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NFL Wildcard Weekend: Four Game Predictions

January 4th, 2014 at 5:04 AM
By Steve Smith

'NFL logo' photo (c) 2010, Matt McGee - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
The NFL playoffs kick off this weekend with Wild Card weekend.

Let's take a look at some predictions:

TODAY

Kansas City (No. 5 seed) at Indianapolis (no. 4 seed): The Colts defeated the Chiefs, 23-7, in Kansas City on Dec, 22. Revenge day for the Chiefs. The key will be if Indianapolis can contain Jamaal Charles, who led the NFL with 19 touchdowns. That's highly doubtful and look for Kansas City's opportunistic defense to force a couple of turnovers. Here is where the Colts really miss Reggie Wayne. Chiefs 27, Colts 24.

New Orleans (No. 6 seed) at Philadelphia (No. 3 seed): What a fascinating game. Can New Orleans switch gears and play well on the road? How will Philadelphia's Nick Foles perform under the pressure of his first playoff game? The key to this game could be how the Saints control Philly's LeSean McCoy, the league's leading rusher. He has been red-hot of late. The Eagles must contain the awesome Drew Brees to Jimmy Graham connection. How will Brees fare in the cold weather? The Eagles just have too many weapons in this one – look for DeSean Jackson to haul in a long TD pass from Foles. Eagles 34, Saints 27.

SUNDAY

San Diego (No. 6 seed) at Cincinnati (No. 3 seed): The Bengals edged the Bolts, 17-10 in San Diego on Dec. 1. This is San Diego's first postseason appearance since 2009. QB Philip Rivers (4,478 passing yards) is coming off one of his best seasons ever. WR Keenan Allen has been his top target and may be AFC Rookie of the Year. Ryan Matthews will have to run well to give the Bolts some balance because the Bengals have an outstanding defense, led by linebacker Vontaze Burfict (171 tackles). Cincinnati was 8-0 at home and has outstanding weapons in WR A.J. Green and rookie running back Giovani Bernard. The Bengals have reached the playoffs four previous times under Marvin Lewis but have never won. In fact, their last playoff victory was in 1991 against the Houston Oilers. They finally break the skid here. Bengals 28, Chargers 16.

San Francisco (No. 5 seed) at Green Bay (No. 4 seed): The weather is going to be a huge factor here. Game time temperature is expected to be minus 7 with a wind chill of minus 30. Brrrr. Ice Bowl II. The 49ers beat the Packers, 34-28 in the season opener in San Francisco. This is the seventh time these two team have met in the playoffs – the Packers are 4-2. Aaron Rodgers is back at quarterback for the Pack and although he did not look great last week vs. the Bears, he came through in clutch with his game-winning TD pass to Randall Cobb. The Niners, led by NaVorro Bowman, have the better defense here and should have a decent running game in the frigid cold behind Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter. With all the elements, this could be a classic. 49ers 17, Packers 14 (OT).

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Tags: Arizona, Arizona Cardinals, DeSean Jackson, Football, Jamaal Charles, Keenan Allen, LeSean McCoy, NaVorro Bowman, NFL, Nick Foles, Philip Rivers, Reggie Wayne, Ryan Matthews, Vontaze Burfict

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