The Chik’s NFL Picks – Wild Card Weekend January 5, 2013  |  The Football Chik

Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans – Just like last year’s playoffs, Cincy travels to Houston and plays on Saturday…and that’s about where the comparisons end. Last year the Bengals had a rookie QB at the helm and seemed happy to sneak in. This year they’ve won 7 of their last 8, with the defense giving up more than 17 points only once during that stretch (their one loss was to Dallas, 20-19). On the other side, Houston is struggling. Last year, T.J. Yates was under center during this game. Now it’s Matt Schaub. At this moment, I’m not sure who Texans fans would prefer. For all of those reasons, Cincy is the trendy upset pick this week – and that’s exactly why I’m taking Houston. If too many people are saying it, they’re bound to jinx it. Plus, I still believe in what the Texans did from week 1 through 13 and I’m sure they do too. If a little of the “now we’re the underdog” mentality creeps in, even better. Extra motivation never hurts. Remember when the Saints went 13-0 a few years ago, only to finish 13-3 and limp into the playoffs? Yup…me too. I also remember them winning the Super Bowl 4 weeks later. I’m not going that far yet, but the lesson learned from the Saints is to judge the whole year, not just games 14, 15 and 16.  Houston, 31 – Cincinnati, 20


Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers – Another rematch in game 2, but this one is a little more recent (as in 6 days ago). The Vikings pulled off a nice win at home last week, with the key word being “home”. The crowd was sparked by the win and you’re in situation, plus the obvious emotion that went into Peterson chasing the record. None of these things will be on Minnesota’s side Saturday. Rodgers is too good and Lambeau is too tough. Even if Peterson puts up his 2012 average against the Packers (204.5 yards – yikes!), it won’t be enough. Plus, I’m sticking with my “never bet on Christian Ponder in his first playoff game and oh by the way it’s at Lambeau” theory.  Green Bay, 31 – Minnesota, 10


Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens – The Colts are clearly the best story of the season: Chuckstrong, Andrew Luck, 2-14. It’s been fun to track and emotional to watch. Not to mention, they just played their best game of the season in week 17. Conversely, the Ravens have been an enigma. They were lackluster in December, the defense isn’t what it used to be, Flacco has been wacko, and it took a 4th and 29 conversion to keep them from going 1-5 since Thanksgiving. However, every stat says the Colts just aren’t that good. Most of their wins came against not-so-great teams by 7 points or less. They were minus-12 in takeaway differential and Luck is still a rookie who had the same amount of INT’s as Mark Sanchez (18). Add in the Ray Lewis farewell tour and the Ravens may have an edge. Clearly I’m back and forth here, so I’m going with what would be the most fun – a head coach battling back from leukemia, leading his overachieving team and budding superstar quarterback to a win over the aging bad guys…culminating in said team traveling to Denver to play the conference #1 seed (who is now led by the franchises all-time greatest player).  Indianapolis, 28 – Ravens, 25


Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins – On paper this is the best game of the bunch. Face of the Franchise Rookie Quarterback vs. Face of the Franchise Rookie Quarterback. In almost every way these teams are similar – the aforementioned rookie QB who makes plays with his arm and feet, powerful running games, strong against the run. There is, however, one key difference and it very well may swing the game: pass defense. Seattle is 6th in the league, Washington is 30th. If you go by that ranking, this simply gives Russell Wilson and Seattle more opportunities to make plays. RGIII will have less. Plus, if RGIII is still 75% and not 100% (like he clearly was against Dallas) it’ll be that much harder. Hopefully they save the best game for last.  Seattle, 17 – Washington, 13

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