The zany, yet thrilling NFL regular season has finally come to a close and all of our questions have been answered. Well…at least as far as the playoff picture is concerned. With the wildcard round coming up this week, we’ll have plenty more questions day by day as the postseason inches closer, but for now let’s take a look back at this weekend, how we got to where we are, and what we can expect from next week’s games at first glance.
Vikings, Bears and Giants All Win, Vikes Clinch Wild Card
Each of the three teams left in the NFC wild card race took care of business on their own ends, but with the tiebreaker in their back pocket, the Vikings were the only team that controlled their own destiny.
The Bears held on against the Lions 26-24 and the Giants destroyed the Eagles 42-7, but the Vikings pulled off an impressive 37-34 win over the Green Bay Packers to clinch the sixth seed in the NFC and secure a rematch with the Pack for next week; this time at Lambeau Field.
The Vikings have proven they can win all season long, even with a one dimensional offense, but any visitor is at a huge disadvantage when they travel to Lambeau to face Green Bay, especially in the playoffs when its freezing cold. It’s not that I don’t doubt the Vikings, it’s that the Packers are too consistent to slip up in a big game like this. Expect Green Bay to bounce back and advance past Minnesota next week.
Redskins Clinch East with Win Over Cowboys
The NFC East and the conference’s fourth seed came down to one game between Dallas and Washington. After winning at Dallas on Thanksgiving Day, the Redskins were the favorite and they didn’t disappoint, coming up in the clutch and winning over the Boys again 28-18.
Robert Griffin III and the powerful, balanced offensive attack of Washington should pose a big challenge to the Seattle Seahawks, which will have to travel out to D.C. as the fifth seed in the NFC. Both teams will be red-hot coming into the game. Washington is riding a seven-game win streak, while Seattle has won its last five. Both teams play a similar game, but Seattle is not quite the same team away from home, so I like Washington in what should be a close and very entertaining first round game.
Texans Fall Out of First Round Bye with Loss to Colts
We all knew that the Patriots and Broncos would likely take care of things on their ends, putting pressure on the Texans to win in order to clinch a first round bye in the AFC. Houston had a tough opponent to deal with in Indianapolis and it couldn’t come through on the road, losing to the Colts 28-16. The loss dropped the Texans to the three seed, forcing them to play an extra game to get to the Super Bowl. After losing three out of their last four, the Texans suddenly do not look as strong as they once did and with a date with the Bengals, which are playing well, this week, nothing is for sure. I think Houston will win this one, since it is at home, but unless it figures things out on offense, expect a second round defeat on the Texans’ horizon.