Merriam-Webster defines "outrageous" as "exceeding the limits of what is usual." Think about that definition before you read any further.
NFL Wild Card Weekend is upon us, and everyone from bloggers to bookies has an opinion on how they think things will shake out. The problem is, many of those opinions are very similar. Where's the fun in that? Why should we watch the games? Why should the teams even play? Because given the one-and-done nature of the NFL playoffs, the outrageous is bound to happen. There is no tomorrow without victory, so the teams will take every risk and pull out every stop to move on.
Outrageous Predictions for NFL Wild Card Weekend
The Redskins blow the Packers out
Washington has won four in a row — scoring 32.75 point per game in that stretch. Kirk Cousins is a man on fire with an endless supply of weapons at the skill positions and a confident offensive line protecting him. Green Bay limps into the playoffs on the heels of two straight losses where the Packers put up a grand total of 21 points. Before that, they had a three-game winning streak against three teams who are not in the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers is not himself and I don't blame him. His receivers can't stay healthy and his running back forgot how to run the ball. The Redskins are going to do too much damage on offense for this discombobulated Packer squad to hang with them in a shootout.
AJ McCarron outduels Big Ben in a shootout
Don't expect McCarron to play the role of game manager. This is where his experience playing for championships at Alabama comes in handy. Look for him to exploit an average Steeler secondary with a not-so-average corps of receivers. McCarron is always looking for the big play in the big game, and that'll be the case on Saturday. On the other side of the ball, the lack of any real threat in the Steeler running game means the Bengals will be coming after Big Ben with their ears pinned back all night. That means plenty of rushed and ill-advised throws downfield, as the Todd Haley bubble-screen game won't be enough to get the job done this time.
The Vikings shock (and freeze) Seattle
This is going to be one of the coldest games in NFL history. Don't think that'll scare off the Viking faithful. They live for the cold and they'll be the 12th Man in this one. I like Minnesota's secondary to blanket the Seattle receivers all day. When that happens, Russell Wilson will find himself on the run behind what has been shaky pass protection against an athletic group of linebackers led by Anthony Barr. On the flip side, look for a classic NFC North game plan from the Vikings, pounding the rock straight at Seattle and controlling the tempo. You won't hear Richard Sherman's name much in this low-scoring, frigid slugfest.
Houston plays (and wins) like a division champion
Records don't matter anymore. J.J. Watt is healthy again and Brian Hoyer is ready to put everything he learned sitting behind Tom Brady in the postseason to good use. Look for the Texans to counter the Kansas City pass rush with a healthy dose of draws and short, quick passes. Watt and Whitney Mercilus will be foaming at the mouth to get after a Chiefs offensive line that allowed 46 sacks during the regular season — tied with Seattle for sixth worst in the league and second only to Green Bay among playoff teams. Look for the Texans to win a close one on the back of a defensive touchdown.