The Detroit Lions seek their first playoff win since Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” ruled the pop charts and Steven Spielberg’s Hook reigned at the box office. Andrew Luck looks for the Colts to beat the Cincinnati Bengals to set up a dramatic showdown in Denver with the quarterback he replaced in Indianapolis. Let’s break down Sunday’s NFL playoff action….
Cincinnati Bengals (10-5-1) at Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
The Bengals enter this game with major issues at wide receiver. Star wide-out A.J. Green is out with a concussion. Two other receivers will also be sidelined as well – Dane Sanzenbacher (concussion) and James Wright (knee). Also, starting tight end Jermaine Gresham is banged-up.
So, they probably aren’t equipped to win a shootout with Colts QB Andrew Luck. It would behoove the Bengals to run the ball well in this game, to avoid a score-fest, and keep Luck off the field, especially since Cincinnati has one of the worst pass rushes in the league.
Cincinnati should be able to run the ball with red-hot rookie Jeremy Hill, who finished the season over 100 yards rushing in three straight games. He is a big back (6-1, 233) with very quick feet. Hill can make you miss and run you over.
On the other hand, it’s going to be hard for the Colts to run. Both their starting right guard and right tackle are out with injuries.
These teams met in the regular season, and the Colts prevailed 27-0. The score likely won’t be that lopsided, but with the Bengals’ best player, Green, sidelined, and their substandard pass rush, expect the Colts to find a way to win this game at home.
Detroit Lions (11-5) at Dallas Cowboys (12-4)
The Cowboys offense is on a roll. In the last four games, Dallas has scored 41, 38, 42, and 44 points.
The Lions offense was sluggish down the stretch. So, if this game turns into a shootout, it will probably be tough for the Lions to keep up.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo played on a very high level in December, completing 75 percent of his passes, and throwing 12 touchdowns to just one interception.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is from Dallas, needs to step up his game. He’s been okay, but Detroit needs a little more from him, especially against Romo.
One reason for Romo’s superb season, aside from an improved running game, has been the addition of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who came over from Detroit in the off-season. The Lions’ loss was the Cowboys’ gain. Linehan is an outstanding play-caller.
Expect Dallas to prevail in this game.