston makes its first playoff appearance, ever. Cincinnati rebounds from a 4-12 season to make it to the postseason for only its third time since 1990. Both teams have stout defenses. Both have decent offenses with rookie quarterbacks. But Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton is better than Houston’s T.J. Yates. … On defense, the Bengals shutdown Yates and contain Houston’s dynamic running duo of Arian Foster and Ben Tate. On offense, Dalton works his chemistry with Bengals rookie WR A.J. Green, connecting with him for a clutch fourth-quarter touchdown to give his team the edge. Bengals win, 20-17.