NFL Wild Card: Bengals vs. Texans, Vikings vs. Packers

Frank Doyle | Updated Jan 04, 2013

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Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans, Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers

All Aboard the Bengals Bandwagon

It took a while for the Cincinnati Bengals to come around, but they’re surging at the right time of the year. They have won seven of their last eight games, with big wins at San Diego and at Pittsburgh as well as home victories over the Giants and last week’s must-win game against Baltimore. That win against the Ravens was ugly, but proves the Bengals can come out on top in a slugfest. Cincinnati has been here before, too. Last season Andy Dalton threw three interceptions in his first playoff appearance. He says this year is different. “Personally, I’m a lot more confident,” Dalton told reporters. “I’ve experienced it. I know the atmosphere I’m going in to. This team as a whole has gotten better from the experience we have now.”

That’s experience that nine-year veteran Matt Schaub doesn’t have. He has never been to the playoffs and the Texans have lost three of their last four down the stretch. If you think the Bengals can contain Houston’s running game, Cincinnati has a serious shot at an upset here. I’m leaning toward the outright upset. Final score: Cincinnati 24, Houston 21.

The Rematch

The secret to beating the Minnesota Vikings is no secret: Stop Adrian Peterson. That’s obviously easier said than done. Last week he came just nine yards short of breaking the single-season rushing yard record by churning out 199 yards on the ground against these Packers last week. That was in Minnesota. This week he’ll have to put up similar numbers for the Vikings to have a shot at Lambeau – and the Packers know it.

“We aren’t giving up 200 again,” linebacker Clay Matthews told USA Today. “We want to take (Peterson) out of the mix. That’s definitely the game plan. If we can limit those carries and force (quarterback Christian) Ponder to beat us, then that’s the game plan we’re going to play. We need to do a better job of stopping the run, and we will do that.”

The Packers had their pride hurt last week and while their run defence has been a problem all year, they should be able to make at least a few more plays. Christian Ponder isn’t going to have another three-touchdown game in back-to-back contests against the Packers. This one may stay close for a while, but Green Bay will take care of business in the second half. Final score: Green Bay 34, Minnesota 21.

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