Open Thread: NFL Wild Card Playoffs, Day 1

The NFL's Wild Card Playoffs begin at 4:30 PM EST this afternoon!  For whatever reason, I'm far more excited than usual for the start of the playoffs this year.  I'm obviously a Buffalo Bills fan first and foremost, but I love getting the opportunity to watch good teams play for keeps - and I especially like the fact that we're going to see some different teams than usual today.

Feel like making some predictions, Rumblers?  I know I do.  This is your open thread for today's games, your predictions for today's games, and anything else playoffs-related.

Atl_medium   Ari_medium
Atlanta Falcons (11-5) at Arizona Cardinals (9-7)
4:30 PM EST, NBC
Falcons coverage: The Falcoholic
Cardinals coverage: Revenge of the Birds

Arizona, as poorly as they've played over the stretch run this season, is going to be a tough out at home.  But the NFL playoffs are about doing two things well - running the football and playing solid defense.  Arizona's D will be fine, but they can't run the ball.  Atlanta can.  If Atlanta can find a way to keep Arizona's solid offense from scoring quickly to open the game, the Falcons should win easily.  If they can't, they'll win the hard way - on a comeback behind their rookie quarterback.

Prediction: FALCONS 27, CARDINALS 20
Familiar Faces: Falcons DT Jason Jefferson, SS Lawyer Milloy, LS Mike Schneck, LB Coy Wire; Cardinals OL Mike Gandy.

Ind_medium   Sd_medium
Indianapolis Colts (12-4) at San Diego Chargers (8-8)
8:00 PM EST, NBC
Colts coverage: Stampede Blue
Chargers coverage: Bolts from the Blue

These are two of the hottest teams in the NFL.  The Colts have won 9 straight after starting 3-4, while the Chargers won 4 straight to close their season with an AFC West Division championship - with a giant assist from our Bills.  This game is a lot tougher for me to call than I expected it would be.  The Chargers beat the Colts in Indy last season in the divisional playoffs, and they always play well at home.  In the end, however, I just like the Colts' running game better, and Peyton Manning will always trump Philip Rivers.

Prediction: COLTS 29, CHARGERS 24
Familiar Faces: DT John McCargo None, but it was a close shave.

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