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Let wild-cards fall where they may

Wild-card weekend has arrived.

Sounds like a lottery commercial. Clerks in convenience stores are standing by.

This is the NFL weekend when the not-so-good teams have gone on vacation, the really good teams are taking the weekend off and eight others are glad they're not the Jaguars.

Somewhere Aaron Rodgers is kicking back. Somewhere else Tom Brady is kicking back in really cool clothes.

And, somewhere else, that Emeril guy is kicking it up a notch.

Why not?

It's wild-card weekend - no scratch-off tickets required.

CINCINNATI at HOUSTON: Have you ever had one of those moments where you've spelled a word and you look at it and it seems wrong? It's not wrong but it just looks that way?

Same with this game. It sounds like a Tuesday night baseball game.

But this is what the AFC gives you, at least this year. To be fair, the Texans looked as formidable as Houston traffic until quarterback Matt Schaub went down. Now, not so much.

The Bengals quietly squeezed into the playoffs but they're not going to the Super Bowl. We know it. They know it.

But one of these teams is going to next week. Texans 24, Bengals 17.

DETROIT at NEW ORLEANS: Having spent last weekend in the Big Easy, I stayed away from Bourbon Street on New Year's Eve. When I strolled through the French Quarter on New Year's night, I resisted the various enticements being offered by street vendors, music clubs and all the others who looked like they belonged in the bar scene in the original "Star Wars."

What I may not be able to resist is picking the Saints to be the NFC representative in the Super Bowl. Yes, they're a different team indoors and it looks like they'll have to win outdoors in San Francisco and Green Bay to reach the big game. It can be done because Drew Brees always looks like he's throwing against the Clemson defense. Saints 41, Lions 20.

ATLANTA at NEW YORK GIANTS: There's good news for the Giants - they aren't the Jets, who have turned into the NFL's version of the "Jersey Shore" gang.

It's tough to get a read on the Giants. Sometimes they're good. Sometimes they're not. But they're never great.

The Falcons are a nice team. They have a nice quarterback, a nice running back, a really nice pair of wide receivers, a nice coach, a nice owner, nice uniforms, a nice dome and a nice chance of winning this game. But you know what they say about nice guys who haven't won a playoff game since 2004 ... Giants 24, Falcons 23.

PITTSBURGH at DENVER: By now, we should be over the infatuation with Timmy Touchdown. The wins have turned to losses. The pose has been turned to parody. The party might be over.

And still ...


There's a playoff run in the Broncos? This isn't "War Horse." This is the NFL and these are the Steelers. This is James Harrison going rogue. This is Troy Polomalu and his famous hair. This is Mike Tomlin's big eyes and this is the Steelers' time of year.

As for Tebow, it was fun while it lasted. Steelers 24, Broncos 6.

Last week: 14-2

Season: 160-72