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Associated Press
In this Dec. 18, 2011, file photo, Detroit Lions kicker Jason Hanson (4) kicks from the hold of punter Ben Graham (2) during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders in Oakland, Calif. Hanson has accomplished a lot in his 20-year career, but hasn't won a playoff game because he was drafted in 1992 - a year after the Lions got their only postseason win since 1957 - and that fact is not lost on him.

Hey, Stranger.

Here's a playoff head-scratcher: accompanying the Patriots and Packers, Steelers and Giants, are the Lions and Texans.

On Saturday, the Texans kick off the NFL playoffs by hosting Cincinnati. It's merely their first postseason game in franchise history, a life span of 10 seasons.

At night, the Lions, whose last trip to the playoffs came in 1999 — and whose last win was eight seasons before that — play at New Orleans.

There they are, Detroit and Houston, both 10-6, in there amongst recent champions and frequent playoff qualifiers.

The lack of familiarity with such surroundings doesn't seem to concern Detroit coach Jim Schwartz, who has 17 players with playoff experience, but only kicker Jason Hanson got it with the Lions.

"We haven't always played our very best, I don't think any team ever does, but I think we've learned from some of the things that have happened and I think we're a little bit more battle-tested, a little more seasoned," he said. "There's one thing of learning about something, there's another thing experiencing it firsthand and seeing how it affects the team and things like that. I think that every time we're presented with one of those situations, we've done a pretty good job of doing it better the second time."

This is their first playoff appearance in more than a decade, but their second go-round with the Saints (13-3) in five weeks. The Lions fell 31-17 at the Superdome on Dec. 4.

Born in 2002, Houston didn't have a winning record until last season. Their AFC South crown seemed destined when Peyton Manning was sidelined in Indianapolis, but they struggled down the stretch and lost their final three games.

Indeed, Houston's last win was at Cincinnati 20-19. And it's the Bengals (9-7) who visit Reliant Stadium on Saturday.

Fourteen Texans have made it to the playoffs with other clubs.

This is Cincinnati's third playoff appearance in seven seasons, but the Bengals have flopped every time. Their last postseason victory was in January 1991.

"It would be a tremendous feeling for us to get rid of that stigma of not being able to get to the playoffs and win it," offensive tackle Andre Smith said.

On Sunday, Atlanta (10-6) is at the Giants (9-7), followed by Pittsburgh (12-4) at Denver (8-8).

Yes, the wild-card teams in those two games have better records than the division winners.



Cincinnati at Houston, 2:30 p.m.

Detroit at New Orleans, 6 p.m.


Atlanta at New York Giants, 11 a.m.

Pittsburgh at Denver, 2:30 p.m.