Bengals at Texans: The Bengals enter this game with the NFL's longest playoff victory drought: 22 seasons. They enter this game as 4.5 point dogs, but Houston has not looked anything like a playoff team for about a month. The team's drift away from a strong running game has been a problem, and it may continue into this week, as the Bengals will be particularly difficult to move the ball on the ground on. In recent years, teams who have gotten hot entering the playoffs have been the ones to make noise, and the teams who stumble through December have struggled to re-ignite. As such, I'm taking the Bengals in the first upset of the weekend.
Vikings at Packers: Nobody expected the Vikings team that we saw in week 17. Adrian Peterson being a beast was no surprise, but Christian Ponder has as of late looked like a much different player than the one Milkman was ready to have chucked to the curb. It won't be the first time Ponder got hot for a short time, though, and it remains to be seen if he's taking the next step or simply getting hot for a few games. Green Bay's offensive line threatens to sink the team - Aaron Rodgers has been sacked a franchise record 51 times, including 5 times in the game between these teams last week. Still, I see this as a Packers victory.
Colts at Ravens: Talk about another team who hasn't looked like a playoff team in a month - the Ravens lost 4 out of 5 games in December. The switch from Cam Cameron to Jim Caldwell at offensive coordinator has brought little spark, outside of the one explosion against the hot-cold NY Giants. The Colts, meanwhile, have the opposite December record, having won 4 out of 5. Their offense, however, has quietly slipped in production, failing to eclipse 300 yards of offense in 4 straight games, after having only 2 such games in the other 12 weeks. The wins have masked the offensive slump, but look to the Ravens to expose it this week.
Seahawks at Redskins: Oh, heartbreak city! Of the eight wildcard round teams, these are the two I would most want to watch in the next round, yet there can be only one. Washington's defense has tightened up over the course of the season, allowing the team to win some games and reach the postseason. The Shanahan offense, mark RG3, is one of the most fun to watch. I think, however, they may be outmatched by the Seahawks, who have the defense to slow them down, and the offense to strain even the improved Redskins defense. I take the Seahawks, but it gives me no great joy to do so.
Weekly results to be posted later.