Gerry Dulac's NFL Forecast: Wild-Card Weekend
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Last week: 11-5 (.687)
Season record: 160-96 (.625)
Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) at Houston Texans (12-4), 4:30 p.m., Saturday
The Skinny: This is a rematch of last year's wild-card playoff game, won by the Texans, 31-10. But what has happened to the Texans? Once looking like a lock for the No. 1 seed, they have lost three of their past four games. And their offense has struggled to score points. This is the third playoff appearance in the past four years for the Bengals, who have won seven of their past eight games. But they have never won a playoff game under Marvin Lewis (0-3). The have to get ahead and force Matt Schaub, not Arian Foster, to win the game.
Prediction: Texans, 23-20
Indianapolis Colts (11-5) at Baltimore Ravens (10-6), 1 p.m., Sunday
The Skinny: Who has the schematic edge? Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was the Ravens defensive coordinator last season and Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell was the Colts head coach in 2011? The Colts are the feel-good story of the year after Bruce Arians stepped in for the ailing Pagano and led them to nine victories in the final 11 games. They are only the second team in league history to win 11 or more games following a season with two or fewer victories. But they also have 28 players who will be making their first playoff appearance. The Ravens are not exactly on a roll, though. They've lost four of their past five games.
Prediction: Ravens, 20-17
Minnesota Vikings (10-6) at Green Bay Packers (11-5), 8 p.m., Saturday
The Skinny: The Vikings come surging to the postseason, having won their final four games, including last week's victory against the Packers that qualified them for the playoffs. In two games against the Packers this season, Adrian Peterson has rushed for 409 yards and two touchdowns. But this game will be outside, where the Vikings are 0-5 this season. It might not affect Peterson, who averaged 127.8 yards in those games, but it will bother QB Christian Ponder. More than anything, Aaron Rodgers will bother the Vikings.
Prediction: Packers, 34-20
Seattle Seahawks (11-5) at Washington Redskins (10-6), 4:30 p.m., Sunday
The Skinny: This is a matchup of two rookie quarterbacks who rely on two of the top three running backs in the NFC. Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson are the only rookie QBs in NFL history with a 100+ passer rating in the regular season. The Redskins have won seven in a row, the longest current streak in the NFC, after a 3-6 start. The Seahawks have won their past four games by a combined 170-43. But the Seahawks are not the same team on the road, going just 3-5. And Wilson has thrown nine of his 26 TDs and eight of his 10 interceptions on the road.
Prediction: Seahawks, 24-23
First Published January 3, 2013 4:06 pm