Wild Card Round Preview

Saturday, January 3, 2015

NFC: 11-5 (5) Arizona Cardinals @ 7-8-1 (4) Carolina Panthers, 4:35 EST, ESPN

The Cardinals started out the regular season as the team to beat in the NFC, but an injury to quarterback Carson Palmer stalled the season. Entering this game, the Cardinals have lost four games in a six game span.

The Panthers are looking to win their fifth straight game. During their win streak, the Panthers’ defense hasn’t given up more than 19 points in a game.

Prediction: Panthers over Cardinals, 24-20

AFC: 10-6 (6) Baltimore Ravens @ 11-5 (3) Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:15 EST, NBC

The Ravens have had a very up-and-down season, and will need their defense, which ranks 25th in the league in yards per game, to step up if they are going to stop the Steelers’ offense.

The Steelers are riding a four game win streak and have one of the league’s most dangerous offenses. However, they will be playing without running back Le’Veon Bell.

Prediction: Steelers over Ravens, 26-16

Sunday, January 4, 2015

AFC: 10-5-1 (5) Cincinnati Bengals @ 11-5 (4) Indianapolis Colts, 1:05 EST, CBS

Led by running back Jeremy Hill, the Bengals’ run offense is sixth-best in the entire league. Star wide receiver AJ Green could be sidelined with an injury, so heavy carries should be expected for Hill and fellow RB Giovani Bernard.

The Colts are another good AFC team, but were very vulnerable in their Week 16 42-7 loss against the Dallas Cowboys. The Colts offense needs to win time of possession to prevent the Bengals from tearing up their defense.

Prediction: Bengals over Colts, 27-20

NFC: 11-5 (6) Detroit Lions @ 12-4 (3) Dallas Cowboys, 4:40 EST, FOX

The Lions’ explosive offense will air it out against the Cowboys’ pass defense. The tandem of QB Matthew Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson is one of the best in the league.

The Cowboys’ impressive regular season is partially due to their drastically improved offensive line and defense. The Cowboys look very different from years past.

Prediction: Lions over Cowboys, 37-31

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