2012 NFL Playoff Schedule, Predictions and Picks

It’s time to make my 2012 NFL playoff predictions and picks for the Wild Card rounds. Before we get into my picks, let’s first take a look at the opening week NFL playoff schedule.

2012 NFL Playoff Wild Card Schedule
Saturday, January 7, 2012
(AFC) Cincinnati at Houston, 3:30 CST
(NFC) Detroit at New Orleans 7:30 CST
Sunday, January 8, 2012
(NFC) Atlanta at New York Giants, Noon CST
(AFC) Pittsburgh at Denver, 7pm CST

San Francisco, Green Bay(NFC)
Baltimore, New England(AFC)

So who will walk away with wins during the NFL playoff Wild Card games? Let’s start with the Saturday contests.
Cincinnati travels to Houston. The Bengals backed into the playoffs with a loss to Baltimore at home during the final regular season week. Houston also backed in with 3 straight losses but gathered enough wins early to secure a home field game during the Wild Card schedule. Who wins?

My playoff picks and predictions say that the Bengals will walk away with a win. The Texans have been very flat finishing out the regular season and I believe they are primed for an upset(if you can call it that.) My gut feeling is that the Bengals will get a decent performance from Andy Dalton in a 26-20 win. Cedric Benson gets 78 yards and 1 touchdown but the big moment comes when the Bengals defense gets a touchdown in the first half to set the pace for the entire game.

The next game on the NFL playoff schedule is Detroit at New Orleans. The Lions really haven’t played a lot of defense in the second half of the season and I don’t expect that will start against a talented Saints offense. Drew Brees fires 399 yards worth of passing and 4 touchdowns in a 38-23 victory. Matthew Stafford fires 3 touchdown passes of his own but it’s not enough to overcome an incredibly well oiled Saints offense.

The Sunday slate of games might be a bit more interesting. Atlanta is on the road at the New York Giants. The Falcons played flat last year in the playoffs. I think that will change in 2012. Matt Ryan tosses 3 touchdown passes and Atlanta escapes New York with a 27-21 win. Eli Manning struggles with 3 interceptions against a very stingy Atlanta defense. Still, I believe it will be extremely close either way.

The nightcap in the NFL playoff schedule includes Pittsburgh at Denver. I don’t think it matters where this game is played-I fully anticipate the Steelers to win going away 21-13. Tim Tebow plays a bit better than his performance against Kansas City but it’s still not enough. Steelers advance into the next round and they end the Tim Tebow show for the season. Could this be the last start for Tebow? I don’t think so. My feeling is that Denver will find some receivers in the off season and try to somewhat structure their offense around Tebow to give it a chance. Will it work? That’s something that just might be debated the entire offseason.

That’s it for my 2012 NFL playoff predictions and picks for the Wild Card schedule. I’ll be back next week for another round of predictions and picks in the NFL playoff semifinals. Until then, have a wonderful first week of 2012!

NFL Playoff schedule, ESPN

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