The AFC playoffs start on Saturday with the Bengals traveling to Houston to take on the Texans. In the other match-up, the Ravens will host the Colts in Baltimore on Sunday. Who is a sure bet to win this weekend?
Houston Looks To Repeat Against Cincinnati
The Texans are looking to defeat the Bengals for the second year in a row in the wild card game. Last season, the Texans took care of Cincinnati 31-10 thanks largely to big games from Andre Johnson and Arian Foster. Defensive end J.J. Watt had an interception return for a touchdown as well.
Houston will have an upgrade at quarterback for the game on Saturday. Last season, rookie T.J. Yates was the quarterback due to injuries suffered by Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart. This upgrade at quarterback should allow the Texans to be even more dangerous through the air. Expect Andre Johnson to eclipse 100 yards receiving in this game. Arian Foster should go above 100 yards in this game as well.
While the Bengals defeated the Steelers and Ravens to finish the season, neither was playing particularly well. It is also troubling to see the Bengals lose to teams such as Miami and Cleveland earlier in the year. Losing to bad teams is a sign that they have trouble staying consistent enough to win any given game.
Although Cincinnati went 6-2 on the road during the regular season, it is unlikely that they will be able to win road game number seven. Cincinnati will give the Texans a run for their money, but the Texans should be able to win this game at home.
Baltimore Should Take Care Of Indianapolis
The Baltimore Ravens are playing at home in front of a raucous crowd. If you watched the Sunday game earlier in the season between the Ravens and Patriots, you will understand how emotional the fans can get there. With that being said, the Ravens have an offense that is perfectly built to win playoff games.
Running back Ray Rice should see a lot of carries in this game. While the coaching staff in Baltimore has been criticized for not using Rice more, he has played well in previous playoff appearances. He has the ability to run the ball 20 times or more in a game and gain 100 yards from scrimmage.
The wild card in this game for the Ravens will be quarterback Joe Flacco. When he is on top of his game, he can be among the best quarterbacks in the league. He rarely makes mistakes and can throw the ball down the field as well as any quarterback in the league. However, he looks like a guy who doesn’t belong in the NFL when he is struggling.
Indianapolis will have to take care of the ball on offense as well. Andrew Luck threw for almost as many interceptions as he did touchdowns this year. That will not help the Colts win against a tough Baltimore defense. It will be up to running back Vick Ballard to take some pressure off of Luck on Sunday.
Overall, the Ravens have a clear edge when it comes to winning this game. They have the better defense, better running game and are playing at home. That should be enough to get them past the Colts in the wild card round.
Houston and Baltimore are the favorites to advance to the divisional round. If these results were to come true, the Ravens would travel to Denver to take on the Broncos while the Texans would go to New England to play the Patriots.
This is a guest post submitted by Don Phan. Don currently writes sports content for blogs part-time and is with Fanatics Inc. full-time as a marketing associate. Fanatics is a leading retailer of NFL merchandise and is a premier source for officially licensed J.J. Watt jerseys.