By: Kevin Cottrell Jr. @SportsVentz

Just a Thought…FIRST QUARTER. Every year we celebrate the new year with parties, countdowns, spirits and resolutions. Resolutions are typically big goals that may take the entire year to accomplish. It takes planning, patience and discipline to obtain resolution goals and the planning part is a huge reason many fall short. The world of sports is no different. In sports they too set yearly goals. Individuals may want to average a certain amount of points or earn certain awards but to do so they plan off season workouts, weekly progressions in workouts as well as film work. In other words players don’t just wait till game time to perform and obtain goals. The team aspect is even better. Just as they games pro teams play, teams judge their progress in quarters. In the NFL, it’s every four weeks within a 16-game season. Maybe we should adopt these practices. So, go ahead set your Resolutions and make quarterly plans to obtain goals and reevaluate your progress with hopes of reaching your New Years resolution. Remember whether it be sports or life we all chase dreams and both games are played in quarters, if you can draw out an effective plan and execute it by quarter then overtime should not be needed. Lets kickoff the new year with a bang!

My 16-week NFL predictions record finished at 157-80-1, not bad at 66.0% but I did fall short of my 70% goal (kind of like my Bears). However, I’ve been granted a wild card along with the 12 NFL teams still alive in the race for the Lombardi. All our records are now 0-0 let’s see who will be eliminated, move on, and my predicted Super Bowl matchup!
Saturday Jan. 5th
BENGALS @ TEXANS (4:30pm ET): Just about a year ago these two teams met in Houston in the wild card round. Last year the Texans came out on top 31-10, so what will change? This season the Texans appeared to be world beaters dominating teams the first 10 weeks of the season, but shockingly two of their biggest losses came at Reliant stadium at the hands of the Packers and Vikings. For the Bengals this young group has taken strides this season by finally defeating the Steelers to help seal their postseason fate. Now it’s time they do the same in the postseason. For the Texans, Matt Schaub will be making his first playoff start after missing last season’s due to injury. Both Schaub and Dalton have #1 wideouts to key in on so the difference in this matchup will be the running games. Houston’s run game was a tad inconsistent down the stretch due to Foster’s health issues, while the Bengals have been consistent and more importantly hot! The Texans needed a win in the last two weeks to secure home-field throughout the postseason and dropped both games. Can they flip the dominant switch back on? Texans fans hope so. PREDICTION: Bengals 24 Texans 20
VIKINGS @ PACKERS (8:00pm ET): Only thing tougher than defeating a team twice in one season is facing the same team in consecutive weeks. That’s what the Vikings will face this weekend, not to mention they travel to Lambeau Field. Throughout the regular season, the Vikes have been carried by RB Adrian Peterson and he should be awarded the MVP for doing so, but this is a QB driven league. This is where stars are born, just like Aaron Rodgers was a few seasons ago. Rodgers and company will look to jump on top of this team early forcing the Vikings to be a one-dimensional team. While Peterson has been dominant averaging 200 rushing yards per game vs the Packers this season, they’ll see if he can match the feat while Rodgers stay on the attack through the air. Ultimately the fate of the Vikings rest squarely on the shoulders of QB Christian Ponder. Can he lead Minnesota to victory? Sure. Can he match Rodgers? Not so much. We will get a chance to see a much healthier Packers team and an aggressive offense yearning to right their 2012 postseason wrongs. The Vikings have been a good story this season but all good things come to an end. PREDICTION: Packers 31 Vikings 17

Sunday Jan. 6th
COLTS @ RAVENS (1:00pm ET) The Colts shocked the world by replacing a legend in Peyton Manning with #1 overall pick Andrew Luck, winning 11 games and reaching the postseason. For the Colts organization they somewhat overachieved but mission accomplished nonetheless, but the Ravens have just one goal in mind winning it all. With the announcement of Ray Lewis’ eventual retirement, the bird gang just received that much more motivation to do so. Many may scoff at the notion of Lewis presence changing the game but this season alone they’re 5-1 with him and 5-5 without him. His voice, direction, play and inspiration should not be overlooked. The Colts will be able to move the ball throughout the game proving to many that their season was no fluke but they will struggle reaching the end zone. For the Ravens we will see a heavy dose of Ray Rice and that may prove to be the difference. This game will be full of emotions on both sides but the Ravens will move on. PREDICTION: RAVENS 23 COLTS 17
SEAHAWKS @ REDSKINS (4:30pm ET): This is the most intriguing game of wild card weekend so it’s only fitting that this is how the weekend will end. Both teams are led by dual threat (Rookie) QBs in Russell Wilson (SEA) and RGIII (WAS). Both have very good running games and solid defenses. Edge wise, Seattle defense gets the edge since it can be nastier at the point of attack. As for the ‘Skins they’re at home a very long distance away from Seattle. So, who will make more mistakes? I tend to give the edge to the Seahawks because of Head Coach Pete Carroll’s risky nature. This game will see many similarities offensively so the unit with fewer mistakes should prevail. The ‘Skins have been magical at home this season and I see no reason for that to change. PREDICTION: REDSKINS 23 SEAHAWKS 20

NFL PLAYOFF LANDSCAPE (How it all plays out)
Bengals over Texans
Packers over Vikings
Ravens over Colts
Redskins over Seahawks

FALCONS over Redskins
PACKERS over 49ers
BRONCOS over Bengals
PATRIOTS over Ravens

CONFERENCE Championship
PACKERS over Falcons
BRONCOS over Patriots


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