01/04/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak
Today's playoff matchups feature two teams, the Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions, whose names are synonymous with playoff failure or being teams that you associated with losing or being franchises that have had their fare share of losing season. The Bengals and Lions have turned around their teams in recent years with the addition of steady quarterbacks with Andy Dalton and Matthew Stafford. But the time for these QBs and their teams is now, as far as finally winning games matter.
Cincinnati at Indianapolis
Before Ickey Woods was spiking lunch meat in grocery store aisles and celebrating "getting some cold cuts today", he was a running back for the Cincinnati Bengals. That was also the last time the Bengals won a playoff game, a drought that dates back to 1991. It's going to be harder for the Bengals to get that elusive playoff win in this one as well, as leading receiver A.J. Green will not play after sustaining a concussion in the season finale against Pittsburgh. Mohamed Sanu, who was the teams second leading receiver, will have to step up in Green's absence, which he did when Green missed time during the regular season. But with starting tight end Jermaine Gresham listed as questionable as well, the Bengals may have to lean on their running game. Rookie Jeremy Hill has led the way for Cincinnati this season, rushing for 1,124 yards and scoring 9 TD's. Behind Hill, the Bengals also have Giovani Bernard, who's 680 yards rushing were more than anyone on the Colts had during the regular season. Offense hasn't been a problem for the Colts behind QB Andrew Luck. Luck passed for 4,761 yards and threw an NFL leading 40 regular season touchdown passes. His main target has been T.Y. Hilton, who caught 82 passes for 1,345 yards and 7 TD's. The injury news is also better for the Colts, as 2nd leading receiver Reggie Wayne is expected to be at full strength after suffering a groin injury in the Colts last regular season game. Indianapolis was 6 and 2 at home in 2014, while the Bengals were 5 and 3 away from home. This is the second meeting of the season between these teams, and the first wasn't pretty for Cincinnati. The Colts dominated in a 27 to 0 win, holding the Bengals to 135 yards in total offense and just 32 yards rushing. Luck lit up the Bengals defense, throwing for 344 yards and 2 touchdowns, while the Colts rushed for 171 yards as well.
Detroit at Dallas
The NFL's leading rusher will face the league's top run defense, as the 11 and 5 Lions visit the 12 and 4 NFC East champion Cowboys. DeMarco Murray led the NFL with 1,845 yards, which is also the Cowboys franchise record for most yards rushing in a season. Murray rushed for over 100 yards in 12 games this season, and also scored 13 touchdowns. He'll face a Detroit defense that gave up an average of just 69.3 yards per game, which was lowest in the NFL. Both of these teams can get it done through the air as well. Dallas is led by Tony Romo, who passed for 3,705 yards and 34 touchdown against only 9 interceptions. His top target has been Dez Bryant, who led the Cowboys with 88 catches for 1,320 yards and scored 16 TD's. The Lions aerial assault is led by Matthew Stafford, who threw for 4,257 and 22 touchdowns. Detroit boasts a pair of 1,000 yard receivers in Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. Tate led the Lions with 99 catches for 1,331 yards and 4 TD's. Johnson caught 71 passes for1,077 yards and scored 8 times. Both of these teams come into the playoffs hot as well. Dallas won their last 4 regular season games and 6 of their final 7, while Detroit won 4 of their last 5 games. The Cowboys are 4 and 4 at home, while the Lions have the same record on the road. These teams met last season, with Detroit winning 31 to 30. The Lions rallied from 10 points down in the games final 4 minutes. Stafford passed for 488 yards in the win, with Johnson catching 14 passes for 329 yards, which is 2nd most in NFL history. Neither of these teams have been good in the post season lately though...Detroit has lost their last 7 playoff games, while Dallas has won just once in their past 8.
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