Saturday Wild Card Preview
‘Tis the season to bask in the benefits of finishing the regular season with the best record in all of football.
The Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers have taken the first round bye in the NFC and home field advantage throughout the playoffs in wire-to-wire fashion. In every preseason poll that mattered, the Packers were ranked No. 1. In every subsequent power ranking the Packers have remained the favorites and were widely recognized as the best team in football. As the Packers take the weekend off to get healthy and watch their potential competition in the Wild Card round, we’ll take a look at these games and try to make sense of them.
Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans (Saturday, 4:30 EST)
It’s the walking sick versus the walking wounded.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has missed practice time this week with the flu, while the Texans roster has been bit by the injury bug the throughout year. Can Houston quarterback T.J. Yates regain the form that saw him march down the field and beat these very same Bengals just a few weeks ago? Can he lead the Texans franchise to its first playoff win? Can Dalton overcome his illness and be effective? Can he lead the Bengals to their first playoff win since 1991?
Who cares? Although this game might be mildly entertaining in that “I love old-time defensive football” sort of way, the winner of this game will be double-digit underdogs when they go on the road the following week. The AFC is so much softer than the NFC, and this game is proof.
Yates will be serviceable off play-action early, running backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate will have big games, and the Bengals will head into an offseason optimistically for the first time in ages. It isn’t yet time for the Bengals to shine, but next year watch out.
Texans 19, Bengals 9
Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints (Saturday, 8:00 EST)
It’s the unprofessionals versus the professionals.
In an attempt to improve their playoff position and avoid playing the dreaded New Orleans Saints, the Detroit Lions played their best players versus the Packers JV team. They failed. Miserably.
Does this young group of immature men really have the swagger and confidence they had earlier in the season after failing to beat the Packers backups? Can coach Jim Schwartz rally his team and give them a feeling that they can beat the team they tried so hard to avoid, even though they just lost to the Packers B-team?
Hahahahahahaha! It feels so good to be a Packers fan.
Drew Brees will do what he’s done all year — throw bombs and win games. The Lions will do what they’ve done all year when challenged — fall apart.
The Saints will come out slinging and get a big lead before the yellow flags begin flying all over the place. I predict there will be multiple Lions ejected and Schwartz will join them in the locker room late in the third quarter.
Saints 56, Lions 23
Andrew Chitko is a Packer fan who enjoys the mental and mathematical side of football just as much as the action and excitement on the field. "Cerebral Football" will focus on key coaching decisions, situational football, and other NFL-related topics deserving deeper analysis.