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Saturday, January 5, 2013
A closer look at wild-card games

By Field Yates

The NFL playoffs will kick off shortly and feature four games this weekend that will narrow the remaining field from 12 to 8.

At some point this weekend, either tonight or tomorrow afternoon, the Patriots will find out their first playoff opponent, whom they will host next Sunday at Gillette Stadium in Divisional Round play (4:30 p.m. ET).

Here’s a final overview at what this weekend means for the Patriots, plus a run down of all the action taking place in the NFL.

Houston (3) vs. Cincinnati (6), Saturday, 4:30 p.m. EST, (NBC)
What it means: The implications of this game are simple. If the Texans win, they will be the Patriots first playoff opponent because they will be the highest AFC seed to emerge from Wild Card weekend.

Baltimore (4) vs. Indianapolis (5), Sunday, 1 p.m. EST (CBS)
What it means: If the Texans lose on Saturday, this game becomes a play-in to face the Patriots. If the Texans win on Saturday, the Ravens-Colts winner will go to Denver to take on the Broncos.

You can find ESPN Boston’s predictions for the AFC games here.

NFC playoff picture and games
Top two seeds: Atlanta (1), San Francisco (2)

Green Bay (3) vs. Minnesota (6), Saturday, 8 p.m. EST, (NBC)
What it means: These division rivals will play for the second time in six days, and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will look to carry his team to an upset. If Minnesota wins, it would next challenge the Falcons in the Divisional Round. If Green Bay wins, it will head to San Francisco.
Prediction: Green Bay 28, Minnesota 19

Washington (4) vs. Seattle (5), Sunday, 4:30 p.m. EST (FOX)
What it means: A battle of rookie quarterbacks caps off the weekend. This game is dependent upon the outcome of the Packers-Vikings tilt; if Green Bay holds serve, the winner of this game would travel to Atlanta next weekend. If the Vikings take down the Packers, the Seahawks-Redskins winner would go to San Francisco.
Prediction: Seattle 24, Washington 22