With 10 NFL playoff games over the next three weekends to determine the participants for the 10th Super Bowl to be played in New Orleans, it’s a good time to look ahead to what might happen.
Here are 10 questions that could be on people’s minds one day before the wild-card round, the first of two wall-to-wall weekends of playoffs leading up to conference title games Jan. 20, begins.
1. Which game this weekend holds the best storyline?
You have to love the Indianapolis Colts’ rise from a two-win season in 2011 to the playoffs despite coach Chuck Pagano’s health issues and a revamped roster with a rookie quarterback stepping into Peyton Manning’s shoes.
That’s hard to beat.
2. Who has the best chance of pulling off a wild-card upset?
It would be easy to point to the Washington Redskins, but they’ve been on quite a run for a while and, like the Colts, could be ready to hit the wall against a strong Seattle Seahawks defense.
So the nod goes to the Cincinnati Bengals, who could bump off the struggling Houston Texans.
3. Which rookie quarterback will have the biggest impact this weekend?
As much as I like RGIII and Andrew Luck, the pick is the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson. Who could’ve guessed this 5-foot-11, 206-pounder would throw 26 TDs and only 10 interceptions?
And, he has a great Twitter handle — @DangeRussWilson. No kidding.
4. Can Adrian Peterson lead the Minnesota Vikings to an upset of the Green Bay Packers?
If they don’t beat the Packers, it won’t be because Peterson didn’t try.
Coming off a torn ACL, he rushed for 2,097 yards and 12 TDs, yet wants to play on special teams to help his team win. You have to love a guy with that attitude.
5. What impact will Ray Lewis’ return and retirement announcement have on the Baltimore Ravens?
Having a sure-fire Hall of Famer and one of the game’s more emotional leaders come back to a team that’s lost four of its past five games can’t hurt.
6. Are the Atlanta Falcons pulling for the Redskins this weekend?
This is like picking your poison. Many believe the Falcons aren’t the best team in the NFC and will get a test in the divisional round — especially if they face the Seahawks defense.
7. Are the Texans more likely to play like the team that started 11-1 or the one that finished 1-3?
It’s the latter for the Texans, who haven’t been the same since taking being crushed 42-14 by the New England Patriots on Dec. 10.
8. Which team playing this weekend figures to make the deepest playoff run?
It’s the Seahawks, who could be the Packers of 2010 or New York Giants of ’11.
9. If you could watch only one of these four games, which would it be?
I’ll go with the Seahawks-Redskins because of the two flashy rookie quarterbacks.
10. How will the divisional round shape up after the first weekend?
In the AFC, it’ll be Cincinnati at Denver and Baltimore at New England, while in the NFC, it’s Green Bay at San Francisco and Seattle at Atlanta.