Sunday NFL Wild Card Round Preview
Halfway thru Wild Card Weekend
Cincinnati Bengals (10-5-1) at Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
The Bengals playoff drought is almost as old as their starting quarterback Andy Dalton. The last time Cincinnati won a playoff game was January 6th, 1991, when Dalton was three years old. Since then the Bengals missed the playoffs 14 consecutive seasons, and are 0-5 since 2005 in the postseason. Marvin Lewis is the second longest tenured NFL head coach behind Bill Belichick.
This season they head into the playoffs without stud wide receiver AJ Green who will miss the game with a plethora of injuries, a running back by committee, and a defense that has been shredded by good quarterbacks, including a 27-0 loss to Andrew Luck and the Colts in October.
Meanwhile, the Colts ran thru a weak AFC South, and aside from a befuddling 42-7 loss at Dallas in Week 16, does not have a bad loss on their resume. Despite virtually no consistent running game – outside the recent emergence of Boom Herron – and an offensive line that has been very shaky, Andrew Luck has been phenomenal this season.
A healthy Reggie Wayne, the continued development of T.Y. Hilton, and solid contributions from Coby Fleener have combined for 17 touchdowns and almost 2900 yards.
The Colts defense on the other hand has been mediocre at best, finishing 18th versus the run. If the Bengals are going to win they HAVE to stay committed to the running game and limit Daltons forced mistakes.
Prediction: This will be the best game of the weekend. Down to the wire and a lot of points scored. More pressure on Indianapolis to win here considering this game is at home, but they do not succumb to it and the misery for the Bengals continues. Colts win at the gun 42-40
Detroit Lions (11-5) at Dallas Cowboys (12-4)
The Lions were one win away from winning the NFC North, hosting a playoff game and potentially earning a first round bye. After being dispatched by a banged up Aaron Rodgers, the Lions now have the task of facing a red-hot Cowboys team that has avoided every potential pitfall that has foiled their efforts in seemingly every year in the Romo era.
The emergence of Golden Tate an Joique Bell have been welcome additions to Matt Stafford as a weapon other than Calvin Johnson. The health of Tony Romo, a run game committed to DeMarco Murray, and the growth both on and off the field of Dez Bryant have the Cowboys in a place they hadn’t seen since the Clinton administration.
Defense is going to be the key to this game. Detroit obviously has the better of the two, however the Cowboys clearly have the more explosive offense. Crazy to think that I could trust anyone in a playoff game less than Romo, but that’s what we have in Stafford.
If Dallas loses this one, Jerry Jones may blow up the whole thing and start over.
Prediction: Dallas races out to a fast start gaining a double digit lead and maintains it throughout. Dallas 41-20