The NFL has four wild-card playoff games this weekend, and millions of people will settle back in sofas to scream at their televisions in joy or frustration on Saturday and Sunday.
Today the Cincinnati Bengals welcome the Houston Texans, who clearly hope they can reprise last year's script. As NPR's Tom Goldman tells our Newscast Unit, in the last season, the Texans "easily beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the playoffs. But lately, nothing has been easy for the Texans. Houston lost three of its last four regular season games." Plus the Bengals have won seven of their last eight games.
The Bengals have won seven of their last eight games. Still, NPR's Mike Pesca told NPR's All Things Considered he doesn't think either the Bengals or the Texans are that good. But his bet is on the Bengals, even though they aren't favored:
Mike Pesca reluctantly backs Cincinnati
The other game on today's docket is the Green Bay Packers, who'll host the Minnesota Vikings for their third meeting this season. As Tom tells Newscast, each team has won once against each other. "Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has gored the Packers for 409 yards in those two games. [Peterson] says the Vikings, who've won four in a row, are peaking at the right time. But Packers' offensive quarterback Aaron Rodgers leads a versatile and potent offense, one of the reasons Green Bay is an eight-point favorite."
Next up are tomorrow's games, with excitement building over two rookie quarterbacks for the early game, the Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks. ESPN.com's Howard Bryant told Weekend Edition Saturday that Washington rookie quarterback, Robert Griffin III, or RG3 as he's affectionately called, is electric:
"It's one thing when you have a great player like Robert Griffin III, the rookie quarterback, and all the hype surrounding him and everyone's talking about how good he's going to be, but it's quite another thing for him to live up to it. He has been terrific. He has been everything that everyone thought he was going to be. He can run, he can throw, and he's charismatic and he's fun, he's really done everything the team could ask of him. And [Seahawks quarterback] Russell Wilson, that nobody thought was going to be a really great player, he was supposed to be a backup, and here he is, leading his team to the playoffs, so it's going to be a really great matchup."
As for the second Sunday game, between the Indianapolis Colts and the Baltimore Ravens, Mike Pesca is calling one team a loser. He thinks the Colts are the worst team in the wild-card playoffs, despite their 11-5 winning season, because the NFL gave the Colts weak opponents this year:
"It was the weakest schedule in the league. They do that on purpose to try to give a break to teams that were horrible one year. But it was so very weak that when we're comparing a Colts 11-5 record, it's really different from a lot of other teams that were, you know, 10-6 or even 9-7. They hugely benefited from an extremely weak schedule. And when they played good teams, they did not do well. But, hey, prove me wrong, Colts. Go out and beat the Ravens."