Bengals at Texans
Bengals at Texans
Time: 1:30 p.m. PST today (NBC).
Line: Texans by 41/2.
About the Bengals (10-6): Have earned back-to-back playoff berths for first time since 1981-82. Last playoff win was against Houston in January 1991. A.J. Green had 1,350 receiving yards and tied for fourth in NFL with 11 TD receptions. Defense ranked third in sacks with 51 and third in AFC overall, allowing 319.7 ypg. BenJarvus Green-Ellis seventh in AFC with 1,094 rush yards. QB Andy Dalton is 19-13 as a starter.
About the Texans (12-4): Won last year's wild-card matchup against same Bengals 31-10. And that was with T.J. Yates filling in at quarterback for Houston. Lost three of last four to fall from No. 1 seed to No. 3. Matt Schaub had one TD pass and three INTs in those four. DE J.J. Watt led NFL with 20.5 sacks, two shy of league record. Andre Johnson led AFC with career-high 1,598 receiving yards but had only four TDs. Arian Foster was second in AFC with 1,424 rushing yards, 15 TDs.
Prediction: Bengals, 20-17. Cincy improved enough this season, particularly on defense, to be up to the challenge against fading Texans.
Vikings at Packers
Time: 5 p.m. PST today (NBC).
Line: Packers by 71/2.
About the Vikings (10-6): Adrian Peterson has rushed for at least 175 yards four times against the Packers, including both meetings this season (210 and 199). Reached playoffs by beating Packers 37-34 last week. Finished the season with four straight wins after 6-6 start. Christian Ponder has no INTs in last three games. TE Kyle Rudolph led team with nine TD catches.
About the Packers (11-5): Have won five of last six vs. Vikings. In last five vs. Vikes, Aaron Rodgers has 16 TDs vs. one INT and has completed 74.7 percent of his passes for 132.5 rating. Safety Charles Woodson expected back after nine-game absence (collarbone). Team's .630 postseason win percentage (29-17) best in NFL. WR James Jones led NFL with career-high 14 receiving TDs.
Prediction: Packers, 27-17. Memories of last year's home collapse vs. New York Giants are too fresh for Rodgers to let it happen again.
Colts At Ravens
Time: 10 a.m. PST Sunday (CBS).
Line: Ravens by 61/2.
About the Colts (11-5): Have won six of last seven meetings. Coach Chuck Pagano was Ravens' D-coordinator in 2011 and was secondary coach for three seasons before that. Colts ended regular season hot, winning nine of last 11. Andrew Luck passed for most yards by a rookie (4,374) and had seven game-winning drives in fourth quarter, most by any QB since 1970. WR Reggie Wayne fifth in NFL with 83 postseason receptions.
About the Ravens (10-6): In playoffs for fifth straight year. LB Ray Lewis expected to return for playoffs before retiring. Joe Flacco first QB to start a postseason game in each of his first five seasons in Super Bowl era. RB Ray Rice reached 1,600 scrimmage yards (1,621) for fourth straight season. LB Terrell Suggs tied for seventh all-time with 10 postseason sacks. Kick returner Jacoby Jones led NFL with 30.7 average.
Prediction: Ravens, 27-21. Luck has more than held his own under the bright lights so far, but winning on the road in the playoffs is a bit too much to ask.
Seahawks at Redskins
Time: 1:30 p.m. PST Sunday (Fox).
Line: Seahawks by 3.
About the Seahawks (11-5): Have won five in a row, outscoring opponents 193-60, and finished 8-0 at home. (But they were only 3-5 on road). Russell Wilson tied Peyton Manning's record for TD passes by a rookie with 26. Wilson's 115.2 rating in December was best in NFL. Marshawn Lynch was third in NFL with 1,590 rush yards. Have won first playoff game in each of last four postseason appearances.
About the Redskins (10-6): Won last seven to earn first NFC East title (and home playoff game) since 1999. Robert Griffin III set rookie record with 102.4 passer rating while completing 65.6 percent of his passes. Alfred Morris rushed for team-record 1,613 yards, third most by rookie in NFL history. Pierre Garcon has 21 catches for 329 yards (109.7 average) in three playoff games. LB London Fletcher has five INTs, a career high at age 37.
Prediction: Seahawks, 21-17. Matchup of rookie phenom QBs make this most intriguing matchup of the weekend, but Seahawks' D is too good even for RGIII's magic.