All four home teams won during Wild Card weekend last season; two of those teams – Denver and the New York Giants – beat opponents that had posted superior records during the regular season.
Another team – Houston – earned the first playoff win in franchise history. Cincinnati was denied its first postseason win since Jan. 6, 1991 (and Detroit its first since Jan. 5, 1992).
One common trait the four Wild Card winners had, aside from enjoying home-field advantage, was they spent the majority of their 2011 Draft stocking up on defensive players.
DENVER landed Von Miller – who has already accumulated 30 career sacks. HOUSTON chose J.J. Watt, who will likely win the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year award. NEW ORLEANS picked defensive lineman Cameron Jordan in the first round, and Jordan has started 31 of 32 career games. The GIANTS, who went on to win the Super Bowl, grabbed cornerback Prince Amukamara.
Six of Denver’s first seven picks in the 2011 Draft were defensive players. Five of New Orleans’ six picks were on defense. Houston’s first five picks were on defense, and five of New York’s first seven picks were on that side of the ball.
THIS YEAR, HOWEVER, the tables are turned; there is no doubt that the impact rookies in the first round of the playoffs will be offensive players, starting with a trio of dynamic quarterbacks: Andrew Luck of Indianapolis, Robert Griffin III of Washington and Russell Wilson of Seattle. While Luck and Wilson will begin their pro postseason careers on the road, RG3 will have the chance to play in front of a frenzied home crowd (against Wilson and the Seahawks).
Here are my predictions for the winners of the four Wild Card games this weekend: