How Will Wild Card Weekend End?

The 2011-2012 NFL Playoffs kick off in a few hours, getting us started with Wild card weekend. The Houston Texans will play their first ever postseason game, but too many problems at QB and over reliance on Arian Foster will make life very hard against Andrew Dalton and the Bengals.

New Orleans will host a shootout with two quarterbacks who have thrown for over 5000 yards this season, the Giants will try and keep the momentum going at home against the hard to predict Atlanta Falcons while Pittsburgh, despite all their injuries, have too many tools for the Denver Broncos and Tim Tebow to handle.

Cincinnati Bengals vs Houston Texans @ Reliant Stadium

Numbers say – Houston have the second best defense in the NFL, one of three teams that allowed less than 300 yards per game in the 2011 season. The key for the Bengals will be to stop the run, which has gone pretty well for them this season, allowing 104.7 yards per game. The Texans are second in the NFL with 153 yards on the ground per game. Arian Foster ran for 1224 yards this season, but was limited to only 41 yards on 15 carries during the Texans’ win over Cincy a month ago.

Gut Feeling – Bengals. They have the edge in the quarterback battle (Dalton is good enough), home advantage doesn’t really mean anything for both teams, and they can stop the run, which is crucial to the Texans’ success.

Detroit Lions vs New Orleans Saints @ Superdome

Numbers Say – Best offensive team in the NFL (Saints) against the 5th best. The Saints got 467.1 yards of offense a game this season, 334.2 in the air. The Lions were one of the worst running teams in the league with only 95 yards on the ground. Both teams’ defense doesn’t really stop the aerial game, but the Lions were third in the NFC after creating 34 turnovers this season, 21 of them interceptions.

Gut Feeling – Saints. Two pass happy offenses, and I’d pick only the Brady and Rodgers to beat Brees in a playoff shootout out of the quarterbacks in these playoffs.

Atlanta Falcons vs New York Giants @ MetLife Stadium

Numbers say – Falcons haven’t beaten the Giants since November 2004, losing the last three meetings. Offenses are pretty similar, but the Giants created only 89.2 yards on the ground this season. On the other side, the Falcons rely heavily on Michael Turner’s ability to create yards. Ran for 1340 yards this season, and the Falcons don’t lose when he goes off for over 100.

Gut Feeling – Despite the Giants entering the playoffs as the hottest team in the NFL, they haven’t been successful stopping the run this season. Falcons will get through.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Denver Broncos @ Mile High

Numbers Say – Steelers have the best defense in the NFL, allowing only 271.8 yards per game. The Broncos struggle on both ends, ranked 30th in the NFL with only 152.1 offensive yards per game. Tim Tebow may like getting outside of the pocket, but the Steelers can keep him there, like the last two games for the Broncos this season.

Gut feeling – Steelers. Big Ben may be injured, but Denver just aren’t a good enough football team to deserve a spot in the next round. Having a quarterback who can’t throw from the pocket is one thing, but without a game changing defense chances look slim.