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NFL Wild Card Weekend Preview

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Check in here at Battle Red Blog for the information on this weekend's NFL Wild Card playoff games.

...missed it by THAT much.  Next year!
...missed it by THAT much. Next year!
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

SATURDAY, JANUARY 3, 2015

NFC: Arizona (11-5) v. Carolina (7-8-1)

3:30 p.m. (CST) on ESPN

The Cardinals travel to Charlotte to take on Cam Newton and the Panthers.  Arizona has struggled with quarterback injuries this season, and the latest reports confirm that they will start Ryan Lindley in this playoff game. He has Larry Fitzgerald as a weapon, although rumors suggest this may be the last year in Arizona for the future Hall of Fame receiver.

The Cardinals will have to get past the NFL's leading tackler in Luke Kuechly, who ended the regular season with 153 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 interception and 11 passes defended.

The Panthers represent the best of the NFL's worst division with their losing record, and are ridiculously honored by hosting a playoff game.  This is a perfect example of why the NFL should reorder the playoff seeds once the division winners and wild card teams are confirmed.  A team with a losing record should not be hosting an 11-5 team in my opinion.

NFL.com shows the following stat comparison:

AFC: Baltimore (10-6) v. Pittsburgh (11-5)

7:15 p.m. (CST) on NBC

The Steelers host the Ravens for this Saturday night showdown.  The AFC North was tightly contested all through the regular season, and three teams made the playoffs after finishing within one game of each other.  The Browns were in the four-team race in the division as well, but fell from grace with a five-game losing streak to end the season 7-9.

Ben Roethlisberger leads the NFL with 4,952 passing yards (tied with Drew Brees), and Antonio Brown leads the NFL with 1,698 receiving yards.  Le'Veon Bell finished second in the NFL in rushing with 1,361 yards for the regular season.  Unfortunately for the Steelers, Bell is ruled out...


Can Gary Kubiak outsmart Dick LeBeau?  Will Mike Tomlin and the Terrible Towel waving fans in Pittsburgh be too much for John Harbaugh and his Ravens?  We'll see.

NFL.com shows the following stat comparison:

SUNDAY, JANUARY 4, 2015

AFC: Cincinnati (10-5-1) v. Indianapolis (11-5)

12 p.m. (CST) on CBS

Andy Dalton and the Bengals compete in a Wild Card game for the fourth consecutive year, but can they finally win and make it to the divisional round?  They haven't won a playoff game since 1991, and are looking for the running tandem of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard to take the pressure off of Andy Dalton.  They may need to, because Dalton may be without WR A.J. Green..


Andrew Luck has an NFL best 43 touchdowns and is the league leader with 42 passes of 25 yards or more.  Luck's 12,957 passing yards are the most in history through a three season span.  He has a healthy T.Y. Hilton and Dwayne Allen in the passing game, but the offensive line has been banged up late in the season.  They also have not had any help from Trent Richardson or Ahmad Bradshaw in the running game, as they enter with the lowest rushing yards per game of any AFC team in the playoffs.

NFL.com shows the following stat comparison:

NFC: Detroit (11-5) v. Dallas (12-4)

3:30 p.m. (CST) on FOX

DeMarco Murray holds the 2014 NFL rushing title with a staggering 1,845 yards in the regular season.  Can Tony Romo exercise the demons of his past and lead the Cowboys to victory against Detroit's stifling defense?

The Lions are ranked second in the league in total yards allowed per game, and they are ranked number one in the NFL with a run-defense that has only allowed 69.3 yards per game through the regular season.  FS Glover Quin leads the NFL with 7 interceptions this season (/waves fist at Rick Smith), while OLB DeAndre Levy is ranked second in the league for tackles with 151 this year.

Can Matt Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate outscore Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray?  This should be a great NFC battle to watch.

NFL.com shows the following stat comparison:

*****

There's your preview of the NFL Wild Card games!  Enjoy the weekend everyone.