By Daily Universe staff
A shortened off-season led to a rushed training camp. The preseason hurried along, ushering in a schedule of 17 regular season games. All of it has led up to this moment for eight NFL teams; the first week of the NFL playoffs. We take some time to discuss each of the upcoming games, with a prediction on how the games might turn out.
Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants
Atlanta makes the trip to Metlife Stadium to face the ferocious defensive line of the Giants. The game should be a good one. The Falcons are 4-4 on the road, while the Giants are 4-4 at home. The Falcons have struggled to get their offense synced, while the Giants have had multiple injuries on both sides of the ball. It has the feel of an upset game.
Prediction: 31-17, Atlanta over New York
Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints
This has the potential to be the game of the week. Think of this: Only four quarterbacks in NFL history have passed for more than 5,000 yards in one season. Two of them are in this game, with a third lining up for the New England Patriots. These juggernaut offenses can pile up the yards, meaning that whichever team can manage to force a turnover or get a stop could have an edge. Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has a history of heavy blitzes; if they can get through to Matthew Stafford, Detroit’s quarterback, they will be able to get those extra possessions.
Prediction: 38-21, New Orleans over Detroit
Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans
The third AFC North team to make the playoffs has to travel down to Texas to face Arian Foster and the NFL’s No. 2 rush attack. Houston beat Cincinnati 20-19 on the road four weeks ago thanks to a game-winning drive by rookie T.J. Yates. The young quarterback has gained more experience in recent games, and has been solid executing the game plan. Bengal rookies Andy Dalton and A.J. Green have surpassed expectations this season, leading the team to a wild-card berth. Leading them past the Texans? Unlikely, but for a team that has achieved the unexpected, that’s why they play the game.
Prediction: 27-23, Houston over Cincinnati
Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos
It’s a matchup of last year’s Super Bowl AFC representative against the struggling AFC West champs. Pittsburgh has the upper hand in nearly every category. Quarterback play, defense, points per game, wins: all in favor of the Steelers. Denver has lost three straight games heading into the game, having won a three-way tie to fall into the playoffs. Will Tim Tebow reveal the ability to hit a receiver who isn’t wide open? Pittsburgh and its defense, led by defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and a platoon of hard-hitting linebackers, won’t make it easy for Tebow and his disciples.
Prediction: 21-9, Pittsburgh over Denver