NFL Wild Card Playoff Betting Tips

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LAS VEGAS, NV (The Spread) - The NFL playoffs are here and this is the time where most handicappers tend to fail because they look at the regular season as a barometer.

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When handicapping the NFL playoffs, the key is understanding that this is a different animal than the regular season. Certain teams are built to play in January and others will falter. Let's take a look at some of key factors for successful handicapping in the playoffs.

Defense wins championships. If you take a look at the top teams in the league  going into the playoffs, most of them are in the top 10 in defense. Seattle,  Carolina, Cincinnati, New Orleans and San Francisco are the top five teams in  fewest yards allowed per game and they are in postseason. Denver sits at 19th,  San Diego at 23rd,  Kansas City at 24th and Green Bay at  25th although the Chiefs allow just 19.1 points per game. The rules help  the offense but those defenses at the top of the league seem to manage just  fine. A team like Kansas City is unique because they have two great pass  rushers in Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, so they rely more on getting to the  quarterback and forcing turnovers, then they do in just stopping teams  cold.

Injuries may play a factor. If Dallas made the playoffs, they certainly would  have been an underdog with Kyle Orton at quarterback. Check the injury reports  and make sure key players were not hurt in the season finale. Keep checking  the practice report during the week to make sure key starters are playing. If  they are not, that could alter a team's game plan. Green Bay is in the  playoffs because Aaron Rodgers returned, but can they sustain a long run  without their best linebacker, Clay Matthews, who has a thumb injury. In  10 games without Matthews, opposing quarterbacks have thrown for 2,557 yards  and 18 touchdowns with nine picks. The Packers average two sacks per game  without Matthews. But don't get too caught up in nagging injuries,  because a player that sits out a game in October due to a sprain, will play  when it matters in January. Some of them may have sat out the finale to  prepare for this game so make sure you are caught up with all the  situations.

The key is finding mismatches. A good running team that faces a bad run defense  normally will have a huge advantage. A perfect example of this is Green Bay  has the 25th-ranked rushing defense and they will host San Francisco, who has  the third-ranked rushing offense. You might find a team that is weak on pass  defense against a team that has a strong passing team. Denver is certainly one  of those teams that will be tough to stop through the air, but if they meet up  with a great secondary, they might have issues.

Now that you have fewer games to check out, you should have an easier time handicapping if you spend your free time researching each matchup. Focus on these three tips and you'll have an easier time winning this postseason.

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