The NFL Playoffs start in less than six hours. Before the Bengals and Texans kick off in Houston, I’ll run down my four playoff picks for Week 1 and give you my Super Bowl match-up and winner. This week’s playoff games are as follows:

Saturday, 4:30 PM: Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans;
Saturday, 8:00 PM: Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints; 
Sunday, 1:00 PM: Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants;
Sunday, 4:00 PM: Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos


Can Tom Lead The G-Men To Round 2?

Game #1: Cinncinati at Houston

On paper, this is probably the least attractive game of the weekend, but these games normally turn out to be pretty good. These teams did face off in Week 14. Despite turning the ball over four times, the Texans rallied for a 20-19 victory. Entering the playoffs, the Texans have dropped three in a row and have committed seven turnovers during that span.

The Bengals aren’t exactly lighting it up, either. By virtue of a Raider loss and Broncos win, the Bengals backed into the playoffs after getting beaten by the Ravens at home. The Bengal offense is led by two rookies, QB Andy Dalton and WR AJ Green. Dalton has apparently been extremely sick during the week, but is expected to go. Not exactly what you want out of your QB before his first playoff game.

During the regular season, Houston had the second best rushing attack. Leaning on Arian Foster and Ben Tate will make things much easier on QB TJ Yates. The Texans had the third best run defense and four best pass defense, defenses that will slow down running back Cedric Benson and the electric Green.

The Texans are playing at home, have the better offense, and defense and their QB hasn’t been hugging the toilet all week. Give me Houston in a close one.

Pick #1: Houston

Game #2: Detroit at New Orleans

For the first time in NFL History, two 5,000 yard passers will square off. New Orleans beat Detroit, 31-17 earlier this season in the Superdome in a game that was closer than the score indicates. However, the Saints are 8-0 in their silly dome and put up ridiculous numbers. Give me the video game offense, on their video games field, in Prime Time.

Pick #2: New Orleans

Game #3: Atlanta at New York

The G-Men are back in the playoffs for the first time in three years. I’ve written lengthy pieces as to why I like them in the post-season. It’ll start with a big win in Week 1 of the playoffs. 

Pick #3: New York

Game #4: Pittsburgh at Denver

The Pittsburgh Steeler M*A*S*H unit will head into Denver to take on Tim Tebow. The Steelers will be without starting RB Rashard Mendenhall, starting safety Ryan Clark, and possibly center Maurkice Pouncey. Big Ben has an assortment of injuries, but this dude is one of the toughest guys in the game and will play and play well. As always, the Steelers have one of the best defenses in football and will use that defense to create confusion for Tim Tebow.

The Broncos’ hopes and dreams rest upon the left shoulder of Tim Tebow. Steeler defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has been around the block and will force Tebow to throw. The Broncos dropped three in a row before entering Sunday’s tilt. Even worse, Tebow completed just 30 passes in those three games and threw four interceptions to one touchdown.

I like Tim Tebow and have followed him since his days at Niese High School in Florida, but this game has disaster written all over it. Look for a huge showing by the Steeler defense in a romp.

Pick #4: Pittsburgh

Looking ahead…

I’m going against the grain this year with my Super Bowl pick. It’s un-sexy to pick against the prolific QBs, but I’m doing. I’m predicting Round 2 of the Harbough Har-Bowl with the 49ers and Ravens squaring off in Indy. I also want this match-up so I can hear Mike Francesa say ‘Har-Bowl’ a million times before the actual game. 

I think this will be Ray Lewis and Ed Reed’s last stand, leading the Ravens to a very close win over Patrick Willis and the Niners. Anquan Boldin made the Super Bowl as a member of the Arizona Cardinals, but came up short against the Steelers. In a season filled with non-stop QB talk, I want to see a smash-mouth Super Bowl. 

MV’s Super Bowl Pick: Baltimore over San Francisco