Well, thanks to the Chiefs defense not even showing up in the 2nd half, I'm 1-2 so far in my Wildcard picks. On to tomorrow's slate of games!
San Diego Chargers vs. Cincinnati Bengals (10:05 am PT/12:05 pm CT, CBS) - This match up honestly has all the makings of a blowout waiting to happen: On paper, Cincy's stacked with talent, on both sides of the ball. Just the names A.J. Green, Marvin Jones and BenJarvis Green-Ellis scare the crap out of me, going up against what has to be the worst San Diego Secondary I've ever seen plus a mediocre front seven that should be better than how they've played (especially how Defensive Linemen like Corey Liuget & Kendall Reyes had breakout seasons last year, and not lived up to expectations this season). And defensively, Linebacker Vontaze Burfict and Defensive End Michael Jordan are excellent pass rushers. Also, add how the Bengals are a perfect 8-0 at home, how my Chargers basically lucked into the postseason, thanks in part to terrible officiating during the waning seconds of the Kansas City home game, the fact that this team is ranked 3rd in total defense this year, and how the home team hasn't won a postseason game since 1991 & would love to get that monkey off their back, and it should add up to a swift exit for San Diego.
My pick: Chargers (UPSET) - Yes, I'm basing this in blind faith because I am a Charger fan, but also because this Bengals team relies on whether or not QB Andy Dalton will be terrific and throw for 300+ yards, or be the guy who throws interception after interception. He has thrown 33 TD's and over 4200 yards, but he's also thrown 22 interceptions, and can be erratic. Plus, for some reason, the Bolts have played their best when the odds are increasingly against their favor this year. Also: I love the play by Phillip Rivers this season - quick passes, fresh wide outs like rookie Keenan Allen, RB Danny Woodhead and two terrific TE's: the legendary Antonio Gates, and his protege, Ladarius Green. Lastly, RB Ryan Mathews has finally come into his own as a power back, giving this Charger offense more balance. Again, this is just blind faith because it's my team, but I really do feel that San Diego's going to surprise on Sunday.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers (1:40 pm PT/3:40 pm CT, FOX) - Aaron Rodgers came back at the right time for Green Bay. Thanks to some last second heroics in Chicago, the Packers won the NFC North crown at 8-7-1 and are now poised to do damage. Rookie RB Eddie Lacy has been a beast, with over 1100 yards rushing and 10 TD's and WR Jordy Nelson has been terrific as well, with 1300+ receiving yards and 8 TD's. Meanwhile, San Fran's been on a hot streak coming in, winning 6 straight to capture the third playoff berth under Jim Harbaugh. Colin Kapernick, who didn't have quite the season many expected after his breakout year which ended with a trip to last year's Super Bowl game, but nevertheless had a solid sophomore season with 3100+ passing yards and 21 touchdowns, coupled with finally having an elite no.1 wide receiver in in Anquan Boldin, stellar playing by tight end Vernon Davis and running back Frank Gore, and great guys on defense - nose tackle Justin Smith, and pass rushers Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith, and we have a team that's going to be difficult to beat, regardless of venue and weather conditions.
My pick: Niners - This one's almost a no-brainer for me. Rodgers maybe back from injury, but I doubt they'll be able to cool off this team, which really shows little to no signs of slowing down one inch.