Super Bowl XVLII will be held on Sunday, Feb. 3 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, but first things first: kicking off the NFL playoffs with Wild Card Weekend.
Check out the first-round matchups and make your picks in the surveys at the bottom of each page.
Houston Texans v. Cincinnati Bengals
Game details: The 6th seeded Bengals will take on the 3d seeded Texans on Saturday at 4:30 pm. (NBC). The Texans have lost three of their last four games and have been on a steady decline since losing to the Patriots in Week 9. The Bengals have won six of their last eight games and are on a three game winning streak.
They said it: When it comes down to the run game against the Texans, Bengals’ defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer said, “They [Houston] do a great job run blocking. The scheme is great. If we’re undisciplined in the run game, we’re going to get pounded.”
Colts vs. Ravens
Game details: After an impressive comeback win over the Houston Texans, Chuck Pagano and the Indianapolis Colts will go head to head against the Baltimore Ravens Sunday at 1 p.m. (CBS). Pagano was a defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator for the Ravens from 2008 to 2011.
They said it: On playing Baltimore, Pagano said, “Going back to Baltimore, obviously there’s some familiarity there. We had four great years there as a family. It’ a top-notch organization, you know, a really good football club. It’s a great challenge and they have a great team and they have great players all over the place.”
Vikings vs. Packers
Game details: The Minnesota Vikings will play the Green Bay Packers for the second week in a row on Saturday at 8 p.m. (NBC). It'll be the third matchup of the season for the two franchises. In Week 8, the Packers beat the Vikings 23-14, but in their rematch last Sunday, the Vikings defeated the Packers 37-34.
They said it: Green Bay hopes to do everything it can to stop Vikings’ powerhouse running back Adrian Peterson, who surpassed 2,000 yards last weekend. Packers’ linebacker Clay Matthews said the team wants to take Peterson out of the mix. “If we can limit those carries and force [Vikings’ QB 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.”
Redskins vs. Seahawks
Game details: Star rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III and the 10-6 Washington Redskins will play the 11-5 Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. (FOX). RG3 has been on fire, leading the Redskins to a 7-game winning streak heading into the playoffs. The Seahawks are also flying high, winning 7 of their last 8 games.
They said it: Redskins’ head coach Mike Shanahan said a balanced offense is what he’s aiming for during the playoffs. “A lot of teams have been very successful the past five, six years not having a great running game, but usually good enough. It’s always been my philosophy to have a balanced offense. When bad weather occurs, you’re able to have a little more balance.”
Divisional round next
The New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers all have a first-round bye and are seeded in either first or second place for their conferences. These teams will play whichever teams win their first round games. For New Engand, the three possible opponents are the Colts, the Ravens or the Texans.
They said it: Patriots' defensive tackle Vince Wilfork is optimistic about the playoffs for his team. ”Everything rises to another level now," Wilfork said. "If we play our best, we’ll be tough to beat.”
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