The NFL playoffs have finally arrived, and the run to Super Bowl XLIX is wide open.  Despite what the pundits may say, there is no clear-cut favorite to win it all.  In the AFC, The Denver Broncos may have the best defense on the AFC side of of the tournament, but the New England Patriots may be playing the most complete football of all.  Even without Le'Veon Bell, the Pittsburgh Steelers remain a dangerous match-up for any team as long as Ben Roethlisberger is getting the ball into Antonio Brown's hands.

In the NFC, the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, and the Dallas Cowboys are quite possibly the three hottest teams in the NFL.  The Seahawks definitely have what it takes to be the first team to repeat in the last decade.  As long as Aaron Rodgers is playing at home, he and the Packers are fairly unbeatable.  The Cowboys have proven they could go into any opponent's stadium and win.  Let's predict how Wild Card Weekend will turn out:

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers

Very few quarterbacks have a month as good as Cam Newton had in getting the Panthers to a second-straight NFC South division title-- the first time the division has had a repeat champion.  Even after losing most of his receiving corps from a year ago, Newton still led his team into the playoffs-- even if it's with a losing record.  It is absolutely amazing to see what Head Coach Bill Arians has done in Arizona, given that his top two quarterbacks went down with knee injuries.  Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles has made an underachieving defense into one of the most dangerous units in the league.  In the end, it will come down to has a better rushing attack and, right now, that is the Panthers.  Carolina wins 21-17.

Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers

These two bitter rivals have a brutal history against each other.  It is never easy to predict who will come out on top in this match.  In Baltimore, they have Joe Flacco throwing to the Smith duo-- Steve Smith and Torrie Smith-- and handing the ball off to Justin Forsett-- who led the league in rushing yards per carry.  In Pittsburgh, they have Roethlisberger getting the ball to Brown and Markavis Bryant, but will be without the services of Bell-- who was second in the league in rushing yards.  Baltimore, though, still has a better defense (as they have kept it going with younger players).  Ravens win 24-21.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Cincinnati Bengals @ Indianapolis Colts

For a fourth straight season, the Bengals are in the playoffs but still looking for their first playoff victory under Marvin Lewis.  For most of the season it looked like Andrew Luck was about to take the next step and jump over Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, but then he and the Colts took big losses against those two teams.  After their huge loss to Dallas in Week 16, the Colts dropped from potentially being the No. 2 Seed to the fourth seed.  We all know the consistency of Andrew Luck, but no one ever knows which Andy Dalton we'll get on game day.  When he's good, the Bengals are unstoppable; when he's bad, they don't stand a chance.  Until we see otherwise in the playoffs, the Colts win.  Final 28-14.

Detroit Lions @ Dallas Cowboys

Matthew Stafford hasn't had a very good season, compared to other years.  Reggie Bush, Calvin Bush, and Joique Bell had trouble staying healthy.  However, the defense was the best in the league-- mainly because they allowed only 69.6 rushing yards per game.  The Dallas Cowboys have the NFL's leading rusher in DeMarco Murray and one of the elite wide receivers in the league in Dez Bryant.  Tony Romo has never had a better season and the defense-- even after losing several weapons-- was greatly improved after their disastrous 2013.  No team looked better than the Cowboys in December, especially the offense who put up more than 38 points in each of their games.  If the Lions' defense has a weakness, it might be their secondary.  That can mean huge numbers for Bryant, Terrence Williams, Cole Beasley, and Jason Witten in the passing game.  Tony Romo earns his second playoff victory as the Cowboys win 28-17.