NFL Playoffs: 5 Stories to Follow in the Wild-Card Round

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Top 5 Stories to Follow in the Wild-Card Round

The Five Best Stories to Follow in the Wild-Card Round
John-E.-Sokolowski-USA-TODAY-Sports

After 17 weeks, it's time to the kick off the NFL Playoffs this weekend. As always, fans are treated to two games on Saturday and Sunday in the Wild-Card round. After several years of wild-card teams winning the Super Bowl, interest in the games is no doubt at an all-time high.

Years back, being a wild-card team was viewed as a clear disadvantage. But now you could argue that the momentum gained by playing a game instead of resting, is more beneficial to the team. It's a topic that will always be debated: getting that extra week of rest vs. keeping the momentum going.

I think there are some teams that are so good that the week off has little effect on them, but for those teams not so talented, it often results in a flat start the next game.

Either way, the games fans will witness over the weekend will be just as entertaining as any other round in the postseason. With several ideal matchups and storylines in play, the NFL Playoffs will get a great start with the Cincinnati Bengals visiting the Houston Texans, and the Minnesota Vikings traveling to take on the Green Bay Packers.

Sunday will feature the Indianapolis Colts taking on the Baltimore Ravens, followed by the Seattle Seahawks at the Washington Redskins.

Of course winning is why they play the game, but in addition to the wins and losses there will be many stories that develop out of those results. Let's take a look at the top five stories to follow in the first round of the 2013 NFL playoffs:

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Houston Texans Attempt to Right the Ship

Thomas-Campbell-USA-TODAY-Sports
Thomas-Campbell-USA-TODAY-Sports

What has happened to the Texans lately? Losing three of four heading into the playoffs, and at the same time losing home-field advantage. Not the way you'd like start the postseason, but regardless they're in, and they're still talented.

Even if the Texans don't play their best game, they can still beat the Bengals at home. Cincinnati is certainly not a team to sleep on, but overall I just don't think they're a real threat to win it all. The Texans have the talent to win a title, but again I just don't see it happening. However, if Houston wins this one, maybe they get back on a roll?

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Adrian Peterson Continues Historic Season Against Aaron Rodgers

Brace-Hemmelgarn-USA-TODAY-Sports
Brace-Hemmelgarn-USA-TODAY-Sports

Fans will be treated to a good old-fashioned NFC North battle Saturday night. The game will feature the reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers going up against one of this year's top candidates, Adrian Peterson.

The Vikings need to execute the exact same game plan they did last Sunday in order to win on Saturday night. That game plan includes mainly handing it off to Peterson, and hoping he can rail off another 200-yard performance at Lambeau.

On the other side, Rodgers will try and throw the Packers into the next round. His receivers are banged up, but he could potentially have all three of his favorite targets on the field Saturday in Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, and Randall Cobb.

If MVP Rodgers shows up, Green Bay should come out on top. But going up against Adrian Peterson, you can't say for sure. It should be very entertaining come Saturday night.

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Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts Try to Prove Themselves

Thomas-Campbell-USA-TODAY-Sports
Thomas-Campbell-USA-TODAY-Sports

You have to say that the Colts are the surprise team and best story of the year. Led by rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and returning head coach Chuck Pagano, the Colts travel to Baltimore Sunday to try and win a playoff game.

This is a place no one thought the Colts would be, myself included. I thought Luck would be good, but not this good. Indianapolis no doubt has a decent chance of knocking off the Ravens. They're a team that's hit its stride at the right time, and they have all the inspiration in the world with Pagano back on the sidelines.

The knock on the Colts has been that they haven't beaten anyone this year, and especially not on the road. They've got a chance to end all that chatter on Sunday afternoon.

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Rookie Showdown - Robert Griffin III vs. Russell Wilson

Brad-Mills-USA-TODAY-Sports
Brad-Mills-USA-TODAY-Sports

If you predicted an RG3 vs. Russell Wilson playoff matchup after last April's draft, I'd like to meet you. No one saw this coming when the Seahawks took Wilson in the third round last year. Even with Griffin at the No. 2 pick, most didn't see him leading the Redskins to the postseason in 2012, but here we are.

Home-field advantage is huge for the Redskins in this one, and I expect Griffin to play like he has all season long. But you can't sleep on the Seahawks. Their defense is going to keep them in the game, and you certainly can't dismiss Wilson. He has what it takes to go on the road and get a victory.

It will be fun to watch two of the best young quarterbacks we've ever seen on Sunday night. If they both have huge games, their legends will only continue to grow. But if one guy falls flat on his face, he will no doubt take a step back, and come back to rookie reality.

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Ray Lewis: Legendary Linebacker's Final Game?

Evan-Habeeb-USA-TODAY-Sports
Evan-Habeeb-USA-TODAY-Sports

I definitely consider myself a Ray Lewis fan, and I just flat out hate the thought of him retiring from football. But I'm afraid that it is indeed Lewis' time. Will it be this Sunday? That's the biggest football story in this playoff matchup between the Ravens and Colts.

The result of this game will not affect Lewis' legacy whatsoever, but I'd still like to see him go out on top. Many are questioning whether he's even healthy enough to make a difference. But I'm of the thought that his impact on the game will be there just with his presence and leadership.

So without a doubt the Colts and Ravens game has the most going on in terms of big stories. You've got Chuck Pagano and the Colts trying to end of career of one of the best linebackers of all-time, and unfortunately someone has to lose.


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