Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis looks on from the sidelines against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter at Heinz Field. The Cincinnati Bengals won 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Are the head coaches whose teams lose in this weekend's NFL wild card games instantly on the hot seat for next season?
Sadly, with the way things go today in the NFL, that might not be too far from the truth.
But enough of that for now because now it gets real.
All of the fantasy leagues are over (my fantasy season was over in September, that's why I love the commercial that shows all of the fantasy team owners groaning over their bad teams and decisions. Misery does indeed love company).
All of the survivor pools are finished, too. And unless you're a hard core gambler, the only thing left will be the Super Bowl block pool.
That leaves us with just the games between the teams that survived the season.
Last year's champ, the New York Giants, are out. Proving again how difficult it is in this age of the salary cap to repeat as Super Bowl kings.
For our purposes, we're going to take this a week at a time. We'll look at all the games coming up this weekend and unfortunately we'll also make our predictions. (If any of you remember prior predictions in this space, you'll know the exact opposite will happen).
OK, enough already, let's get to it, shall we?
CINCINNATI BENGALS AT HOUSTON TEXANS, 4:30 p.m. ET.
Wasn't it just a few weeks ago when the Texans were being ordained as the team to beat in the entire NFL? Just goes to show how a few weeks can change everything.
Houston has now made it tougher on itself, having to play this weekend instead of resting and healing with a bye.
And I really like Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. He seems to have a little magic in him. Does he have enough magic to pull off an upset here? Man, I'm this close to saying he does, but in the end the Texans win a tight one and survive until next week.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS AT GREEN BAY PACKERS, 8 p.m. ET.
If you saw any of the meeting between these two last Sunday you should be pumped for the replay.
This one will be in Lambeau and that's going to make a world of difference. If you noticed, each time the Packers did something good - and they did plenty of good in what was a wild 37-34 loss - a loud cheer would go up.
The way it sounded, nearly half the crowd was Green Bay fans.
On Sunday, the entire crowd will be behind the Packers and they're going to be doing plenty of Lambeau leaping.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS, 1 p.m. ET.
This looks like the most intriguing game of the weekend.
What the Colts have done, a year after being rotten, is remarkable. Andrew Luck gets the big stage for the first time and he'll make the most of it.
And I'm tired of hearing about the vaunted Ravens' defense. Luck picks them apart and helps pull off the upset.
A year after a dropped pass in the end zone cost Baltimore a spot in the Super Bowl, the Ravens go home early.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS, 4:30 p.m. ET.
Wouldn't it have been fun if this game was in Seattle and somehow the Seahawks would be playing the Packers? Oh the stories we'd be seeing this week about how Green Bay got screwed by the replacement refs way back when. It's a shame it won't happen.
But as far as this one goes, I don't expect much from Seattle away from home.
Marshawn Lynch will try and do his thing to keep the Seahawks close, but in the battle of rookie quarterbacks between Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III, it will be RG3 leading the Redskins into the second round.
Just two more things before we go:
The first rule of thumb for wild card weekend is that the home team has a huge advantage. That home field advantage isn't as big in the weeks that follow because the teams are better, but in week one, being at home is huge. That's why I picked only one road team to win.
The second rule of thumb for wild card weekend is that I'm usually wrong. Never forget that.
Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several Philadelphia- area newspapers for over 25 years.
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