Predicting Sunday's NFL wild-card games

January 6, 2013, 9:30 am
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Predictions are like opinions -- everyone's got 'em. And with the NFL's second season continuing Sunday -- we were two-for-two on Saturday -- it's time to share a few. As such, here's how today's wild card-round playoff games should go down…

No. 5 Indianapolis Colts (11-5) at No. 4 Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
CBS, 10 a.m. PT
It's being billed as an emotional showdown as the Colts continue to ride the emotion of coach Chuck Pagano's return from leukemia treatment and the Ravens playing their final home playoff game with linebacker Ray Lewis, who has announced his retirement at season's end. And yet…the most intriguing storyline just might be how the longtime Baltimore football fans deal with their conflicted emotions with the Colts returning to their ancestral home. What about the members of the old Baltimore Colts Marching Band, who weep for them? Do they secretly root for a team that abandoned them in the night almost 29 years ago, or do they maintain the relatively recent allegiance to the team that did the same to Cleveland and won a Super Bowl in Baltimore? Either way, the Ravens staggered to the finish, losing four of their final five games. Their defense is not the fearsome unit it once was, though Baltimore is a different team at home, going 6-2 at M&T Bank Stadium. The Colts, though, have experienced a resurgence with a new quarterback in Andrew Luck, who passed for an NFL rookie record 4,374 yards, and an old receiver in Reggie Wayne, who caught 106 passes. The Colts' magic seems stronger.
The prediction: Colts 17, Ravens 13

No. 5 Seattle Seahawks (11-5) at No. 4 Washington (10-6)
Fox, 1:30 p.m. PT
It's all about rookie quarterbacks in this NFC first-round game, Seattle's Russell Wilson, a modern-day Fran Tarkenton, squaring off against Washington's Robert Griffin III, who seems to be a more polished Michael Vick and has essentially led Washington to seven straight wins despite coach Mike Shanahan basically giving up on the season when Washington was 3-6. Still, RG III is not the same explosive player he was before spraining his right knee against Baltimore on Dec. 9 and sitting out the next week against Cleveland. But the Seahawks, who have won seven of their last eight, have to account for his potential to run. Paging hard-hitting cornerback Richard Sherman, whose four-game PED suspension was overturned, much to the chagrin of Washington defensive tackle Kedric Golston, who called Sherman "a cheater," per USA Today. Yeah, things figure to get chippy at FedEx FIeld. The Seahawks, with a surging Wilson under center, won their five December games by an average score 39-12. And yet, history beckons -- the last time the Seahawks won a road playoff game? Try Dec. 31, 1983, when Seattle upended another high-flying rookie in Miami -- Dan Marino. Look for history to repeats itself in the nation's capital.
The prediction: Seahawks 30, Washington 26