It’s Wild Card Weekend in the NFL, and just because the Bucs are on the outside looking in for another year doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy the postseason as pure football fans. We here at The Pewter Plank took a moment to sit down and talk about what we think will happen this weekend and who will still be standing when the smoke has cleared on Wild Card Weekend.
1. Adrian Peterson has gone ham on the Packers over the last two games he’s played them. Is he in store for another massive game, or will the Packers be able to win despite whatever AP does?
Josh Hill: AP fell nine yards short of what is one of the greatest records of all time. The team that stopped him — and I’m using that term very delicately– was the Green Bay Packers. The history between these two teams goes way back, but Adrian is the new edition here. I think the Packers will let him get his, but he’s designed for cold weather games. You have to pound the rock in January at Lambeau and only one team has a running back and it’s not Green Bay.
Leo Howell: I think he is in store for another crazy game. He has hit his stride as the season has gone on, and has shown no signs of slowing down. I honestly believe the Packers aren’t that much better than the Vikings, and that Peterson will be the element that puts the Vikes over the top. I will predict Peterson will top 200 yards yet again in a Vikings victory. The Packers haven’t had a dominant season, and the Vikings are riding high at the moment.
2. Over in Baltimore, we have one of the finer games of the weekend. From the bad blood history between the Colts and Ravens, to their connection to Chuck Pagano. Can Andrew Luck keep this thrilling ride going, or will the Ravens put a quick end to the feel good Colts?
JH: This is going to be without a doubt one of the most passionate games of the weekend. One the one hand we have Ray Lewis retiring, a Baltimore team trying to stay alive and get one more legit run to the Super Bowl with the legendary defense they’ve had for years. On the other we have Chuck Pagano and his story, and from his connection to the Ravens to his success with Indy and everything in between, we begin to forget the Colts flipped Baltimore the bird when they left in the 80s. I’m buying into the story, Andrew Luck gets it done and the Colts punch their ticket to New England.
LH: I think the news of Ray Lewis retiring is the worst thing that could happen for the Ravens. The Ravens will be looking to play their hearts out for Ray, and the Colts won’t be able to piece together enough to beat Baltimore. The Ravens defense has been susceptible this season, but the Colts aren’t a great running team, and so it will be up to Andrew Luck to beat the Ravens defense on his own, and I feel like there’s enough talent there to keep Luck in check.
3. Houston and Cincinnati met in the Wild Card round last season and it was a coming out party of sorts for J.J. Watt. But the Bengals have stayed a bit more consistent than the Texans this year, which begs the question: are we in store for a massive Wild Card upset in Houston?
JH: If there’s going to be an upset during Wild Card Weekend it’s either happening in Green Bay or it’s happening in Baltimore. Both of these teams are basically the same team they were when they met last season and we all saw how that went. This is probably going to be a snoozer that miss people miss preparing for the better game later Saturday night. Houston knows how hard they fell, and they’re going to let out their aggression on the Bengals.
LH: No. As much vulnerability as the Texans have shown, the Bengals have shown more. Loses to Miami and Cleveland back to back earlier this year showed that the Bengals are capable of “throwing a clunker” as Coach Schiano would say. The Texans have a lot to prove, and are under a ton of pressure, but I think the Bengals are the right kind of team for them to build confidence against. The Bengals aren’t amazing against the run, so the Texans should look to establish the run game and keep A.J. Green off the field.
4. Finally, we have the Redskins and the Seahawks. Both of these teams came out of absolutely nowhere this season and have arrived as forces in the NFC. Which rookie quarterback would you rather be starting a franchise with: Russell Wilson or RGIII?
JH: I’d start it with RGIII. You can argue that because Wilson was a third round pick and RGIII went second overall that the debate ends there, but Wilson more than proved his worth this season. That being said, RGIII learned very quickly how to win in this league and he did in Washington, a place that doesn’t have a lights out defense and has been known for being just awful at football. Wilson would be the next guy I pick if RGIII is off the board, but even with the injury concerns, I’d take RGIII because he’s a clean leader, he’s a damn fine football player and he’s that franchise guy everyone looks for.
LH: For me, it has to be Griffin III. Wilson has potential to be a Drew Brees type of player with some added athleticism, but RGIII is his own type of player, and for him, the sky is the limit. I don’t concern myself with his “injury proneness” because I believe he will learn as he matures and will protect himself better. He has already shown the ability to take care of the ball and stretch a defense vertically, and he also helped make Alfred Morris into one of the NFL’s leading rushers this season. RGIII is a dynamic threat at the quarterback position unlike any we’ve ever seen.
5. We have three rookie quarterbacks in the playoffs this year, but only two can move on to the Divisional Round. Which rookie quarterback(s) will keep their dream season alive, and which one(s) will go home with a valuable lesson?
JH: RGIII is the only guy that goes home this week. Someone’s going to have to be that guy that gets bounced first and I don’t think RGIII can withstand the energy the Seahawks defense is going to throw at him. Luck is riding higher than high with the Colts and even though he’s running into a tank in Baltimore, I believe he holds his own. I’d go as far as to say Luck is the las guy standing and the Colts knock off the Patriots in the Divisional Round. Wilson is going to get eaten alive by a vengeful 49ers club in the next round and revenge will be had. But Luck is special, and he’s going to keep this Chuckstrong story going as long as he can.
LH: Despite everything I just said about RGIII, I think Wilson and his Seahawks are heading into the next round (and beyond, I am very high on Seattle this postseason). I think both Luck and Griffin III go home to debate who is the rookie of the year, while Russell Wilson leads the Seahawks on a playoff run.
6. Alright, let’s etch it in stone: who are the four teams that advance from Wild Card Weekend?
JH: Texans, Packers, Colts and Seahawks.
LH: Texans over the Bengals, Vikings over the Packers, Ravens over the Colts and Seahawks over the Redskins.