Wildcard Sunday preview
Saturday, Carolina best Arizona 27–16. While I felt Carolina would win, I also felt the game would be closer. The inexperience of Arizona's quarterback showed as he only completed 16 of 28 passes for 82 yards and also threw two interceptions. The Arizona special teams also struggled as they basically set Carolina up for 14 easy points. Sunday’s games promise to be just as entertaining and it would not be a shock if both visiting teams win.
Cincinnati at Indianapolis (-4)
This game should be interesting. The Colts finished 11-5, but only had four wins against teams with winning records, and all five of their losses were against teams with winning records. They have a potent passing attack led by the game's next true franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck, but their running game is average at best. The Colts only averaged 100 yards per game on the ground this year.
This game is very important to the Bengals. Quarterback Andy Dalton, while improving, has done nothing in the playoffs. He was given a big extension this year, but his play during the season was inconsistent. He will be without his best receiver for this game as late Saturday afternoon, it was announced the A.J. Green would not be playing. When Green is in the lineup, it takes the pressure off and opens things up for the other Bengal receivers. Without him, it is much easier to defend the Bengals. Still, they have a very good ground game with rookie Jeremy Hill and second-year man Giovanni Bernard gaining 1800 yards between them. Bernard is dangerous as he is also an excellent receiver.
The key to this game will be pressuring the opposing team’s quarterback. During the regular season, Cincinnati recorded only 20 sacks, while the Colts more than doubled that number with 41.
Had Green been healthy and been able to play, I would have taken the points, but with Green out and Cincinnati being so inconsistent, I have to go with the Cots, give the 4 points.
Detroit (+7) at Dallas
The whole complexion of this game changes mid-week, when Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh had his one game suspension lifted and will be allowed to play. Without Suh, I don’t think Detroit had a chance.
Dallas will be missing a key defensive lineman as defensive tackle Henry Melton is out. Melton is the Cowboys best inside pass rusher. This game has some interesting matchups. Detroit has a dominant defensive line, while the Cowboys have the best offensive line in football. The Cowboys also have a great running back in DeMarco Murray who ran for over 1800 yards this year. Murray is now two weeks removed form hand surgery, and that could cause him problems with ball security. Murray has been known to cough up the ball.
This game also has two of the best and most physical wide receivers in the game. Detroit has Calvin Johnson who has been slowed by injuries much of the year but is still very dangerous. Dallas has Dez Bryant who is also big and physical and is a big play waiting to happen. Both quarterbacks have great talent but haven’t been able to win the big games, so this game is very important to both. Matthew Stafford has rare natural talent but both in college and the NFL has not been able to win the big games. The same pretty much holds true for Dallas’ Tony Romo.
Dallas finished the season at 12-4, but all four losses came at home. That could be the key. While I feel Dallas will win this game, I don’t think they cover the 7 point spread. Take the points.
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