Bengals @ TEXANS
The Texans are really hurting at the quarterback position, even more so with an injured Andre Johnson at wide receiver. That leaves the offense to be carried by Arian Foster and Ben Tate. This is a great 1-2 combo that allows for a powerful and effective run game all day. The offense will struggle in the air though, as Tar Heel T.J.Yates will make his first playoff start in his rookie year. The Bengals have great youth talent at quarterback and receiver A.J. Green, but lack in offensive explosion. And this is a team going up against the second best defense in the league. I'll take the Texans at home in this one.
Lions @ SAINTS
Perhaps the highest scoring affair this weekend will be when the Detroit Lions take on the New Orleans Saints, home of this year's BCS National Championship Game on Monday. Drew Brees has had a record year in passing yards and seeks to add to the legend by defeating the dangerous combo of Stafford to Megatron. While the Saints have a slight statistical advantage at offense, I give the Lions the edge at defense. If the silver lioning can get to the quarterback a few times, it will change the Saints from a west coast offense to a pound the football team, something I wouldn't want with Ingram out as your pounding back. The Saints are undefeated at home and have great, super bowl calibur, talent and chemistry. Saints beat the Lions.
Falcons @ GIANTS
A game I'll be watching with my heart racing at every snap. Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons take on Eli Manning and the New York Giants to kick off the second half of wildcard weekend. Tremendous talent on both ends, from Turner and Jones on the Falcons to Cruz and Pierre-Paul. Both teams are capable of scoring multiple touchdowns, and I expect turnovers to decide this one. Manning, who is having a career year, is spreading the ball more and the Giants are splitting snaps between Jacobs and Bradshaw. The Falcons rely on Turner for the most part, but burn blitz's with a Ryan bomb into the endzone. I feel like the Giants have a more complete team, and have more momentum coming in, beating the cross town rival Jets and division rival Cowboys on back-to-back weeks. They're capable of containing Turner and forcing the Falcons to throw the ball, which will lead to multiple sacks in this game for the Giants. Giants win in front of a home crowd.
STEELERS @ Broncos
Probably the most one-sided contest this week, the Steelers take on the team with the worst record to make it to the playoffs, the 8-8 Broncos. Credit to Tim Tebow for leading them into the playoffs with a strong mid-season run, but this team is struggling hard. Week 15 and 16, they gave up 40 points to the Patriots and Broncos. Then in Week 17, with a chance to win the AFC West, they lose a low scoring affair with Tebow looking like a true rookie with a laughable performance. Not the momentum you want coming into the playoffs. And while the Steelers are hurting at both quarterback and running back position, with Mendenhall out for the season and Big Ben battling a bad ankle, the defense will get to the quarterback multiple times. I see this as a complete blowout, advantage Steelers.