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NFL Playoffs: Wild Card Picks and Predictions

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A look at this weekend's NFL playoff games.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Cincy Jungle gives you its weekly picks, Wild Card Weekend edition. I present my predictions for all four games today and tomorrow.

Cardinals @ Panthers

Yes, a 7-8-1 team is in the playoffs. And yes, I think they win today. The Panthers are arguably the hottest team entering the postseason, coming off a 34-3 shellacking of the Atlanta Falcons, who, at the time, were also vying for the NFC South division. Carolina's defense is playing very solid football, and Cam Newton has the offense rolling on all four cylinders. This team could very well turn into the Giants or Ravens teams that we've seen take the postseason by storm in recent years. Panthers win, 20-17.

Ravens @ Steelers

This will be a fun matchup to watch, as AFC grudge matches typically prove to be. However, this is a tale of two cities. The Ravens limped into the playoffs, needing a San Diego loss to back in. They haven't been playing great football lately, and the secondary is one of a few glaring weaknesses. On the other hand, Ben Roethlisberger has the Steelers playing hot, especially coming off of wins against the Chiefs and Bengals to close out the season. Even without Bell, I expect Pittsburgh to have their way with Baltimore at home, via the pass attack by an ever-dangerous Big Ben. Steelers win, 27-20.

Bengals @ Colts:

As given in the separate playoff prediction for the Sunday afternoon game, look for the Bengals to notch their first playoff game in a very long time. With no O-line and no effective running game to work with, the Colts offense will be extremely one-dimensional. Andrew Luck is a star quarterback in the making, but he will be forced to throw 35-40+ times this game, which gives Paul Guenther and an opportunistic defense the opportunity to potentially cause a turnover or two to turn the tides of the contest. Bengals win, 23-21.

Lions @ Cowboys

This is a tough matchup to predict, as both teams have their very different strong suits. The Lions have a potent passing attack with a fantastic defense. The Cowboys have what is perhaps the best true running back in the NFL right now, behind a stellar offensive line. The difference in this game for me is Tony Romo. The Dallas signal-caller has had a great December, and with that in mind, this Cowboys offense is more three-dimensional that they've been in past seasons. The Lions have enough weapons, but I'll take the hot team. Cowboys win, 23-20.