By: Dan Leach
Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) at Houston Texans (12-4) 4:30 PM EST (Houston -4.5)
This is going to be a very interesting game as Houston, my preseason Super Bowl pick, just needed one win in their last two games to clinch the overall number one in the AFC and couldn’t get it done. Now they have to open on Wildcard Weekend against a Bengals team that is playing its best football of the year and has won seven of its last eight games coming in.
I still believe that Houston is the most complete team in the AFC and has all the tools to make a run at the title. With the game-changing ability of Arian Foster, the steady play of Matt “Stump The” Schaub, and the turn-back-the-clock season for Andre Johnson, the Texans offense can take over a game. The defense, led by the incomparable J.J Watt is what I believe can be the difference for Houston. The Bengals have weapons that can break down the best of D’s, but when Houston is playing its best they make you very uncomfortable to stay with the offensive plan you came in with.
Prediction (Based on a 1-10 Bagels and Locks Scale)
7.4 Bagels on the Texans -4.5 – The Bengals will definitely come to play and are playing well enough to go on the road and beat a Texans team that has definitely taken a step back over the past month. I believe though that Houston will be refocused and ready to make a franchise changing run in the postseason. They will use losing the bye to their advantage and come out from snap one with a chip on their shoulder and extreme intensity. Look for a huge day out of A Foster and for the defense to cause a key turnover that changes the game.
Houston 31 Cincinnati 21
Minnesota Vikings (10-6) at Green Bay Packers (11-5) 8 pm EST (Green Bay -8)
In late November Vikings fans could only have dreamed of this matchup as they had lost two in a row to NFC Norris mates Chicago and Green Bay and their playoff hopes were fading. Since then the Vikes have won four in a row , Adrian Peterson came nine yards shy of the NFL single season rushing record, and Christian “Ponder the Question” has gone from liability to confident leader.
The Pack had won four in a row until the loss to the Vikings last Sunday and have been scoring points in bunches. It is rare for teams to play two weeks in a row in the NFL and even more rare for a team to lose twice in a row in that scenario, but with the way the Vikings are playing right now it would not be shocking at all. Weather can be a factor at Lambeau in January, especially at night when this game is played, but other than it being very cold the conditions should not be too nasty which is good news for the Vikes.
8.6 Bagels on the Vikings +8 – This is going to be a knock-out-drag-down type of game and could go to the final possession. The key for Minnesota will be if A.P can continue his dominance on the ground against the Pack (409 yards in two games), and whether Christian Ponder can manage the game and not cost his team with turnovers. I think it is going to be tough for the Vikes to slow down A-Rod and the high powered Green Bay offense, but think they will be in it till the end and would not be shocked at all if they pulled off the outright upset on a frosty night in Green Bay.
Green Bay 28 Minnesota 27
Dan Leach was in charge of designing this year’s Waterford Crystal ball that was dropped in Times Square, was considered instrumental in the Fiscal Cliff deal getting done, and just returned from cycling on top of the Great Wall of China in the fastest time in recorded history.