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Shutdown Corner

Ranking the four NFL wild-card games

Shutdown Corner

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(Jim Luzzi/Getty)

Both you and I know you're going to be on the couch for 12 hours over the weekend watching NFL playoff games. If, sadly, you aren't able to devote yourself fully to the cause, use Shutdown Corner's wild-card rankings to figure out which games are worth your time.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos -- Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET -- CBS -- Jim Nantz, Phil Simms

Who's excited for this game? Not Denver Broncos fans; they know they're going to lose. Not Pittsburgh Steelers fans; watching games you know your team should win always brings about a discomforting sensation of inevitability that makes neither a win feel as good as it should nor a loss feel as real as either would in a closer matchup. Not NFL fans; the 12-4 road team is favored over a home team that lost three straight by 8.5 points. Not casual Tim Tebow fans; Sunday will be like finding out about the Easter Bunny. The only group that will take enjoyment from this game is the strong anti-Tebow faction of our society since their theories about His inferiority will be proved correct. But even that's an empty victory because nobody's debating that fact anymore.

3. Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans -- Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET -- NBC -- Tom Hammond, Mike Mayock

On its face, this game is worse than Pittsburgh-Denver. It gets the dreaded Saturday afternoon slot on NBC, which is the NFL equivalent of getting picked last in kickball but is accompanied by the ignominy of having to listen to Mike Mayock tell you about it. If this game had been played two weeks ago, it would have been called by Rich Gannon and played in front of a television audience consisting of people from the team's respective cities and fantasy owners with Andre Johnson and Arian Foster. So why is it No. 3? Because it's always the game you least expect that turns into a thriller. That, and Steelers-Broncos has the potential to be that bad.

2. Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants -- Sunday, 1 p.m. ET -- Fox -- Joe Buck, Troy Aikman

Prediction: One team will win this game in a decisive manner and pundits will retroactively assign the meaning of said result to some factor that is currently meaningless. Example: Falcons win 23-10, everyone says, "Of course the Giants laid a playoff egg, they couldn't even beat the Redskins this year!" Or, Giants win 30-17 and the story is that, sure, Atlanta was 10-6, but only beat two teams with winning records. The takeaway: Anything is on the table for this one, which is exactly what you want out of a wild-card game.

1. Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints -- Saturday, 8 p.m. ET -- NBC -- Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth

The good folks at beyondthebets.com say that this game has the highest over/under in NFL playoff history. Ignore the huge point spread (Saints -11.5) and take comfort in the fact that you're pretty much guaranteed to see some offensive fireworks in this one. And if not, at least you get to listen to the best broadcast team in the game.

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