The NFL Playoffs kick off this weekend with the "Wild Card" round games.
The NFC will see the Green Bay Packers hosting the Minnesota Vikings, a team that beat them last Sunday to qualify for the playoffs. The other NFC tilt will feature the Seattle Seahawks facing the Washington Redskins.
Following is a brief breakdown for each game along with the Heftyinfo predictions for the entire playoffs.
Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) at Houston Texans (12-4) - The Texans have been slumping the past few weeks while the Bengals have been hot, winning seven of their last eight games to make the playoffs after a 3-5 start to the season.
The Bengals have a solid defense and recorded 51 quarterback sacks this season while Houston's strong defense is led by J.J. Watt, who led the NFL with 20.5 sacks.
Cincinnati relies on the tandem of QB Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green to ignite the passing game while Houston has a nice balance with running back Arian Foster (15 TD) and QB Matt Schaub throwing to WR Andre Johnson and tight end Owen Daniels.
PICK - Houston
Minnesota Vikings (10-6) at Green Bay Packers (11-5) - The Vikings just beat the Packers last weekend in Minnesota to make it to the post-season. The Packers blew a chance to get a "bye" in the playoffs and will likely be on the road the rest of the way as they try to get back to the Super Bowl.
Running back Adrian Peterson leads the Vikings offense and just missed breaking the single season rushing record of 2,105 yards as he gained 2,097 yards this season.
Green Bay has QB Aaron Rodgers and a plethora of wide receivers leading their attack and will challenge the Vikings defense.
On defense, the edge is with Minnesota as the Packers are vulnerable stopping the run, in particular stopping AP as he ran for 210 yards and then 199 last week in the two regular season games between these teams.
Another factor is the kicking game where the Vikings have record setting rookie kicker Blair Walsh, who nailed ten field goals beyond 50 yards this year. Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby struggled this season, accumulating the most missed field goal attempts in the league.
PICK - Green Bay
Indianapolis Colts (11-5) at Baltimore Ravens (10-6) - The last time these two teams met in playoffs in Baltimore was six years ago, when QB Peyton Manning was leading the Colts to a Super Bowl title run.
This year's Colts team features rookie QB Andrew Luck and his two favorite wideouts, rookie T.Y. Hilton and veteran Reggie Wayne.
The Ravens are led by running back Ray Rice and QB Joe Flacco, who had 22 TD passes and threw just ten interceptions this season.
The Colts defense can get after the opposing quarterbacks, led by veterans Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney. The Ravens have several All-Pros on their defense, including veteran linebacker Ray Lewis, who announced he is retiring effective the end of the Ravens season. Safety Ed Reed is always a factor for opposing teams to worry about.
PICK - Baltimore
Seattle Seahawks (11-5) at Washington Redskins (10-6) - A lot has gone right for the Seahawks this year, including the emergence of rookie QB Russell Wilson, who can run and pass just like his opponent this weekend, RG3, who is also known as Robert Griffin, III.
These two rookie signal callers (along with Indy's Andrew Luck) have turned the NFL upside down by leading their teams to the playoffs.
Washington led the entire league in rushing with Alfred Morris (another rookie) going for over 1,600 yards while the 'Hawks counter with veteran Marshawn Lynch, who seems to get better the more he carries the ball as the game goes along.
Both teams play solid defense, but Seattle has been more steady all year long in this area. Their ball hawking style on defense rates better than the Redskins, who can be torched in the secondary on occasion.
PICK - Seattle
The Heftyinfo Playoff predictions
AFC Wild Card Round - Texans over Bengals, Ravens over Colts
NFC Wild Card Round - Packers over Vikings, Seahawks over Redskins
AFC Divisional Round - Broncos over Ravens, Patriots over Texans
NFC Divisional Round - Falcons over Seahawks, 49ers over Packers
AFC Championship - New England Patriots over Denver Broncos
NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers over Atlanta Falcons
SUPER BOWL 47 - New England Patriots over San Francisco 49ers
Last Week's Record: 13-3
FINAL SEASON RECORD: 160-95-1