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2014 NFL Playoffs: Sunday's Wild-Card Round

January 3, 2015

And now on to Sunday's 2014 NFL Wild-Card games:

Cincinnati Bengals v Indianapolis Colts @ 1:05 on CBS

When will Andy Dalton do the smart thing and change his name to something cool like Boomer?
Michael Langston: When these two teams take the field Sunday afternoon, guess what stat broadcasters will mention time and time again during the playoffs.

Bryan Harvey: The statistic that Andrew Luck is better than Andy Dalton?

ML: That's true, but it's not really a stat. How about the last time the Bengals won a playoff game?

BH: Hm, the last time that happened was probably the last time Andy Dalton had a chance at being better than Andrew Luck.

ML: It was 1991, and Boomer Esiason was behind center and Icky Woods wasn't dancing in grocery stores for the butcher calling his number.

BH: So my previous statement still stands.

ML: Sure.

BH: Thought so.

ML: Anyway, these two teams played earlier this season in Indy. The Colts defense looked legit, Andrew Luck did whatever he wanted and they cruised to victory, winning 27-0. But since that game, the Bengals have found a good balance in their running game between Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard.

BH: Speaking of Giovanni, when is he going to come out with a book of poetry?

ML: Are you asking that because his name sounds like Nikki Giovanni?

BH: I'm asking because his creative soul is yoked to a red-haired ball and chain. He could title his collection The Running back in the Jar or simply Ego-tripping. 

ML: I'm moving on. Since that earlier game, the Colts found Boom Heron.

BH: Sounds like a poem.

ML: Then there's the receivers. Both teams have a great corps. But both lack consistency. Will the Bengals get the healthy A.J. Green who can make any team regret not double-teaming him? Will the Colts get the T.Y. Hilton who disappears or the one who exploits weaknesses over the middle?

BH: Do you think Jon Favreau will cast Andy Dalton as Shere Khan in the new Jungle Book? Because that guy ruins everything.

ML: I think we could get strong performances from both Green and Hilton. Or one or both of them could make us forget they are in the game.

BH: Sounds unpredictable.

ML: Lastly, the two QBs. Dalton has the edge as the Colts defense is pretty mediocre. But, Andrew Luck is Andrew Luck. Colts 27, Bengals 21.

BH: I really believe in this Andy Dalton fellow. I'm picking the Colts.

Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys @ 4:40 on Fox

If the Lions do ever win the Super Bowl, I expect Suh would celebrate by slaying Stafford.
ML: Matt Stafford reminded everyone that he and Jay Cutler were cut from the same cloth last Sunday night against the Packers.

BH: If you put both of them in a steel cage, who would come out the winner? I'm not sure there would even be a fight.

ML: You're probably right. Both guys can make all the  hard throws look easy. They can also make the easy throws look really hard.

BH: And a lot of the time they just play like complete jackasses.

ML: You never know what you're going to get. But they both have a ton of weapons. Stafford has the best in the league in Calvin Johnson. And a number one (for a lot of the league) playing as the second receiver in Golden Tate. Throw in two versatile backs in Bush and Bell, and you have quite the offense.

BH: Ebron also seems like he might be due for a big performance. He just needs to remember that catching the ball is important.

ML: The Lions defense, though, is a bit of a mystery to me. One week, they look elite. The next, they look mediocre to dumb.

BH: Just to clarify, this is the part of the discussion where we're talking about Suh, but also protecting his sensitive nature by speaking of his mistakes as if the entire team committed them. However, their mistakes are really Suh's mistakes. Hell, my mistakes and your mistakes are Suh's mistakes. Anyway, please continue.

ML: They get stupid penalties, miss assignments and arm tackle. It's like they have become a perfect mirror of their QB.

BH: Or he who must not be named, except we all know his name is Suh. He's like a freaking Johnny Cash song if you think about it.

ML: That combination of talent and carelessness makes it very hard to pick them, especially when they are going against the most well-balanced offense in the NFC.

BH: Demarco Murray has been like Luke Skywalker in the opening sequence of Return of the Jedi this season. And, yes, that does mean that Tony Romo had to be thawed out from a block of frozen carbonite or whatever. 

ML: Actually, I was going to say that both Tony Romo and Demarco Murray had MVP caliber years. If not for Aaron Rodgers, Romo and Murray would probably be the leading contenders for the award in the NFC. And that's before we even get to Dez Bryant. Who is playing so well, the Cowboys are leaking old/useless information in an effort to limit his bargaining ability.

BH: I don't want to say this out loud.

ML: Well, we are typing this.

BH: True. So I'll say it. The Cowboys, despite having won only one Playoff game since 1996, frighten me.

ML: I can see why, but their defense still isn't elite. They're consistent, but not elite.

BH: Tell me more.

ML: They have the look of a Super Bowl contender. But, can Romo do it in the playoffs?

BH: NO!!!!

ML: We've all been waiting for the old Romo to re-emerge. The head scratching throws have happen sometime. The snap fumbles. Where are they? Will they make an appearance?

BH: YES!!!

ML: I don't know. With how well he has played, I doubt it. I hope I'm wrong and he's a time bomb of bad decisions. But with not knowing which Stafford or Lions defense will show up, I have to take the Cowboys, as much as it hurts to say it. Cowboys 35, Lions 24.

BH: This didn't make me feel better.

Our conversation about Saturday's match-ups can be found here. Mike Langston can be followed @LangstonLCBBryan Harvey can be followed on Twitter @LawnChairBoys.

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