Weekend full of rematches, personal battles
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It's very rare that Wild Card weekend in the NFL has this many storylines, but this one has a lot.
In the AFC, you have Cincinnati and Houston facing each other in the playoff's opening round for the second straight season. The Texans won last season, 31-10, but the Bengals are slightly improved and will be looking for revenge. Meanwhile, the Colts return to Baltimore to face the Ravens, who will not only try to advance, but also try to keep Ray Lewis' career going at least one more week.
In the NFC, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson will battle it out with the Offensive Rookie of the Year title potentially at stake, while the Vikings visit the Packers for the rubber game of their season series after the two teams split in the regular season.
Add in Chuckstrong and Andrew Luck looking to build on his legend in Indy, and there's lots to keep an NFL fan interested this weekend.
Wild Card Picks
Cincinnati at Houston, 5:30 p.m., NBC
This playoff rematch from last season should go pretty much the same way as it did last season, but just a little better for the Texans. Houston has been playing bad football for the last month, but I expect them to wake up for this home tilt and advance to the divisional round.
Minnesota at Green Bay, 9 p.m., NBC
The Packers have a problem stopping Adrian Peterson, that much we know. But do they have a problem stopping Christian Ponder? I don't think so. The Packers may have lost last week's matchup in Minnesota, but they won the previous matchup in Green Bay comfortably despite allowing more than 200 yards to Peterson. And when it comes to the playoffs, home-field advantage is huge, and there's no better home-field advantage than Lambeau Field in January.
Indianapolis at Baltimore, 2 p.m., CBS
Colts coach Chuck Pagano's story has been inspirational not only to his team, but also to the entire league. But with the announcement that this is Ray Lewis' last season, and that he will be returning in this game from a near-season-ending injury, the team and the entire city of Baltimore will be fired up. Add in the history of the Colts leaving Baltimore almost 30 years ago, and Indy will be playing in its most hostile environment this year.
Lewis has always been an inspirational figure in Baltimore, if this is his last game, you can best believe the Ravens will play at their very best.
Seattle at Washington, 5:30 p.m., FOX
This game is a tough call, and the Vegas odds agree with me being that the Seahawks are only a one-point favorite in this game. Both teams have rookie QBs, great run defenses and have been on long winning streaks, so this is undoubtedly the best game this weekend. This matchup should come down to who makes the fewest mistakes and which defense plays better pass defense. Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson rarely throw INTs, but the Seahawks play better pass defense, so by default. I'll go with them.
- Last Week: 12-4; Overall record: 142-85-1
- Kemp Callwood is The V.I. Daily News sports editor. His column appears weekly throughout the NFL season.