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Sunday Scramble: Previewing NFL's wild-card round

The NFL's wild-card playoff schedule is set.

We normally look at the entire league on Sunday Scramble, but not much else matters right now other than the head-coaching news and the upcoming playoffs. So here are three quick thoughts on next weekend's matchups:

Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans

  1. This is a rematch of last year's wild-card game, but this time, the Texans are limping in. Losers of three games out of their last four (by 57 points combined), the Texans must be massively disappointed just to be playing in this game. The Bengals, meanwhile, have won seven of their last eight.
  1. Both quarterbacks, Andy Dalton and Matt Schaub, aren't playing well coming into this game. But Cincinnati's defense is playing better overall and is more capable of winning a game on its own.
  1. This game will include a matchup of the two best interior defensive linemen in football: J.J. Watt and Geno Atkins.

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers

  1. The Vikingsneeded all 34 carries from Adrian Peterson on Sunday to beat the Packers. Now the greatest running back of his generation must bounce back from such a massive workload on a short week. We're not going to doubt him.
  1. Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield couldn't finish Sunday's game because of his broken hand. Minnesota's defense essentially fell apart in the second half against Green Bay. The Packers hope to get wide receiver Randall Cobb back.
  1. It's a quarterbacks league, and the Vikings don't exactly have a dominant defense. There aren't many bigger upsets possible than a Christian Ponder-led team beating an Aaron Rodgers-led team in back-to-back weeks.

Indianapolis Colts @ Baltimore Ravens

  1. Colts coach Chuck Pagano faces the defense he worked with for four years. Pagano knows better than anyone where the weak spots are in Baltimore's defense, and there are plenty of them this season. Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell also will face his former team, but the 2012 Colts are so different than last year's squad that it doesn't really matter.
  1. The Colts have won five of their last six games. The Ravens have lost four of five. Both AFC games feature home teams that enter the playoffs in a serious slump.
  1. The Ravens have won at least one playoff game in every year of the John Harbaugh-Joe Flacco era. But this is the worst defense they've had by far, and the offense was poor enough to get the coordinator fired in December. Baltimore hardly is a heavy favorite.

Seattle Seahawks @ Washington Redskins

  1. Three rookie quarterbacks will start in Sunday's wild-card game. Two will face off in this matchup. It's the battle of the read option. It's the most intriguing game of the weekend, and it comes last.
  1. The quarterbacks receive the attention, but both teams' offenses are built around the running game. It doesn't get much more rugged than Marshawn Lynch and Alfred Morris.
  1. The Seahawks struggled on the road for much of the season, but their victory in Chicago was the biggest win of their season. Seattle followed that up with a blowout win over Buffalo in Toronto. The Seahawks aren't the same team away from home, but they are good enough to be the favorites next week in Washington. The Redskins simply can't match the Seahawks' defensive talents.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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