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CBS Local talent and sportscasters from across the country are giving you their insight on this week’s Wild Card Weekend matchups. Catch the picks from each of our experts to see who will be the victor in these games: Cincinnati at Houston, Pittsburgh at Denver, Detroit at New Orleans & Atlanta at New York Giants. Let us know your picks and the final scores in the comment section below!
Scott Zolak | CBS Local Sports Boston
Bengals 24, Texans 13
This is probably the “Pig of the Weekend” of the four games. TJ Yates is obviously playing for Houston, which is why I see Cincinnati winning this game. Houston is pretty good on defense; I just think Cincinnati just has too many weapons. They’re excited to be in it and they’ll be up for this game. Houston has always been that sexy pick, but again too many injuries for them. Cincy advances as the six-seed and they’ll head to New England for that prime time matchup next Saturday.
Saints 34, Lions 24
This is probably one of the most intriguing games of the weekend. Detroit has played well all year long, but they’re running into a buzz saw; I think New Orleans may be the hottest team in the NFL at this point. That’s not to say they’re going to roll over the Lions. This will likely be a shootout, but how can you not go with the Saints at home on a Saturday night down in the Bayou.
Giants 23, Falcons 17
I like the Giants in this one. Atlanta does not travel well, and is a dome team heading for the elements of Northeast. There is supposedly some winter mix heading to New York, which favors the Giants. I think New York is a more physically tough team, and Eli Manning has played tremendous football all year long. He has a lot of fourth quarter comebacks, and I think the Giants have too much talent to lose this game.
Steelers 86, Broncos 3
In the game everyone is talking about (that will not live up to the luster) I think Pittsburgh goes in and annihilates Denver regardless of who their quarterback is. I know Roethlisberger is 50-50, but even with Charlie Batch, the Steelers should roll. Their linebackers will absolutely destroy the Denver running attack alongside their fantastic quarterback Tim Tebow, forcing it into a one dimensional game of which Tebow, for the fourth straight week, will be exposed. Pittsburgh will win it going away.
Joe Benigno | CBS Local Sports New York
Texans 20, Bengals 17
Houston has lost their last three games since clinching the AFC South and obviously a banged up team starting third string QB TJ Yates. Also, Andre Johnson has been slowed by injuries all season. Give the Bengals credit….Marvin Lewis is the coach of the year and rookies Andy Dalton and AJ Green have been great but look for Arian foster and Ben Tate to carry the Texans offense and Houston’s D to slow down the Dalton-Green combo. Texans win their first ever playoff game in a nail biter.
Saints 42, Lions 30
Detroit has had a renaissance season making the playoffs for the first time since 1999. But the Saints, with Drew Brees leading the way may be the best offense we’ve ever seen, setting records all over the place. The Lions will score points but not enough to beat the Saints offensive juggernaut.
Giants 28, Falcons 21
Atlanta is loaded with offensive weapons: Michael Turner, Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzales but Matt Ryan must prove he can win in the playoffs. The Giants are finally getting healthy on the defensive line and Eli Manning and company can match the Falcons offensively. Big Blue pass rush is the difference here as the Giants should win their first home playoff game in 11 years.
Steelers 31, Broncos 3
Bloom has come off the Tim Tebow rose as the Broncos back into the AFC West title losing their last three games. Really just can’t see the Broncos offense doing anything against the Steelers defense. Look for a host of Tebow turnovers in Pittsburgh blowout.
Rich Lord | CBS Local Sports Houston
Texans 24, Bengals 17
I think the return of Andre Johnson along with the continued improvement of rookie quarterback T. J. Yates will mean a boost in production for a beleaguered Houston offense. I also believe that a once-dominant Texans’ defense will return to form with an effort that features multiple takeaways. The crowd at Reliant Stadium will also be a factor versus the Bengals’ rookie quarterback.
Lions 27, Saints 26
I think the Lions have great motivation in this game to pull off the biggest upset of the first weekend of the playoffs; they are looking to avenge a defeat in the Superdome just a few weeks ago, their outstanding quarterback, Matthew Stafford, threw for over 5,000 yards this season yet was snubbed when it came to Pro Bowl voting, they have perhaps the best wide receiver in football today in Calvin Johnson and one of the nastiest front sevens in football, bolstered by the return of tackle Ndamukong Suh who missed the first meeting while serving a league suspension.
Giants 28, Falcons 21
I think experience makes all the difference in this one; the Giants still have a team loaded with players who won a Super Bowl just a few years ago and a bonafide MVP candidate at quarterback in Eli Manning. New York also has an aggressive, ball-hawking defense that I think will cause lots of problems for Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan.
Steelers 24, Broncos 10
The clock strikes midnight in this one for the Cinderella story that is Broncos’ quarterback Tim Tebow. This is a playoff-tested Steelers’ defense looking to defend it’s AFC Championship and I think they will physically punish Tebow to the point that he may not make it through the entire game. I have respect for the Denver defense, but the Steelers have impressive playmakers with great speed at the skill positions that should make the plays that make the difference in this one.
Dennis Fithian | CBS Local Sports Detroit
Texans 26, Bengals 20
Houston came from nine down in Cinci in December with TJ Yates at quarterback and with Andre Johnson sidelined with a knee injury. The Texans clinched a playoff spot with that win, but went on to lose their last three games. Bengals lost last week to the Ravens and needed losses by the Jets and Broncos to get in. Neither team is going to get much farther in the post season after this one. Home field advantage and a bunch of field goals wins it for Houston.
Saints 38, Lions 31
Detroit could have avoided this matchup with the hottest team in the league with a win over the Green Bay Backups. Now the Lions face a buzz saw in Drew Brees at the Superdome where the Saints haven’t lost all year. Saints are averaging 42 points at home this year and beat the Lions in early December 31-17. Detroit will have two key players available this time around: safety Louis Delmas and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Lions have the offensive firepower to stay with the Saints, but will have to stop Brees who is the master at finding mismatches on the other side of the ball. Lions’ fate was determined when they lost to the MVP’s backup last week. They will keep it within single digits, but the likely MVP runner up Brees will be too much.
Falcons 30, Giants 28
Have to wonder which Giants team shows up on Sunday? The one who pounded the Cowboys to get into the post season, or the G-Men squad which played their worst game of the year just two weeks earlier at home against the Redskins. Osi Umenyiora coming back from injury could be the difference for the Giants. Umenyiora, along with Jason Pierre-Paul have the look, up front, that has New York in better position than their regular season defensive numbers might suggest. Still Matt Ryan has good balance being able to go to Michael Turner on the ground or Roddy White and Julio Jones through the air. A little bit more offense from the visitors will be the difference.
Steelers 17, Broncos 10
A banged up Steelers team won’t have running back Rashard Mendenhall or saftey Ryan Clark, but they will have a banged up Ben Roethlisberger. An experienced quarterback plus the top ranked Steelers defense present huge problems for a struggling Broncos team, which backed into the post season. Points will be very difficult to come by for both teams. Denver finds pay dirt once, which should keep them within single digits in Mile High.
Brett Jensen | CBS Local Sports Charlotte
Cincinnati 20, Houston 13
There’s very little reason to believe a third-string QB in Yates or a washed up QB in Delhomme can make the play when they need to. The Bengals get their first playoff win in a long, long time. Bengals win 20-13.
New Orleans 34, Detroit 28
Should be a great game! The Saints are playing great and are at home. They lost in the first round last year, but don’t look for that to happen again. New Orleans wins 34-28.
New York 24, Atlanta 17
Weather will play an important role in this game. Can the Falcons run the ball if it’s bad weather? I don’t think so. Giants win 24-17.
Pittsburgh 27, Denver 10
Even without their starting RB, the Steelers defense will confuse and destroy Tebow. Don’t be surprised if his passing is like last week’s 6-for-20 performance. Steelers win easy 27-10.