Sports Opinion & Analysis

Wild Card Round Team Preview: Birds, Big Cats, Meat Packers, & Twinkies

In NFL on January 3, 2013 at 10:57 am

by Chris Carosi

There were some surprises at the conclusion of this NFL year, and the match-ups for this weekend’s games are quite interesting. Some are familiar (Houston/Cincy, Green Bay/Minnesota), and others are brand new (Washington/Seattle, Baltimore/Indy).

The AFC is very top heavy right now. The best two teams (Denver and New England) are unquestionably set up to meet in the championship game. It’s almost too good to be true. By that I mean it totally sucks.

In the NFC, your guess is as good as mine. The 49ers stealing home-field at the last minute is HUGE for them, and might work out to be the difference between another NFC title game in San Francisco or another disappointment for them. I know I know, every game is difficult and all bets are off and blah blah. I’m pretty sure the Niners can beat anybody on their home field.

The most important thing to think about during this time of year is that it will be fun and beer still exists. Let’s break down all 8 teams, shall we?

The Wonder Dog: Houston Texans (AFC 3rd Seed, vs. CIN)

Houston is in a very strange position right now. Fresh off two loses to lesser teams and yet solidly poised to face the white-hot Cincinnati Bengals. If they win that game, they head right into New England to face the team that completely destroyed them in Week 14. Not easy. Houston screwed up their home field chances, that’s true. Overlooking Minnesota at Reliant Stadium was really bad for morale; but, they are my only hope to make sure Denver or New England do not make it all the way.

Super Bowl hopes: War of Attrition

The Cancer Is Not Funny Card: Indianapolis Colts (AFC 5th Seed, @ BAL)

Indy is an amazing story because they are fueled by pure love. At this point, their offense is carrying the load and that is not good for their playoff hopes. They are playing an absolutely miserable Baltimore team that has limped half-dead, bleeding, and asleep into their division title. The Colts offense is very good (almost too good) and their Defense is meh. Baltimore’s play is akin to what it sounds like when you squish a warm Twinkie in your fist. I’m not saying it, but I’m just saying…

Super Bowl hopes: Shot Down Somewhere Over Denver

Rejected tagline: “A horseshoe is just a heart that fits a horse’s foot.”

The Ginger: Cincinnati Bengals (AFC 6th Seed, @ HOU)

Another kind of amazing story. I have slept on Cincinnati all year and they have made me pay dearly. I will continue to sleep on them. Their success had a lot to do with their solid defense, which ranks in the top ten in nearly every defensive category and smart play by Dalton and company. No one is afraid of Cincinnati, and that’s precisely why they are dangerous. As soon as someone takes them seriously, they are beaten.

Super Bowl hopes: Freckled at best

The Walking Dead: Baltimore Ravens (AFC 4th Seed, vs. IND)

Baltimore has the opportunity to fail up. Given their miserable second half–squandering home field and getting snake bit by their inferior division rival–their fourth division title feels like a medal for participation. They did however earn a completely winnable game against the Colts in the First Round. They have the tools to beat New England in the second round, but would be smoked off the turf by Jesus Christ–whoops, I meant Peyton Manning–whoops, I meant the Denver Broncos. Baltimore has the leadership they need in the form of Ray Lewis coming back and announcing his retirement as well as others who are rested. But maybe that’s unnecessary pressure? Wait a minute, I’ve already picked the Colts to win.

Super Bowl hopes: Nevermore

This is a picture of Joe Flacco taking the field.

The Sexy Girl: Seattle Seahawks (NFC 5th Seed, @ WSH)

Seattle is the team that everybody at your work is like, “Hey, watch out for Seattle, man.” I don’t blame them. They dominate on home field, have stunning defense and a fun, spastic offense lead by “2 Short” Russell Wilson. They murdered a vulnerable 49ers team two weeks ago in the midst of a 5-0 run that saw their offense averaging 39 points a game. Their only weakness is playing away from Qwest Field, where they had all 5 of their loses. Seeing as they MUST win three away games to get in (unless they meet the Vikings in the NFC title game), it’s going to be tough. Maybe next year.

Super Bowl hopes: Skinny Dipping in the Pugent Sound in Winter

The 4 x 4: Minnesota Vikings (NFC 6th Seed, @ GB)

Minnesota’s formula is very simple and obvious but very effective: “We will run the ball. Try to stop it.” I don’t think they are this way by choice, but that’s the way the year turned out. Once Adrian Peterson was seriously predicting he’d break the single-season rushing record, it was all hands on deck. They won four games in a row to close out the regular season with hard-fought victories against Houston and Green Bay. They get Green Bay back again at Lambeau, which is not good. The last time they met in the playoffs at Lambeau, Randy Moss was fake-rubbing his naked rear end on the goal post and the Vikings earned an upset. Can’t imagine Christian Ponder completing more than 10 passes.

Super Bowl hopes: Of course not

This was like punching a baby on live TV to the NFL. Loved it.

The Wonder Dog II: Green Bay Packers (NFC 3rd Seed, vs. MIN)

What the Packers lost at the beginning of the year they usurped by sheer will by its conclusion: leap-frogging Chicago and fending off Minnesota for their second consecutive NFC North title. They are certainly poised for another run, even given the extensive and exhausting list of injured for Saturday’s game. Their defense is not getting a rest against the Minnesota run game, but they have the tools to win anyway. A win means they play the 49ers, which would be awesome for me as far as entertainment. If they get past SF, they go all the way.

Super Bowl hopes: Realistic

The Last Man Standing: Washington Redskins (NFC 4th Seed, vs. SEA)

After surviving the Mexican stand-off that is the NFC East, Washington comes out of the dust with a home playoff game and a good chance of advancing. Their offense has proven to be elastic as well as scrappy, rotating TWO rookie quarterbacks and winning huge games. They are not exceptionally balanced on offense with a fantastic running game (this is a Mike Shanahan-coached team we’re talking about here) and a so-so passing attack with chances for random brilliance. Their defense will be tested by Seattle as they are imbalanced as well (30th against the pass, 5th against the run). A win will likely get them a date with Atlanta, which will be hugely entertaining but not a likely win.

Super Bowl hopes: Wounded Knee

“I have two glass eyes. Go Redskins.”

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