Now that the wild-card round games are set, let’s take a quick look at what next weekend will bring. SATURDAY, JANUARY 5 AFC: 4:30 PM ET Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans These two teams faced off in last year’s playoffs, and the Bengals would probably prefer to forget that day. Houston beat the daylights out of the Bengals, 31-10, but at this point, it’s easy to see Cincinnati as the team with the momentum advantage. Marvin Lewis’ team ended their regular season with a three-game winning streak, including vital divisional victories over the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. Meanwhile, the Texans went from the one-seed to the third AFC team with their Sunday loss to the Indianapolis Colts, not to mention wins by the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots. Houston has scored one offensive touchdown is its last 11 quarters, and a formerly dominant defense has started to fall apart a bit. The Bengals will counter that offense with a formidable front seven, and their star is defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who is the most intimidating and productive interior lineman in the game today. Of course, the Texans have their own not-so-secret weapon — J.J. Watt, who lines up all over the front, and has been just about unblockable all season. NFC: 8:00 PM ET Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers Didn’t we just see this movie? Yes, we did, when the Vikings beat the Packers at the Metrodome to close out their regular season and bag a playoff appearance. Quarterback Christian Ponder, who has run hot and cold all season, threw three touchdown passes against Green Bay’s inconsistent defense. But the Packers know where Minnesota’s bread is buttered — it all begins and ends with Adrian Peterson, who gained 409 yards on the ground against the Pack in two regular-season games. In addition, the Vikings’ defense has improved, thanks to the efforts of unsung players like Everson Griffen, Harrison Smith, and Antoine Winfield. The Packers present their own set of challenges, especially at Lambeau Field, and especially when Aaron Rodgers is on point. When these two teams met in Green Bay, however, Rodgers completed 27 of 35 passes for 286 yards, but he only managed one touchdown and threw a pick. Atypically, Green Bay gained 152 yards on the ground in that 23-14 win, and Ponder threw two interceptions to keep the Vikings at bay. If Ponder can repeat more recent successes, this game could be a lot closer than people think. SUNDAY, JANUARY 6 AFC: 1:00 PM ET Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens
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Wild-card matchups mix old and new in some intriguing battles (Shutdown Corner)
Running back Adrian Peterson cracked the 2,000 rushing yards on the season while leading the Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs. Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano made a dramatic return from leukemia treatment, guiding his team to a win. Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid and San Diego Chargers coach Norv Turner might have spent their last day on the sideline, and the playoff picture took shape.
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Just Sayin’: A look at NFL’s dramatic final day (The SportsXchange)
Let’s look at some of the big AFC West developments Sunday: The Denver Broncos get top seed: The road to the Super Bowl goes through Denver. This se…
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Much left to do in the AFC West
The NFL has announced that the Denver Broncos will host an AFC divisional playoff game Saturday, Jan 12 at 4:30 p.m. ET. The No. 1-seeded Broncos wil…
Denver playoff game set
In an NFL season full of historic achievements, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had the most remarkable by a player — perhaps ever — by rushing for 2,097 yards within one year of undergoing surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
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Peterson: No record, but maybe best ever anyway (The SportsXchange)
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The Patriots are rolling again, right into a playoff bye.
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Brady’s 2 TD passes lead Pats over Dolphins 28-0 (The Associated Press)
DENVER — The Denver Broncos wrapped up the regular season with a flourish, and they don’t want to stop now.
Broncos blast Chiefs to grab AFC’s No. 1 seed (The SportsXchange)
A look at the playoff teams as they head into the postseason:
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NFL playoff picture (The SportsXchange)
Once again, and for the last time in the 2012 regular season (sad trombone), our friends from NFL.com and the RedZone Channel (as always, the most addictive legal substance on Earth) have presented every single touchdown scored in Sunday’s gameday action. And with 84 scores in this week — even before Sunday night’s go-around between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins — we’ve got the most touchdowns in the four-year history of RedZone. So, get ready for extra time! In this week’s video, there are 47 passing touchdowns, 24 rushing touchdowns, and 10 TDs by way of defense and special teams. You’ll see all five passing touchdowns from Eli Manning in the New York Giants’ 42-7 beatdown of the Philadelphia Eagles, as well as the four TD passes each thrown by Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees … in losses for their teams. You’ll see some very impressive TDs from Eli’s big brother, as the Denver Broncos won their 11th straight game and grabbed the number-one seed in the AFC. You’ll also see the three touchdowns thrown by Christian Ponder of the Minnesota Vikings, who took a surprise road to the playoffs. Seattle’s Russell Wilson threw just one touchdown pass against the St. Louis Rams, but it was good enough to tie Peyton’s rookie record for touchdown passes in a season. On the ground, you’ll see five rushing touchdowns from Carolina Panthers running backs — three from Mike Tolbert, and two from DeAngelo Williams. Stevan Ridley of the New England Patriots was the only other back in the day to carry it in more than once, and his two touchdowns helped the New England Patriots to the AFC’s two-seed. Adrian Peterson grabbed one score in his historic day — he rushed for 199 yards on 34 carries, went over 2,000 yards for the season, and came just nine yards short of Eric Dickerson’s single-season yardage record.
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RedZone Recap: See all 81 touchdowns from Sunday’s gameday action (Shutdown Corner)