Welcome in to your CSC Wild Card Saturday Open Discussion Thread! I'm glad you stopped by, and I hope you enjoy your time here today.
I'll be popping in and out this afternoon and evening with my own brand of HansDat commentary, but first, let's review the lineup of games on the menu...
AFC Wild Card Game # 1: Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans (4:30 pm Eastern Time)
Let me tell you 'Watt' to 'wattch' for in this high-'watt'age game that should see 'watt'-ermelon, 'watt'-er, and orange slices served for the halftime snack in the Bengals' locker room by their team mom. 'Nuff said about that. I hope you got the hint, but if you didn't, just smack yourself with a fly s-watt-er.
These teams seem to be headed in opposite directions. The 10-6 Bengals have gone 7-1 in the second half of the season, with the lone loss being a one-point December defeat at the hands of the *mighty* Dallas Cowboys. On the other hand, the 12-4 Texans have stumbled a bit in the final quarter of the season, dropping three of four games (albeit to playoff-bound teams) after their 11-1 start.
Our man on the scene in Houston, Ralph Malbrough, called it how he sees it in this week's 'Forecast' column on wwltv.com (HansDat sidenote: Ralph, I've read your column for a while, even before hooking up with CSC (and even when it was "Held Over" for a while), and I'm very curious...have any editors or producers ever tried to get the title of the column changed to "Fourcast"?):
The Texans are in a complete collapse and the city where I live is looking forward to this game as much as a dentist appointment. The Texans need a really good start so their own fans don't turn on them. They won't get it.
HansDat is going in the opposite direction, using completely irrational "finish means nothing" logic for my pick in this one - the Bengals aren't as good as their 7-1 finish, and the Texans aren't as bad as their 1-3 finish. But both teams will stumble to the finish of this one, with Houston stumbling out with a win in a close howler for both teams, 20-17.
NFC Wild Card Game # 1: Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers (8:00 pm Eastern Time)
A re-do of their regular season finale, only in a different location. Last week, with a first-round bye for Green Bay and the NFL season rushing record for Adrian Peterson and a playoff berth for Minnesota all on the line in the game, the Packers and Purple Jesus failed to seal their deals while the Vikings clinched a playoff berth in the 37-34 Minnesota win, so they have been doomed to repeat their struggle just 6 days later.
I'm taking the 'bounce-back' and 'regression to the mean' theoretical path in this one: Ponder regresses to the mean and has a more Ponder-ific day (50% completion with one TD, one INT) than he had last week (57% 3 TD, 0 INTs), and Adrian Peterson's decent rushing day won't amount to enough to win this time. By the end, the teams will put up right about their average scoring rate in the season, and the Packers move on, 27-24.
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If you get here prior to kickoff let us know who you want to win, who you think will win, and any other thoughts you have on today's games or anything else on your mind.
You can also talk about your gear, food and drink plans, too, as if today's a regular game day.
I've got my Sir Saint shirt and Saints NFC Champs hat on, and will enjoy a Coke zero, a Bell's Winter Ale, and either a ham and cheese calzone or chicken tikka naan sandwich during the games today, and maybe even a small bowl of soup later in the evening, if I get the hungries after sundown.