NFL Playoffs Preview and Latest Odds – The Wildcard Round

nfl-playoffsIf you’re a fan of the National Football League, you don’t get your gifts until AFTER Christmas. Even if you don’t celebrate the holiday, you can still celebrate the start of the NFL playoffs – it truly is “the most wonderful time of the year.” When you combine that with the annual slate of college bowl games and UFC’s tradition of holding a big PPV right around New Year’s (and we’ve got a HUGE fight this weekend in Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier) it’s the kind of hard hitting sports smorgasbord you can only dream about. Get your popcorn, your chips, your beer and some dip – it’s time to have some fun! So who are the favorites in the NFL on Saturday and Sunday? We have four games in the wildcard round on tap, and the first one kicks off at 4:35 PM ET between the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers. The Cardinals may only be 5th best in the NFC and 2nd best in their own division, but with an 11-5 record (their best since 1975) they’ve got a lot to be happy about. The bad news is that starter Drew Stanton is not ready to return, so it’s up to backup QB Ryan Lindley to carry them to the next round. Still it may be surprising that the Panthers are a -310 favorite on the money line (Cardinals +255) given their 7-8-1 record. Credit that to Cam Newton getting hot at the right time – winning all four of their games in December. I think the book has this one right. Things are much closer between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers at 8:15 PM ET, which isn’t surprising given these AFC teams are 10-6 and 11-5 respectively. The Steelers are a -170 favorite on the money line (Ravens +150) which makes it almost too close to call. Pittsburgh is overloaded with pro bowl talent though, from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to running back Le’Veon Bell to wide receiver Antonio Brown – just to name a few. Unfortunately for them Bell is out for this game due to an injury – Josh Harris steps in. Most of the Ravens selections for the pro bowl are on defense, and they have to hope their vaunted D can shut the Steelers down. The first game on Sunday is also a close spread on the line, as the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts kick off at 1 PM, with the Colts -185 on the line (Bengals +160). The Colts have to be brimming with confidence after going undefeated in the AFC South, and Andrew Luck breaking single season records once held by Peyton Manning. Confidence may be shaken for the Bengals as well after losing to the Steelers 27-17 in their season finale, but “The Red Rifle” Andy Dalton will put that weight on his back and try to beat the odds. Our final playoff game this weekend at 4:40 PM ET pits the Detroit Lions against the Dallas Cowboys. After their best December in YEARS, Tony Romo and company are a strong -300 favorite, but don’t count the +250 Lions out. They’re playing at home, they’re in the playoffs for the first time in three years, and Matthew Stafford will be highly motivated after a disappointing season-ending loss to the Green Bay Packers. I think this dog could be a parlay play. All previews are for entertainment purposes only – if you do place a bet please gamble only what you can afford.

Written by Stevie J

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