By Kevin Adshade
There are a couple of things going on as we enter the first weekend of a New Year: the breaking of resolutions, and the National Football League Playoffs.
It's starting to look like the puck might be dropping on some kind of an NHL season, now that optimism has been renewed around the hockey labour strife (although, things may change from now as this is written to Saturday morning), but whether that happens or not, four weeks of NFL playoffs is a nice treat. It helps football fans get through January, which might be the worst month of all 12.
Cincinnati at Houston
Cincinnati enters the playoffs on a roll, while in contrast, Houston bogged down in December after looking like a team that could challenge for the Super Bowl in the first 12 weeks of the season. The Bungles didn't beat anybody up in November and December, but they beat them all in winning their last seven. The Texans seemed to have lost their edge, and if you lose an edge it can be hard to get it back. I wouldn't think this would be considered a big upset if the... Bengals win, 27-23.
Interesting facts about the City of Cincinnati: Jerry Springer was once the Mayor of Cincinnati. In 1905, the Sons of Daniel Boone was founded in Cincinnati, and it later became the Boy Scouts of America. I bet 'ya Springer would make a sick joke about that.
Minnesota at Green Bay
The Vikings are one of those teams that manage to sneak into the playoffs when nobody's looking. They have a young QB (Christian Ponder) playing his first NFL playoff game – in Green Bay of all places, which can't be easy. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is truly an elite player, and although the Vikings could actually forge an upset (anytime you have a talent the likes of Adrian Peterson, you have a slugger's chance), the Packers don't often lose at Lambeau. It all adds up to... Green Bay winning, 31-20.
Interesting facts about Minnesota: Author Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House series, which inspired Little House on the Prairie) lived on Plum Creek near Walnut Grove. The stapler was invented in Spring Valley (Vancouver RCMP consider staplers to be dangerous weapons).
Indianapolis at Baltimore
How good it must be to be a Colts fan? In Peyton Manning, you get arguably the greatest quarterback of his generation for a dozen years, the Colts tank the 2011 season, toss Manning aside and draft Andrew Luck, who in his rookie season led the Colts into the playoffs. If all goes according to plan, Luck is going to be a great quarterback for a long time. Baltimore on the other hand, looked ordinary in December, just as Houston did, but their home field advantage is a lop-sided one – they've won 15 of the past 17 at home. It is an intimidating place for a visitor to try to win any game at the best of times, let alone a young team trying to win a playoff game. Andrew Luck will win a lot of these before he's done, but not this one. Ravens, 23-13
Interesting facts about the City of Indianapolis: Elvis Presley’s last concert was in Indianapolis at Market Square Arena in 1977 (he died three months later). The 12th largest city in the United States, Indianapolis is the only major city not on a river (see, told you these would be interesting!).
Seattle at Washington:
A lot of people have Seattle as slight favourites, and they do have a solid defence. The Redskins have a dynamic quarterback in Robert Griffin III (he's that RG3 fellow you may have heard of), and the formerly unknown rookie Alfred Morris, a sixth-round afterthought in the 2012 college draft who carved up the Dallas Cowboys last week and ran for more than 1,600 yards and 13 touchdowns during the season. (By the away, does Tony Romo suck at crunch tine, or what? if I were a Cowboys' fan, I'd hate him. How could you not?) The two rookies in Washington should be able to grind up the Seahawks, especially if the weather in Washington is iffy on Sunday night. 'Skins, 26-17
Interesting facts about Seattle: Guitar legend Jimi Hendrix was born in Seattle. Seattle's public library has the highest percentage of card holders per capita of any American city. Seattle also has the highest percentage of residents with college degree or higher.
Kevin Adshade is a sports columnist for The News.