NFL Wild Card Betting News and Notes

NFL Wild Card Betting News and Notes

NFL Wild-Card Weekend Point Spreads and Early Line Moves
By: The Linemakers 
Sportingnews.com

Here are opening point spreads and notes on early action for the NFL's wildcard playoff games. Lines are from the LVH SuperBook.

Bengals at Texans (-5, 43.5)


Cincinnati is rolling into the playoffs, having won and covered seven of its last eight games, including four in a row on the road. Houston, on the other hand, is stumbling and let the No. 1 seed in the AFC slip out of its hands by losing its final two regular-season games.

These teams also met in the wild-card round last season. The Texans, with T.J. Yates starting at quarterback in place on an injured Matt Schaub, won easily, 31-10, as a 4-point favorite. Then-rookie Andy Dalton threw three picks in that game.

Houston is 6-2 SU and 5-3 ATS at home this season. Cincy is a stout 6-2 SU and ATS on the road.

The Bengals took some early action, pushing the line at the LVH down to Texans -4.5. It remained at -5 at other books.

Vikings at Packers (-7.5, 46)

This will be the second meeting in two weeks — and the third of the season — between these NFC North rivals. Minnesota needed to beat Green Bay on Sunday to get into the playoffs, and they did just that, 37-34, as a 3-point home underdog. The Packers held serve at home in the first meeting, 23-14, on Dec. 2 as a touchdown favorite.

The Vikes are 3-5 SU and ATS on the road this season. The Packers are 7-1 SU and 5-3 ATS at home, their only loss at Lambeau coming in Week 1 to the 49ers.

Other shops have Green Bay as an 8-point favorite for next Saturday’s nightcap.

Colts at Ravens (-6, 46.5)

Baltimore isn’t exactly in good form heading into the postseason, dropping four of its last five. Indianapolis comes in having won and covered six of its last seven. Indy may be the lower seed, but it has a better record. The Colts are 11-5; the Ravens 10-6.

None of this prevented bets on Baltimore, as this line was moved to -6.5 shortly after opening

Indy is 4-4 on the road, none of the wins coming against quality competition. The list: Titans, Jaguars, Lions and Chiefs. Baltimore is 6-2 SU but just 3-5 ATS at home.

There have been two recent playoff meetings between these clubs. The Peyton Manning-led Colts got the wins in both — 20-3 in Indianapolis in 2010, and 15-6 at Baltimore in 2007.

Seahawks (-2.5, 44.5) at Redskins

Seattle is laying points in Washington as the only road favorite in the first round of the playoffs. The Seahawks are just 3-5 SU and 4-4 ATS on the road this season. They've won their last two away from home, one of those wins at Toronto against the Bills — not exactly a home game for Buffalo. Seattle is 0-3 when laying points on the road — in Arizona, St. Louis and Miami.

This is a matchup of two of the league's hottest teams. The Seahawks have won five in a row and seven of their last eight; the Redskins have reeled off seven straight victories. Rookie of the year candidates Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III lead their teams into the late Sunday afternoon offering.

There was some early action on the OVER, as the number was adjusted up to 45.

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Wild Card Angles
By Marc Lawrence
VegasInsider.com

NFL Wild Card Round... All In

Home cooking.  It used to be a solid handicapping edge during the playoffs.

Not so anymore.

For the longest time backing home teams in the NFL postseason has been a solid-moneymaker, going 167-135-6 (55.1%) dating back to 1980.

Today, however, that would be a mistake as the success of home teams in the playoffs has dissolved quicker than an Alka Seltzer in a cold glass of water.

A closer look finds home teams just 113-102-5 ATS (52.7%) since the 1990 season and, even worse, 64-66-1 ATS (49.2%) since 2000.  Thus, like the economy, NFL playoff hosts have fallen on hard times.

The key today to winning in the playoffs is breaking the games down into rounds.  And in doing so it’s wise to remember the linemakers have made the visiting teams more attractive (read: value-laden) than ever before.

Let’s take a look into opening round time-tested theories involving unrested, No. 3 or lower seeded teams, in playoff games.

Note: All results are ATS (Against The Spread) and are since 1980, unless noted otherwise.

Stun Guns

Teams in NFL Wild Card round contests playing off a straight up season ending loss as a favorite tend to bounce back up off the carpet, going 21-11-1 ATS  - including 10-3 ATS at home.

This year finds the Texans and Packers return home looking to right themselves from road favorite losses last weekend.

Division Downers

Wild card road teams have a difficult time after dueling a division opponent in their season ending finale, going 20-40-1 ATS – including 0-4 ATS last year.

Send these highwaymen out as ‘dogs of more than 3 points and the task worsens as they are 4-30 SU and 9-25 ATS.

Not a good sign for the Bengals, Colts and Vikings this week.

ATS Diabetes

Like kids in a candy store, NFL Wild Card teams playing off huge regular season wins tend to crash-and-burn in these playoff openers.

Teams off a SU underdog win are just 11-23 SU and 13-20-1 ATS, including 3-13 SU and 4-12 ATS if the Over/Under total in today’s game is set at more than 41 points.

So long Vikings.

In a similar vein, teams suffer from more than a sugar rush In opening round playoff games if they managed to they beat the spread by 12 or points, going just 5-15-1 ATS when on the road during this round.

The Colts look to throw a show this Sunday.

There you have it.  A look at some of the more intriguing Wild Card trends and angles surrounding this year’s card.

I’ll be back next week as we sneak a quick look at the Divisional Round playoff matchups.

Until then, good luck as always.

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NFL Wildcard Weekend Point Spread Update
By: The Linemakers
Sportingnews.com

Each of the NFL's four wildcard playoff games has seen some line movement in Las Vegas since being posted Sunday night upon completion of the regular season. Here’s a look at where the point spreads stand, as of early Wednesday morning at the LVH SuperBook. Check our live odds board for updated NFL playoff lines.

Bengals at Texans (-4.5, 43.5)

Houston opened at -5, but Cincinnati money drove this spread to as low as -4 on Monday. That number attracted some Texans money, and the line was bumped back up a half-point. It sits at -4.5 at pretty much every book in Vegas.

When these teams met in the wildcard round last season, the Texans were a 4-point favorites despite having to start T.J. Yates at quarterback in place of an injured Matt Schaub. Houston won handily, 31-10.

Houston is 6-2 SU and 5-3 ATS at home this season. Cincy is 6-2 SU and ATS on the road.

Vikings at Packers (-8, 46)

Green Bay has drawn some action after opening -7.5. The Packers were laying a touchdown at home versus Minnesota on the first Sunday of December and prevailed, 23-14.

The Vikes, of course, upset the Pack, 37-34, as a 3-point home dog on Sunday, in a game both teams needed to win.

Most shops are with the LVH and have this game at -8; the Wynn has -8.5.

Colts at Ravens (-6.5, 46.5)

The opening line of -6 has drawn some bets on Baltimore, and the line is up to -6.5 at some shops and -7 (even) at others. This despite the Ravens limping into the playoffs, having lost four of their last five, and owning a worse record than the Colts.

The Colts are 4-4 on the road, none of those wins coming against a quality opponent (Titans, Jaguars, Lions and Chiefs). The Ravens are 6-2 at home but have covered only three times there this season.

Seahawks (-3, 46) at Redskins

Seattle, the lone road favorite in the playoff’s first round, took money at the opening line of -2.5 and is now a 3-point favorite throughout Vegas. The Seahawks are 3-5 SU on the road this season, and 0-3 SU and ATS when laying points away from home (at Arizona, St. Louis and Miami).

The OVER is also taking money, as the total opened 44.5.

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NFL: Streaks, Trends, Notes
Sportspic.com

Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans

Bengals (10-6, 9-6-1 ATS) a smart 7-1 SU/ATS down the stretch including 4-0 SU/ATS on the road get a chance at winning their first post season game since defeating Titans during the 90-91 campaign. Bengals with momentum also have a shot at exacting revenge for a wildcard loss to Houston (12-4, 9-7 ATS) last season. Texans struggling down the stretch dropping three of its final four (1-3 ATS) outscored by 11.3 points/game are ripe for the pickens'. Texans giving up a whopping 27.5 PPG over the skid expect A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham, Andrew Hawkins with a combined 2620 receiving yards, 20 TD's to cause major damage against Houston’s inconsistent secondary. Schaub throwing three interceptions and just one touchdown in the last four games stick with Bengals on a 3-1 ATS road stretch vs the AFC South, 11-2 ATS road streak as dogs after scoring => 20 points.

Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins

Not much separates these two on the offensive end. Seahawks score 25.7 PPG behind rookie QB Russell Wilson finishing the season with a 100.0 passer rating chucking 3,118 yards with 26 TD, 10 Int along with rushing 489 yards for 4 TD. Redskins' averaged 27.2 PPG spearheaded by rookie QB RGIII completing the campaign with a 102.4 passer rating notching 3200 passing yards (20 TD, 5 Int) while adding another 815 rushing yards for 7 majors. Both have solid ground games to complement respective pivots. Seahawks have Marshawn Lynch (1590 RY, 11 TD), the Redskins' have rookie Alfred Morris (1610 RY, 13 TD). Defensively, slight edge to Seahawks who surrender 15.3 PPG on 305.74 total yards split between 202.6 passing, 103.1 rushing yards while Redskins' give up 24.2 PPG on 281.9 passing, 95.7 rushing/yards. Seahawk backers have reason to feel confident as their team has cashed 11-of-16 tickets this season. But, laying three on the road certainly puts Seahawks in dangerous betting territory as seven of those tickets were cashed at CenturyLink Field (7-1 ATS) with Seahawks a vig-losing 4-4 ATS on the road. A deeper dive into our trusty data base tells us Seahawks are just 8-17 SU, 10-14-1 ATS on the road since Pete Carroll took over including 1-4 ATS as a road a favorite. Makes Redskins' worth a second look knowing home teams in this round were 4-0 SU/ATS last year, 11-9 SU, 12-8 ATS the past five years including 5-3 ATS as underdogs.

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NFL Poolies Betting Cheat Sheet: Wild Card Weekend
By Covers.com

Check out our NFL poolies' cheat sheet for all your football wagering needs in condensed form. Quick-hitting betting notes on all of this weekend’s playoff action.

Cincinnati at Houston (-4.5, 43)

The Bengals won seven of their final eight games to secure consecutive postseason appearances for the first time since the 1981-82 seasons. Cincinnati's defense has been sensational in the second half of the campaign, not allowing more than 20 points and limiting six of its last eight opponents to 13 points or fewer. The Texans have dropped two straight SU and ATS and quarterback Matt Schaub has thrown only one TD pass against three interceptions in the past four games. The Bengals are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games overall and have covered the number in their past four road games.

Minnesota at Green Bay (-9.5, 46)

The Packers have won 26 of their last 28 games (including the postseason) at Lambeau Field. They are just 2-4 in their last six home playoff games, however. Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes and amassed a season-high 365 yards for Green Bay in last week’s setback to the Vikings and has been at his best down the stretch, totaling 10 touchdowns and no interceptions in the Packers' final three regular-season games. Stopping Adrian Peterson will be the No. 1 goal for the Green Bay defense. The MVP candidate shredded the Packers for 409 yards in two meetings this season. The Vikings are 4-0 ATS in their last four games overall.

Indianapolis at Baltimore (-6.5, 47)

The Ravens, who have dropped four of their last five games, are fueled by their own inspiration after future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis announced he will retire at the conclusion of the season and could be potentially playing in the final game of his career. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin will also be back on the field after his one-week hiatus with a bruised shoulder. Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck is cruising into the postseason on a high. The top overall pick has thrown five touchdowns without an interception in his last three games - and the Colts have won nine of 11 following their 28-16 triumph over AFC South champion Houston. The Colts are 8-0 ATS in their last eight meetings with the Ravens, but keep in mind those covers were during the Peyton Manning era in Indianapolis.

Seattle at Washington (3, 46)

The Redskins will host a playoff game for the first time in 13 years on Sunday. Washington has won seven consecutive contests SU and ATS, while Seattle enters on a five-game SU winning streak (4-1 ATS). Both teams feature potent rushing attacks, but the Seahawks have the edge on defense. Seattle allowed an average of 321.6 yards for the league's fourth-best mark while Washington allowed an average of 390.8 for the NFL's fourth-worst. Seattle is 6-0 ATS in its last six games against a team with a winning record.

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Wild Card Saturday
Vegasinsider.com

CINCINNATI BENGALS (10-6) at HOUSTON TEXANS (12-4)

Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Houston -4.5 & 43
Opening Line & Total: Texans -4.5 & 43.5

Cincinnati tries to win its first playoff game in 23 years on Saturday when it visits the same Houston team that ended its 2011 season in this same Wild Card round.

This is a rematch of last year’s AFC Wild Card matchup in which the Texans played back-up QB T.J. Yates but still cruised to a 31-10 victory. This year the Bengals played only four games against teams that made the playoffs, going 2-2 SU and ATS. That included last week’s narrow home win against a Ravens team that emptied its bench. They did win four straight on the road to finish the year, three over bottom-feeders and one a mistake-filled gift at Pittsburgh. Houston slumped down the stretch, but did go 6-2 SU and 5-3 ATS at home, with its two SU losses coming to NFC playoff teams in Green Bay and Minnesota.
   
The Bengals' look to end a four-game postseason losing skid, with their last playoff win coming in 1990, a 41-14 victory over the Houston Oilers. The Texans have lost three of four, but all three of those defeats were against teams playing in the postseason (Patriots, Vikings and Colts). Before last week's win in a meaningless game over the Ravens, the Bengals hadn't beaten a current playoff team since Week 3 in Washington. With Cincy's top RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis hurting with a hamstring injury, the team has little chance of gaining yards on the ground versus Houston's 7th-ranked rushing defense allowing only 97.5 rushing YPG. And the Texans offense is tough to slow down at Reliant Stadium, scoring 29.2 PPG with 374 total YPG at home this year. They are also 20-6 ATS (77%) on grass fields in the past two seasons.

Cincinnati has been a great road team this season, going 6-2 (SU and ATS), with 24.6 PPG and 361 total YPG. However, QB Andy Dalton has struggled in the past three tilts, throwing for just 616 yards (5.8 YPA), 2 TD and 4 INT while taking 13 sacks. Dalton was awful in the playoff loss in Houston last year, throwing three picks and getting sacked four times. But not all is hopeless for Dalton, as the Texans secondary has faltered down the stretch this year, ranking a mediocre 16th in passing yards allowed (226 YPG). And they have 0-or-1 takeaways in six of the past seven games. The key matchup here will be Cincy star WR A.J. Green (1,350 rec. yds, 11 TD) against Houston's shutdown CB Johnathan Joseph, a former Bengals player.

Cincy desperately needs injured RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (hamstring) to keep the Texans' pass rush (44 sacks, T-5th in NFL) at bay. Green-Ellis has played in four playoff games in the past two seasons with New England, rushing for a pedestrian 183 yards on 47 carries (3.9 YPC) and one touchdown. The Bengals know they must be keenly aware of Houston DL J.J. Watt, who has 81 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 23 Tackles for Loss and 16 passes defended this season. Watt also returned an interception 29 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter of last year's playoff win against Cincy, giving his team the lead for good.

Texans QB Matt Schaub is making his playoff debut, and is sure happy this debut is at home, where he has a 101.7 passer rating (8.0 YPA, 13 TD, 4 INT) this year, compared to his 79.5 rating (6.7 YPA, 9 TD, 8 INT) on the road. He did not finish the 2012 campaign on a strong note with 1 TD and 3 INT over his final four games, but he does have a healthy WR Andre Johnson who has been outstanding late in the season. In the past seven games, he has 66 catches for 1,001 yards (143 YPG), including four games of at least 140 yards. Johnson caught five passes for 90 yards and a TD in last year's win over Cincy.

But the Texans prefer to run the football (508 rush attempts, 4th-most in NFL), in particular with Arian Foster, who has 1,424 rushing yards (6th in NFL) and a league-leading 17 total touchdowns. The Bengals had no answer for Foster last year, as he rumbled for 153 yards (6.4 YPC) and 2 TD on the ground, plus 29 more yards through the air.

However, this year's Cincinnati team has a great defense, ranking 7th in the NFL in passing defense (213 YPG) and 12th in rushing defense (107 YPG). The Bengals also rank third in the NFL with 51 quarterback sacks, led by DT Geno Atkins (12.5 sacks) and DE Michael Johnson (11.5 sacks).
 
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (10-6) at GREEN BAY PACKERS (11-5)

Sportsbook.ag Line: Green Bay -7.5 & 46
Opening Line & Total: Packers -8 & 46

NFC North foes will meet for the third time in a little more than a month when the Vikings visit the Packers in the NFC Wild Card playoffs on Saturday night.

In the regular season finale, with the Packers playing for a first-round bye and the Vikings trying to make the playoffs, Minnesota won 37-34 on a last-second field goal as Adrian Peterson ran for 199 yards. In two games against the Packers this year, Peterson has 409 rushing yards and 7.4 YPC. In their meeting at Green Bay in Week 13, QB Christian Ponder was miserable, going 12-of-25 for 119 yards and 2 INT in a 23-14 Packers win. Green Bay has beaten the Vikings at home three straight times, SU and ATS.

Minnesota is just 3-5 SU and ATS on the road this year. Before the Week 17 loss, Green Bay had won five straight SU (4-1 ATS) in this series and was a perfect 4-0 (SU and ATS) in December. And Aaron Rodgers is a lot more battle-tested in the playoffs with a 105.5 passer rating during six career postseason starts, as opposed to Ponder making his playoff debut.

The Vikings are also a team that doesn't usually thrive after a close win. Since 1992, they are 4-17 ATS (19%) on the road after a win by 3 points or less, including 2-12 ATS when that narrow win was at home.

Ponder had a career-high 120.2 passer rating in last week's win, completing 16-of-28 passes for 234 yards, 3 TD and 0 INT. But his rating hasn't even been half that number in his two visits to Green Bay where he's completed just 47.5% of his passes for 309 yards, 1 TD and 3 INT. Especially with top WR Percy Harvin (ankle) unable to play, there's no secret that the Vikings will try to win this game on the ground with Peterson, who has rushed for 1,442 yards (5.6 YPC) and 9 TD in a dozen career games in this series. And although Peterson is tough to catch on his fast home turf (5.6 YPC), he's be-en even better on the road this year with 6.5 YPC.

Green Bay allows a respectable 118.5 rushing yards per game (17th in NFL), but the Viking have gained 457 yards (228.5 YPG) in the two meetings this year. Green Bay has a stronger passing defense (218 YPG allowed, 11th in NFL), allowing just 161 passing YPG in the past five games. This unit will be even more formidable when S Charles Woodson (55 career INT) returns to the field for the first time since Week 7 because of a collarbone injury. Ponder also has to make quick decisions as the Packers rank fourth in the NFL with 47 sacks this year.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has put up some pretty impressive numbers in the postseason, throwing for 1,781 yards (297 YPG), 15 TD and 4 INT, while posting a 4-2 record. He's also been incredible in the past four seasons in this series versus Minnesota, completing 71% of his passes for 2,503 yards (313 YPG), 23 TD and 4 INT. This includes his 365 yards and 4 TD in last week's loss. Rodgers will also benefit from the probable return of WR Randall Cobb (ankle), who caught 80 passes for 954 yards and 8 TD this season. Top WRs Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson are also both 100 percent healthy, which is bad news for the Vikings' 24th-ranked passing defense. Jennings caught eight passes for 120 yards and 2 TD last week, giving him 29 catches for 497 yards and 7 TD in the past five meetings with Minnesota.

Although the Packers are not a good rushing team (106 YPG, 20th in NFL), they did chew up 152 yards on 36 carries when these teams met on Dec. 2 at Lambeau Field. RB DuJuan Harris got 14 of the team's 16 carries last week, but veteran Ryan Grant and second-year man Alex Green could also run the football on Saturday night. Having some semblance of a running game will be key, especially because the Vikings are tied for 5th in the NFL with 44 sacks this year.

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Wild Card Sunday
Vegasinsider.com

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-5) at BALTIMORE RAVENS (10-6)

Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Baltimore -7 & 47
Opening Line & Total: Ravens -6.5 & 46.5

Indianapolis tries to extend its amazing season when it visits AFC North champion Baltimore on Sunday afternoon in the first round of the NFL playoffs.

The Colts finished out the year winning nine of 11 (SU and ATS), including last week’s impressive home win that knocked the Texans out of the AFC’s top spot. They were not particularly strong on the road this year though, where they went 4-4 (SU and ATS), but 0-3 against teams that finished 2012 with a winning record. Baltimore was 6-2 SU, but only 3-5 ATS at home this year. They had offensive issues all season and this will be just the fourth game as offensive coordinator for Jim Caldwell. After a strong showing against the Giants, they opted against using their starters in the regular season finale, a 23-17 loss to the Bengals.

The Colts were the feel-good story of the 2012 regular season, which they ended with an extremely emotional home win against the Texans in head coach Chuck Pagano's first game back on the sidelines since being diagnosed with leukemia. The team and its rookie quarterback are about to get a heavy dose of reality on Sunday against a veteran Ravens team. Indy was much better at home than on the road, and it benefitted from what turned out to be an extremely favorable schedule. Indianapolis played only five road games against teams that ended the season with more than four victories, and two of those five were against 6-10 teams: The Colts lost 35-9 as a 3.5-point underdog to the Jets and beat the Titans in overtime as a 3-point underdog. They failed to cover any of the three road games they played against teams with winning records, losing by 20 at Chicago, by 25 at New England and by 12 at Houston.

It’s widely believed that Ravens LB Ray Lewis will return from a torn triceps muscle for this game—the experience of Lewis and Baltimore coach John Harbaugh's many other veterans who reached the playoffs for a fifth straight season will ultimately spell the difference in this one.
   
Colts QB Andrew Luck has put together a terrific rookie season with 4,374 passing yards (7.0 YPA) and 23 TD, but also 18 INT. He's thrown 13 of these picks on the road where he carries a subpar 70.1 rating. The Ravens have an average passing defense with all the injuries in their secondary, as they allow 228 passing YPG (17th in NFL). Their biggest concern on Sunday will be Colts top WR Reggie Wayne, who has caught 106 passes for 1,355 yards and 5 TD this season. Rookie WR T.Y. Hilton has also come on strong with four 100-yard games in his past nine contests, including 111 yards and a touchdown in the regular season finale win over Houston.

Baltimore's run defense isn't special (123 YPG allowed, 20th in NFL), but it has held its past two opponents to 114 yards combined on 35 carries (3.3 YPC). RB Vick Ballard has been the team's main ball carrier in the past four weeks with 84 rushing attempts (21.0 per game), resulting in 346 yards (4.1 YPC). Although the Colts have been turnover-prone this season with 27 giveaways and a minus-12 TO ratio, they have played turnover-free football in the past two games, posting a +5 TO ratio.

Ravens QB Joe Flacco has won at least one playoff game in each of his four NFL seasons, but he hasn't always been great in these postseason contests, throwing for 1,532 yards (170 YPG, 6.2 YPA), 8 TD and 8 INT, equaling a subpar 70.4 passer rating. One of his worst playoff games came against Indy after the 2009 season when he completed just 20-of-35 throws for 189 yards, 0 TD and 2 INT (48.4 passer rating). But like Luck, Flacco has been much more productive at home (99.0 rating, 8.3 YPA, 15 TD, 5 INT) than on the road (74.9 rating, 5.9 YPA, 7 TD, 5 INT). More good news is that top WR Anquan Boldin (921 rec. yds) is set to return from a shoulder injury and No. 2 wideout Torrey Smith (855 rec. yds) is also healthy. This duo should be able to get open against Indy's 21st-ranked passing defense (237 YPG).

RB Ray Rice is still the focal point of this offense, but he hasn't done much in the past two postseasons with just 216 yards on 71 carries (3.0 YPC) and 1 TD in these four games. However, in his last full game with Jim Caldwell calling the shots, Rice gained 158 total yards in a 33-14 thumping of the Giants. He should also be able to find holes to run through against a Colts defense giving up the fourth-most rushing yards in the NFL this season (138 YPG). The Ravens have committed just 16 turnovers, which ties them for the second-fewest in the NFL.
 
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (11-5) at WASHINGTON REDSKINS (10-6)

Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Seattle -3 & 46
Opening Line & Total: Seahawks -2 & 45.5

Two teams riding long winning streaks meet on Sunday in the first round of the NFC playoffs when Seattle visits Washington.

The Redskins earned their seventh consecutive win last week, though QB Robert Griffin III (knee) clearly wasn’t 100 percent. Griffin threw for 100 yards and ran for 63 in the win, as the Redskins had to lean heavily on rookie RB Alfred Morris (200 yards, 3 TD).

The Seahawks come into this game as the NFL’s hottest team, going 5-0 SU (4-1 ATS) in December and outscoring opponents 193-60 in those games. They have been less impressive on the road this year, where they’re 3-5 SU and 4-4 ATS. But they won their last two road games, a blowout over the Bills in Toronto and an overtime win at Chicago.

Both teams are red-hot with super intelligent rookie quarterbacks, but the Seahawks defense is much better, as they have held each of their past five opponents to 17 points or less. Seattle's power running game is also more suited for the playoffs, rolling up 153+ yards in each of its five straight victories, averaging 212 YPG on 6.1 yards per carry during this streak. The Seahawks are 9-1 ATS when playing a winning team in the past two seasons, and 7-0 ATS during this same timeframe against great rushing teams (130+ rush YPG). And Washington is 4-13 ATS (24%) at home after posting 175+ rushing yards in the last game since 1992.

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has been outstanding in the second-half of the season, winning seven of eight games with a 67% completion rate, 9.0 YPA, 16 TD and 2 INT, equaling an impressive 120.3 passer rating. He's also rushed for 361 yards and 4 TD in these eight contests. RB Marshawn Lynch has certainly lived up to his "Beast Mode" nickname down the stretch with eight 100-yard efforts in his past 10 games, including four in a row. Lynch was a monster in his first career playoff game in Jan. 2011, rushing for 131 yards on just 19 carries, including a highlight reel, 67-yard touchdown run in a 41-36 win over the Saints. But in the next game, he carried the football just four times for two yards.

The Redskins have an excellent rushing defense (95.8 YPG, 5th in NFL), but they have been burned through the air constantly, allowing 282 passing YPG (3rd-worst in NFL). The good news for Washington is that CB Cedric Griffin is eligible to play after serving a suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. But Seattle has great depth in its receiving corps with eight players catching more than a dozen passes this year, led by Sidney Rice (50 rec, 748 yds, 7 TD) and Golden Tate (45 rec, 688 yds, 7 TD).

Robert Griffin III has thrown just one interception in 190 pass attempts on his home field this season, but has just 8 TD passes in these eight games, compared to 12 TD tosses in seven road games. Although he's clearly been bothered by his knee injury, Griffin is still completing 66% of his passes for 9.2 YPA, 12 TD and 2 INT in the past six games, equaling a 119.4 rating.

Griffin gets all the hype, but rookie RB Alfred Morris has been tremendous in the past six games, galloping for 744 yards (124 YPG) and 8 TD. He'll have his work cut out for him though as Seattle ranks 10th in the NFL in rushing defense (103 YPG). If Morris cannot be effective, the Redskins will try to throw the football, but that could be even more dangerous against Seattle's sixth-ranked passing defense (203 YPG allowed).

The Seahawks defense has 18 interceptions while allowing just 15 TD through the air. Only Atlanta (14 pass TD allowed) has given up fewer passing touchdowns in the league, while Washington has given up more than twice as many passing TD (31). When Griffin drops back, he will rely mostly on WR Pierre Garcon, who has 33 catches for 475 yards and 3 TD in the past six games. Garcon has also been clutch in the postseason, totaling 329 receiving yards and 3 TD in his past three playoff games, scoring once in each game.

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Saturday Wild Card Tips
By Kevin Rogers
VegasInsider.com

The NFL postseason begins on Saturday with a rematch of a Wild Card game from last season and a rematch of a division battle from last Sunday. The Bengals and Texans are going in different directions, while the Packers try to forget about last year's playoff meltdown with a meeting against the Vikings.

Bengals at Texans (-4½, 43½)

Cincinnati seemed like a one-hit wonder after qualifying for the 2011 postseason at 9-7 and losing at Houston in the Wild Card round. The Bengals overcame a 3-5 start this season to win seven of their final eight contests to finish at 10-6 and get a return date to Reliant Stadium for another Saturday Wild Card matchup.

The Texans were a repeat offender of a poor December finish for the second straight season, dropping three of their last four games, all by double-digits. Last season, Houston didn't have the luxury of its starting quarterback Matt Schaub in the lineup, who was out due to a Lisfranc injury. Schaub is healthy this time around for the postseason, but he will need to duplicate the effort put together by his backup in this round last January.

Houston won its first ever playoff game (in its first try) over Cincinnati in the Wild Card round one year ago, 31-10 as four-point home favorites. T.J. Yates led the Texans on three scoring drives, including a pair of touchdowns in the second half. Arian Foster rushed for two touchdowns and 153 yards, while J.J. Watt's interception return for a score in the final minute of the first half broke a 10-10 tie. The Bengals couldn't recover from that mistake, as Cincinnati was held scoreless in the second half. The game barely broke the total of 38 thanks to a 42-yard touchdown scamper by Foster late in the fourth quarter, but the Texans would fall the following week at Baltimore in the divisional round.

This is Cincinnati's first shot at Schaub as Yates beats the Bengals twice last season, including a 20-19 comeback victory at Paul Brown Stadium in December 2011. The Bengals' defense stepped up after the slow start this season by limiting seven of their final eight opponents to less than 17 points. The 'under' cashed seven times in this stretch for Marvin Lewis' team, while the Bengals put together an impressive 7-1 ATS record.

The Texans cashed the 'under' in four of their last five games, but that was due to the offense hitting a snag, as the offense scored 16 points or less three times. Houston had an opportunity to lock up home-field advantage in the AFC, or at least capture a first-round bye, but losses to Minnesota and Indianapolis in the final two weeks cost the Texans a shot at rest. Gary Kubiak's club covered the number at home five of eight times, but compiled a 1-2 ATS record as a favorite of four points or less.

Cincinnati actually put together one of the top road records in the league at 6-2 SU, while covering six times. The two losses came at Baltimore and Cleveland, as the Bengals ended the season with four consecutive road victories (all against non-playoff teams). The Bengals have never won a road playoff contest in five tries, while trying for their first postseason victory since 1990 at the L.A. Coliseum against the Raiders.

Vikings at Packers (-7½, 46½)

These two NFC North rivals are very familiar with each other, in fact too familiar. Minnesota knocked off Green Bay this past Sunday just to make the playoffs, but it took a last-second field goal to complete the task. The Packers had a golden opportunity to capture a first-round bye with a win, as their journey to a second Super Bowl title in three seasons will have to begin without the benefit of rest.

Adrian Peterson fell short of Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record, but the Vikings' Pro Bowl running back ran the Vikings into the playoffs with 199 yards and two touchdowns in a 37-34 triumph over the Packers. Minnesota cashed outright as three-point home favorites, snapping a two-game home losing streak to Green Bay. Christian Ponder threw three touchdown passes for Minnesota, while Aaron Rodgers tossed four touchdowns, including a pair to Greg Jennings. The game easily eclipsed the 'over of 45½, the fourth 'over' in the last five meetings at Mall of America Stadium.

The Packers return to Lambeau Field owning a 7-1 SU and 5-3 ATS home mark, as the lone SU defeat came to the 49ers back in Week 1. Green Bay cashed as seven-point home favorites in an early December victory over Minnesota, 23-14. Following an 82-yard touchdown run by Peterson to give the Vikings a 14-10 lead, the Packers outscored Minnesota, 13-0 in the second half for the win. Green Bay's offense compiled 435 yards, but allowed 210 on the ground to Peterson, while the game finished 'under' the total of 47.

Thirty is the key number for the Green Bay defense, as the Packers allowed at least 30 points in four of their five losses this season. The only game in which Mike McCarthy's club didn't give up 30 points was the infamous Monday night defeat at Seattle back in Week 3, a 14-12 bitter setback that prevented the Packers from a first-round bye.

Minnesota tallied at least 30 points four times this season, but only one of those efforts came away from the Metrodome. The Vikings won consecutive road contests at St. Louis and Houston following a 1-5 start on the highway, as Leslie Frazier's squad cashed outright as 7½-point underdogs against the Texans in a Week 16 triumph. Minnesota hit the 'under' in five of eight road games, while allowing 23 or more points five times.

The Packers have lost four of their last six playoff games at Lambeau Field, although Rodgers is responsible for just last season's blowout loss to the Giants in the divisional round. Minnesota has dropped four of its previous five postseason contests on the road, while seeking its first playoff win since the 2009 divisional round against Dallas.

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Vegas Money Moves - Wild Card
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

The most heavily bet game of the weekend is the Seattle Seahawks playing at the Washington Redskins. Orleans sports book director Bob Scucci created some of the early action with high number, but based on tickets written and it being the final game of the weekend, the success of just about every book in Las Vegas will be hinged on that game.

“We opened the Seahawks high at minus-3 and got a lot of sharp play on the Redskins early on,” said Scucci. “But the Seahawks money has been coming strong, and combined the Redskins action as well, It’s our biggest handled game of the week.

“Once the parlays from the other three playoff games have been graded and roll into the Redskins game, it’s going to be a very large decision.”

It’s almost a shame that these two teams have to face each other right now because they are two of the hottest teams in the league, something you look for at this stage of the season when searching for Super Bowl futures. Five of the last seven Super Bowl winners have started from the Wild Card round. Playing the additional game and keeping momentum going appears to be more of an edge than resting and having the week off.

The Seahawks are 9/1 (Bet $100 to win $900) to win the Super Bowl and the Redskins are 25/1. The Seahawks have won seven of their last eight games and the Redskins have won seven straight.

When pressed for a team that could duplicate what the Giants (twice), Packers, Colts and Steelers have done from this round, Scucci said the Seahawks would be that team, but he’s hoping for a bigger draw for business purposes.

“We wouldn’t set many records with a Seahawks-Texans game, that’s for sure,” Scucci joked. “But the team I would love to see come out of this round and make the Super Bowl would be the Packers. If we get them against the Patriots or Broncos, that would be a game that would appeal to the masses more than any other.”

In order for the Packers to get there they’ll have to begin their climb by beating the Vikings, a team they lost to last week in a must win situation for the No. 2 playoff seed. Adrian Peterson has rushed for 409 yards combined in the two games against Green Bay, but Scucci still opened the Packers high for their home game.

“We got early sharp action on the Vikings +8, and dropped the game to 7½ (where it’s at now), but since then it’s been all Packers money with ticket counts on them at over 2-to-1,” Scucci said.

The other two Wild Card games haven’t generated as much excitement through the bet windows, but Scucci made a move on the fly because of an announcement.

“We had the Ravens -6½ and didn’t have a lot of action on them or the Colts, but when Ray Lewis made his announcement that he would be retiring, I thought that was worth a half-point and raised it to -7. The announcement may help shape public betting patterns and it may help the team play more focused, I don’t know, but I thought I’d be proactive with the news.”

The least bet game of the weekend has been the Bengals-Texans game where the side and total have stood still.

“We haven’t taken any large bets on the game,” said Scucci.   

The Texans are -4½ and are almost in the same situation they were in last year, except they have their starting quarterback. Last season the Texans had lost their final three games, limping into the playoffs with rookie QB T.J. Yates, and beat the Bengals 31-10. This season, they limp in having lost three of their last four and blowing the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, relegating themselves to the Wild Card round.

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Bengals at Texans: What Bettors Need to Know
By Covers.com

Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans (-4.5, 43)

A stunning late-season swoon cost the Houston Texans what appeared to be a certain first-round bye in the playoffs and put them in the position of having to host the surging Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday in the AFC wild-card round. The Texans were tied for the best record in football and were in the driver's seat for the top seed and home field throughout the playoffs before stumbling down the stretch with losses in three of their final four games. That included back-to-back defeats to Minnesota and Indianapolis to close out the regular season.

The Bengals, on the other hand, had little margin for error after a four-game losing streak left them wobbling at 3-5 at the season's midway point. Cincinnati regrouped to win four straight and seven of its final eight to secure consecutive postseason appearances for the first time since the 1981-82 seasons. The game will be a rematch of last season's first-round meeting in Houston, won 31-10 by the Texans.

LINE: The LVH opened the Texans as 5-point favorites and the line has bounced around between Houston -4 and -5 all week at most shops.

ABOUT THE BENGALS (10-6): Cincinnati's defense has been sensational in the second half of the season, not allowing more than 20 points and limiting six of its last eight opponents to 13 points or fewer. The only defeat in the final eight games came on a last-second field goal to Dallas. The Bengals ranked second in the league with 51 sacks and showed their defensive mettle by winning at Pittsburgh 13-10 in Week 16 to clinch a playoff slot. Cincinnati rested many of its starters in the regular-season finale, but has questions about its running game after 1,000-yard rusher BenJarvus Green-Ellis was held to 15 yards by the Steelers. He is also dealing with a sore hamstring. Second-year quarterback Andy Dalton has tossed only two TD passes in the past three games but, like Schaub, has an elite wideout in A.J. Green, who registered 97 receptions and 11 touchdowns.

ABOUT THE TEXANS (12-4): Houston managed a single offensive touchdown the past two games in squandering a pair of chances to sew up a first-round bye. But while many point to the 42-14 beating at New England on Dec. 10 as the start of the Texans' skid, they have been inconsistent for the past seven weeks, beginning with consecutive overtime wins over Jacksonville and Detroit. Quarterback Matt Schaub has thrown only one TD pass against three interceptions in the past four games. WR Andre Johnson has been the only reliable target in that span, hauling in 38 catches to finish the season with 112 receptions and 1,598 yards. Running back Arian Foster rushed for 1,424 yards and scored a league-high 17 touchdowns. Defensive end J.J. Watt had 20 1/2 sacks to anchor a defense that was the league's best for much of the season but allowed at least 28 points in four of the last seven games.

TRENDS:

* Bengals are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games overall.
* Bengals are 4-0 ATS in their last four road games.
* Under is 8-0 in Bengals’ last eight games following a win.
* Under is 4-1 in Texans’ last five games overall.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Foster rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns in Houston's playoff win over the Bengals last season.

2. Dalton, who was picked off three times in the postseason loss to Houston, threw 11 interceptions in the first eight games this season but only five in the final eight.

3. The Texans beat the Bengals twice last season, clinching the AFC South title on a last-second 20-19 win at Cincinnati.

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Vikings at Packers: What Bettors Need to Know
By Covers.com

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay (-9.5, 46)

Just six days after an instant classic in the regular-season finale, the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings will meet in the first round of the playoffs on Saturday night. The Vikings used a last-second field goal to steal the win on Sunday at home and grab the final wild-card spot in the NFC. This time, the Packers will have the home field advantage as the No. 3 seed and NFC North champion.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson came up nine yards short of beating Eric Dickerson’s season record but made the play when it counted on Sunday, breaking through on a 26-yard run to set up Blair Walsh’s 29-yard field goal in the final seconds. Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes and amassed a season-high 365 yards for Green Bay in the setback and has been at his best down the stretch, totaling 10 touchdowns and no interceptions in the Packers' final three regular-season games.

LINE: Books are seeing heavy action on the Vikings that has moved the line to Green Bay -7.5 at some offshores.

WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the low-20s with a slight chance of freezing rain. Winds will blow out of the west at 5 mph.

ABOUT THE VIKINGS (10-6): Minnesota needed to win its final four games of the regular season just to reach the playoffs and knocked off playoff contenders Chicago, Houston and Green Bay in those final weeks. Peterson carried it 34 times for 199 yards in Week 17 and averaged 159.8 yards over the final 10 games of the regular season despite being less than a year removed from major knee surgery. While Peterson’s performance has been consistent, quarterback Christian Ponder’s effort in the finale was more of a surprise. The second-year starter passed for 234 yards and a season-high three touchdowns without an interception for a career-best 120.2 rating. The Vikings have some big questions on defense, as cornerback Antoine Winfield left Sunday’s game with a hand injury and is questionable. Rodgers threw for three scores with Winfield off the field.

ABOUT THE PACKERS (11-5): Green Bay did not have the same motivation as Minnesota last week, with the Packers' postseason spot already assured. They could have earned a first-round bye with a victory, but the “win or go home” mentality that will be there this week was not on display in Minneapolis. Rodgers is working with a battered receiving corps with Randall Cobb (ankle) questionable and Jordy Nelson (hamstring) limited. Greg Jennings caught a pair of touchdown passes last week in his best game of the season and could get a lot more attention from the Minnesota secondary on Saturday. Stopping Peterson will be the No. 1 goal for the defense. The MVP candidate shredded Green Bay for 409 yards in two meetings this season.

TRENDS:

* Vikings are 4-0 ATS in their last four games overall.
* Packers are 8-1 ATS in their last nine games following a loss.
* Vikings are 1-5 ATS in their last six meetings in Green Bay.
* Over is 4-0 in Packers’ last four playoff home games.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. This will mark just the second meeting between the two division rivals in the playoffs. The Vikings won a wild-card game at Lambeau Field in 2004.

2. The Packers have won 26 of their last 28 games (including the postseason) at Lambeau Field. They are just 2-4 in their last six home playoff games, however, including a loss to the New York Giants in the divisional round last season.

3. Minnesota is tied for 27th in the NFL with just 10 interceptions - three by Winfield.

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Colts at Ravens: What Bettors Need to Know
By Covers.com

Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens (-7, 47)

Chuck Pagano's battle against leukemia has been one of the most inspirational storylines of the NFL season. For the visiting Indianapolis Colts to continue their spirited campaign, they'll need to upend Pagano's former team in the fourth-seeded Baltimore Ravens during Sunday's wild-card matchup. The Ravens are fueled by their own inspiration after future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis announced that he will retire at the conclusion of the season.

Baltimore enters the contest having lost four of its last five, although coach John Harbaugh elected to rest most of his starters in a 23-17 loss to Cincinnati last week. While Joe Flacco was given the majority of the day off versus the Bengals, rookie Andrew Luck is cruising into the postseason on a high. The top overall pick has thrown five touchdowns without an interception in his last three games - and the Colts have won nine of 11 following their 28-16 triumph over AFC South champion Houston.

LINE: Ravens -7, O/U 47

WEATHER:
Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the low-40s with sunny skies. Winds will blow out of the WSW at 5 mph.

ABOUT THE COLTS (11-5): With nine more wins than the 2011 campaign, Indianapolis posted the NFL's third-best turnaround in history. Luck has played a significant role in the Colts' resurgence, having led them on seven game-winning drives in the fourth quarter over overtime. His 4,374 yards are the most by a rookie quarterback. Bruce Arians has guided the team in the absence of Pagano, who was a defensive assistant coach for four years with Baltimore and defensive coordinator in 2011.

ABOUT THE RAVENS (10-6): Lewis has been sidelined 10 games with a torn right triceps, but the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year expects to play on Sunday. How much he'll play is in limbo, but wide receiver Anquan Boldin will be on the field after his one-week hiatus with a bruised shoulder. Boldin has fared well versus Indianapolis, collecting 19 receptions for 221 yards and a touchdown in three career games. Ray Rice rushed for 103 yards and a score and added six receptions in a 24-10 win over the Colts on Dec. 11, 2011.

TRENDS:

* Colts are 5-1 ATS in their last six games overall.
* Ravens are 1-4 ATS in their last five games overall.
* Colts are 8-0 ATS in their last eight meetings.
* Over is 4-1 in Ravens’ last five home games.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. Flacco has struggled in three meetings versus Indianapolis, throwing a total of five interceptions - including two in a 20-3 divisional playoff loss at Lucas Oil Stadium three years ago.

2. Jim Caldwell, who was Indianapolis' coach from 2009-11, is now Baltimore's offensive coordinator.

3. The Colts have yielded 374.3 total yards per contest, which ranks 26th in the league.

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Seahawks at Redskins: What Bettors Need to Know
By Covers.com

Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins (3, 46)

The Washington Redskins mortgaged their future last year to trade up and take Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 overall draft pick. Despite the hype, few could have anticipated that Griffin would provide such an immediate dividend. The Redskins closed the season with seven consecutive wins to claim the NFC East title and secure their first playoff berth since 2007. Yet, when Washington takes the field to host the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday afternoon in the wild-card round, there is debate in some circles as to whether Griffin will even be the best rookie quarterback on the field.

Unheralded third-round selection Russell Wilson has played brilliantly in piloting the Seahawks to five straight wins to set up the second postseason matchup in league history - and the second in as many years - featuring rookie starting QBs. As befitting his draft status, Griffin received more hype due to his all-around skills, but Wilson closed with a rush and threw more touchdown passes (26 to 20) than his counterpart. One stat which illustrates the success of both players: Griffin and Wilson finished third and fourth in passer rating at 102.4 and 100.0, respectively,

LINE: Seahawks -3, O/U 46

WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the low-40s with partly cloudy skies. Winds will be light out of the SSW.

ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (11-5): Seattle closed the season with a 20-13 victory over St. Louis, but it was a dominating three-game stretch prior to that victory that opened eyes coast-to-coast. The Seahawks annihilated San Francisco, Buffalo and Arizona by a combined 150-30, becoming the first team in 62 years to amass that many points in a three-game stretch. Wilson threw 16 touchdown passes and only two interceptions over the final eight games and running back Marshawn Lynch churned out ten 100-yard games - including four straight to close the season - to finish third in the league with 1,590 yards. Seattle was equally impressive on the other side of the ball, surrendering a league-low 15.3 points per game. The Seahawks will get a boost in the secondary when starting CB Brandon Browner returns from a four-game suspension for violating the league's drug policy.

ABOUT THE REDSKINS (10-6): Griffin set a rookie record with 815 rushing yards but is still dealing with a sprained knee ligament that caused him to sit out a game and limited his mobility in season-ending wins over Philadelphia and Dallas. He threw for only 100 yards against the Cowboys, although he still managed to run for 63 yards and a score. Like Wilson, Griffin has a hard-charging running back to lean on in fellow rookie Alfred Morris, a sixth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic. Morris finished second in the league with 1,613 yards and capped off the regular season by running over the Cowboys for 200 yards and three touchdowns. Washington's defense is vulnerable against the pass (281.9 yards), ranking 30th in the league, but was fifth against the run (95.8). It has steadily improved in the second half, allowing an average of eight fewer points over the final eight games.

TRENDS:

* Seahawks are 6-0 ATS in their last six vs. a team with a winning record.
* Redskins are 7-0 ATS in their last seven games overall.
* Over is 4-0 in Seahawks’ last four road games.
* Over is 4-0 in the last four meetings in Washington.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. The Seahawks defeated the Redskins in the playoffs in 2005 and 2007, but they have lost eight straight postseason games on the road.

2. Washington rallied from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit to win in Seattle 23-17 in November 2011.

3. Wilson was named the league's rookie of the month for December. Griffin claimed the monthly honor in September and November.

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NFL Wild Card Round

Colts (11-5) @ Ravens (10-6) —
Lot of sidebars in this game; Colts coming back to Baltimore (they’re 9-3 vs Ravens, winning eight of last nine meetings, three of last four played here), former Indy coach Caldwell is now calling plays for Baltimore, former Raven DC Pagano replaced Caldwell as Colts’ head coach, returning from bout with leukemia to resume coaching last week, Ray Lewis’ pending retirement after a great 17-year career. Baltimore ended 8-game series losing streak with 24-10 win over Colts here LY, but they limp into playoffs, losing four of last five games; they fired their OC in December, rare occurrence for team with winning record- they were actually underdogs in last four games. Ravens are 2-4 as home favorite this year, winning at home by 31-1-7-2-35-19 points (lost to Steelers/Broncos). Indy has issues; they allowed 352 rushing yards at woeful Chiefs two weeks ago, but in storybook season (they were 1-15 LY), have overcome all odds behind rookie QB Luck. AFC North home favorites are 5-8 vs spread; AFC South road underdogs are 6-9. Colts won five of last six games, are 6-4 vs spread as underdogs this year, 2-4 away from home.

Seahawks (11-5) @ Redskins (10-6) — Since 2006, road favorites in Wild Card round (non-divisional winner favored over divisional winner) are 3-5 vs spread. Two rookie QBs, two hot teams. Seattle won five in row, seven of last eight games; they had scored 58-50-42 points in consecutive games before Rams challenged them in 20-13 Seattle win last week. Should be noted that Seahawks are 2-5 in true road games this year (beat Bills in Toronto), winning 16-12 at Carolina, 23-17 in OT at Chicago, game that ultimately cost Lovie Smith his job, so Hawks are not stellar road team (lost at Arizona-Rams-Lions-Miami). Washington won/covered last seven games, pulling out win last Sunday night over rival Cowboys in what was essentially a play-in game; they’ve run ball for average of 180.6 ypg over last five games. Redskins won six of last eight games with Seattle, but two losses came in ‘05/’07 playoffs, both played out west. Seattle is +12 in turnovers in last four games (+12 for season), Washington is +10 in last six games, +16 for season. NFC West road faves are 3-2 vs spread. NFC East favorites are 6-15 vs spread, 5-9 at home. Five of last six Seattle games, three of last four Redskin games went over the total.

Armadillosports.com

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Re: NFL Wild Card Betting News and Notes

Sunday's NFL Tip Sheet
By Brian Edwards
VegasInsider.com

Colts at Ravens

As of Friday afternoon, most betting shops had Baltimore (10-6 straight up, 6-9-1 against the spread) installed as a seven-point favorite with a total of 47. Gamblers can back the Colts on the money line for a plus-250 return (risk $100 to win $250).

This game took on added importance with Wednesday’s announcement from Ray Lewis that ‘this would be his last ride.’ Lewis, one of the NFL’s all-time greats with 12 Pro-Bowl selections, will be back in uniform for the first time since tearing his right triceps muscle in Week 6.

John Harbaugh’s team limped down the stretch with four losses both SU and ATS in its last five games. However, last week’s 23-17 loss at Cincinnati shouldn’t be held against the Ravens, who rested most of their key starters in the last three quarters.

Indianapolis (11-5 SU, 11-5 ATS) has enjoyed a storybook season. The organization made the painful decision to release franchise icon Peyton Manning following a 2-14 campaign that Manning spent on injured reserve with a neck injury. With the chance to take Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick, the Colts cleaned house for the most part. They brought in new head coach Chuck Pagano and long-time Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. In addition to Luck, Indy found a slew of draft-day games like TE Dwayne Allen, TE Coby Fleener, RB Vick Ballard, WR T.Y. Hilton and WR LaVon Brazill. Indy didn’t go with a complete youth movement, however, keeping around solid veterans like WR Reggie Wayne, DE Dwight Freeney and DE Robert Mathis.

The result has been a nine-game turnaround for the Colts, who have been motivated by Pagano’s personal battle through leukemia after being diagnosed in September. The former Ravens defensive coordinator returned to the sidelines for the first time in last week’s 28-16 win over Houston as a 6 ½-point home underdog.

Luck has had his ups and downs and his overall numbers aren’t overly impressive. The Stanford producing has only completed 54.1 percent of his passes and has been intercepted 18 times. However, he has five touchdowns without an interception in the last three games. Luck threw for 4,374 yards and 23 TD passes during the regular season. He also rushed for five scores.

In Arians’s new offense, Wayne has been used much like Hines Ward was utilized in the same system in Pittsburgh. Wayne has produced 106 catches for 1,355 yards and five TDs. Hilton has a team-high eight TDs and 1,308 all-purpose yards.

Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco threw for 3,817 yards with a 22/10 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He has 13 TD passes compared to four interceptions in the last nine games.

Ray Rice is the Ravens’ best offensive weapon. The former Rutgers star rushed for 1,143 yards and nine TDs while also hauling in 61 receptions for 478 yards and one TD.

The Ravens struggled to a 2-4 ATS record in six games as home favorites. With that said, they are 19-14-2 ATS in 35 games as home ‘chalk’ during John Harbaugh’s five-year tenure.

Baltimore has won six of its eight home games but is just 3-5 versus the number. Meanwhile, Indy is 4-4 both SU and ATS on the road.

The ‘under’ is 10-6 overall for the Colts, 4-4 in their road assignments. They have seen the ‘under’ cash in three consecutive games.

The ‘over’ is 9-7 overall for the Ravens, 6-2 in their home games.

Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Eastern on CBS.
   
Seahawks at Redskins

As of Friday night, most spots had Seattle (11-5 SU, 11-5 ATS) listed as a three-point favorite with a total of 46 for ‘over/under’ wagers. Bettors can take the Redskins to win outright for a plus-130 payout (risk $100 to win $130).

Washington (10-6 SU, 11-5 ATS) has won seven in a row both SU and ATS, including last week’s 28-18 win over Dallas to clinch the NFC East. The Redskins took the money as three-point favorites thanks to a one-yard TD plunge from Alfred Morris with 1:02 remaining. Robert Griffin III ran for 63 yards and one TD while completing 9-of-18 throws for 100 yards. Most important, RG3 didn’t commit a turnover and the ‘Skins won the takeaway battle 3-0.

Seattle is on fire, winning five straight games and seven of its last eight. The Seahawks are getting it done with defense and running the football. They are tops in the NFL in scoring defense, giving up only 15.3 points per game. They are third in rushing behind 1,590 yards from Marshawn Lynch, who has 12 rushing TDs and a 5.0 yards-per-carry average.

Like Washington, Seattle is in the playoffs with a rookie quarterback. Russell Wilson, the former minor-league baseball player who was a star at North Carolina St. and Wisconsin in college, has steadily improved all year. Wilson has connected on 64.1 percent of his passes for 3,118 yards with a 26/10 TD-INT ratio. He is also a threat with his legs, evidenced by 489 rushing yards and four scores.

Wilson distributes the wealth with balance. Sidney Rice and Golden Tate have seven TD catches apiece and have combined for 95 receptions for more than 1,400 yards. Veteran TE Zach Miller has 38 grabs for 396 yards and three TDs.

Robert Griffin III has lit a fuse within the Redskins organization, one that has suffered badly throughout Dan Snyder’s tumultuous reign as owner. RG3 has been dynamic from Week 1 when he led his team to a 40-32 win at New Orleans. For the year, Griffin completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 3,200 yards with a 20/5 TD-INT ratio. He has an 8/1 TD-INT ratio at home. RG3 has rushed for 815 yards and seven TDs.

The presence of Griffin has helped open things up for Morris, who exploded for 1,610 rushing yards and 13 TDs during the regular season. Morris averages 4.8 YPC.

Mike Shanahan’s squad has been an underdog nine times, compiling a 7-2 spread record with six outright victories. The ‘Skins are 2-1 both SU and ATS as home underdogs this season. On Shanahan’s watch the last three years, they are 8-7-2 as home ‘dogs.

Seattle won outright in only three of its eight road assignments. The Seahawks went 1-3 both SU and ATS in their four games as road favorites. As road ‘chalk’ under Carroll in three seasons, they own a 1-4 spread record.

The ‘over’ is 9-7 overall for Washington, but the ‘under’ is 5-3 in its home games. The ‘over’ is on a 3-1 run in the Redskins’ last four contests.

The ‘over’ is on a 7-2 roll in Seattle’s last nine games. Nevertheless, totals have been a wash for the ‘Hawks both overall (8-8) and on the road (4-4).

FOX will provide television coverage at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.

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