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Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts
Date and Time: Saturday, 1/4/13 at 4:35pm on NBC
Game Line: Indianapolis Colts -2.5 (from G)
Saturday NFL Playoffs Wild Card Football Analysis: The Indianapolis Colts are playing their best football at the right time of the season while the Kansas City Chiefs are as healthy as they have been in weeks. The last few Super Bowl winners have gotten hot late in the season while not being one of the best teams all year and this Colts team fits that mold. They will meet for the second time in three weeks Saturday at Indianapolis in their NFC wild card game. The Colts have won three straight while allowing 20 points all together including a 23-7 win against Kansas City. A 30-10 win over Jacksonville ended Indianapolis’ regular season on a high note. Andrew Luck was efficient as he has been and they will need him to continue to have success if they’re going to make a playoff run. The Chiefs have lost two in a row but they sat many players in week 17 and will have Dwayne Bowe, Justin Houston and Brandon Albert back for this game as they try to end a seven game playoff losing streak. However, the status of linebacker Tamba Hali is up in the air and tackle Eric Fisher will miss the game with a strained groin. Kansas City missed out on the AFC West title and a first round bye with its late season struggles, though some of its key players had a designed week off in Sunday’s 27-24 loss at San Diego. Quarterback Alex Smith was among them. Prior to the loss to the Colts, Smith had thrown seven TDs without an interception in wins at Washington and Oakland. The Chiefs went 6-1 on the road with Smith at quarterback this year, and he threw 11 TDs and one pick in those games. Kansas City’s defense had a stronger start, leading the Chiefs to a 9-0 start before injuries and inconsistency settled in as the team lost five of its last seven. It allowed 12.3 points per game in its first nine and 27.7 in the last seven. These two teams are trending in very different directions right now and it is hard not to take the home team, given the situation.
Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts Free NFL Picks: Indianapolis Colts -2.5 and under 46.5
Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts Game Prediction: 27-17 Indianapolis Colts
What to expect in this NFL Playoff Football match up: The Kansas City Chiefs made a lot of people money this season by limiting their turnovers and playing very strong on defense, but that has not been the case over the last month, while the Colts have been playing their best football late in the season. The Colts have won three in a row, while the Chiefs have lost three in a row and considering the Colts just beat the Chiefs a few weeks ago and not much has changed, it is hard not to pick the home team to advance in this one.
New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles
Date and Time: Saturday, 1/4/13 at 8:10pm on NBC
Game Line: Philadelphia Eagles -2.5 (from JustBet)
Saturday NFL Playoffs Wild Card Football Analysis: Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles grew up idolizing Drew Brees and followed in his footsteps when he played quarterback at the same high school in Texas. Brees has won a Super Bowl but Foles will be playing in his first playoff game Saturday night when the Philadelphia Eagles meet a New Orleans Saints team that will be looking to win a road playoff game for the first time in franchise history. Foles, who is 10 years younger than Brees, led the NFC East champion Eagles to the playoffs for the first time since the 2010 season. The second year quarterback went 8-2 as the starter and appeared in 13 games, throwing 27 touchdowns to just two interceptions. His 0.6 interception percentage led the league among quarterbacks who played in more than half of their team’s games. Playing in first-year coach Chip Kelly’s up tempo offense, Foles was terrific down the stretch. He completed 74.5 percent of his passes over the final two weeks of the season and passed for 263 yards and two touchdowns in the finale Sunday night as Philadelphia won 24-22 in Dallas to clinch the division title. The Eagles are also lead by LeSean McCoy who topped the NFL with 1,607 rushing yards while catching 52 passes. Those threats made Philadelphia’s offense difficult for opponents to figure out. The team led the NFC with 247 plays of 10 or more yards. However, the Eagles will be in for a tough test against a Saints defense that was efficient in limiting big plays, allowing only five touchdowns of 20 or more yards to rank second in the conference. The biggest issue for the Saints, is its troubles away from New Orleans. The Saints went 8-0 while averaging 34.0 points at home compared to 3-5 while scoring 17.8 per game on the road. The Saints lost their final three road games, getting outscored 78-36, and are 0-5 all-time in playoff contests away from home.
New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles Free NFL Picks: Philadelphia Eagles -2.5 and under 54
New Orelans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles Game Prediction: 31-21 Philadelphia Eagles
What to expect in this NFL Playoff Football match up: We would pick the Saints to win a road playoff game against any other team playing this weekend, but the Eagles offense is a very bad match up for the Saints. They can score with Drew Brees, they play outside in the cold, they have success at home and their defense is much better on their home field. The Saints haven’t covered a spread on the road since week three and there’s no reason to think they will do it against one of the highest scoring offenses in the league, especially outside in the cold.
Sunday’s AFC Wildcard Game Picks: San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals
Date and Time: Sunday, 1/5/13 at 1:05pm on CBS
Game Line: Cincinnati Bengals -7 (from JustBet)
Sunday NFL Playoffs Wild Card Football Analysis: The San Diego Chargers are back in the post season after a three year drought but that is nothing compared to what the Cincinnati Bengals are going through. The AFC North champion Bengals seek to end their 23 year drought without a postseason win Sunday when they host the surging Chargers. San Diego won four straight division titles between 2006-09, going 3-4 in the playoffs with Rivers in those years. The Chargers finished second each of the three previous seasons to miss the playoffs, but four straight victories to close the regular season for a third-place finish was good enough in 2013 to finally return. The Bengals will be making their fourth playoff appearance in five seasons and third in as many seasons with Andy Dalton at quarterback. Dalton hasn’t been up to par in losses to Houston in each of the last two postseasons, throwing four interceptions with no touchdowns while getting sacked six times. More is expected now that Dalton finished third in the league with 33 touchdown passes, one more than Rivers. There are still concerns about his play after last Sunday’s 34-17 win over Baltimore in which he threw for 281 yards and two scores but was also picked off a career worst four times. Rivers threw for nine touchdowns and 845 yards with a 109.8 passer rating over the Chargers’ four-game win streak to close the regular season. That run culminated with last Sunday’s wild 27-24 overtime home win over the Chiefs, who missed a field goal at the end of regulation that would have eliminated San Diego. The Bengals are 8-0 at home, where they have amassed 24 sacks while limiting opposing quarterbacks to a 60.6 rating with nine touchdowns to 15 interceptions. There isn’t an expert or NFL handicapper who gives the Chargers a chance to cover in this game, which means they will keep it close with a great chance for an outright win on the road.
San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts Free NFL Picks: San Diego +7 and over 46.5
San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts Game Prediction: 28-27 San Diego
What to expect in this NFL Playoff Football match up: The Chargers will come to this game well prepared and their dink and dunk short passing attack will have some success against the Bengals linebacking core. Andy Dalton has proven he is not a quarterback who can win important games in the playoffs while Philip Rivers has been there and done that. Cincinnati is the most publicly bet side on Wild Card Weekend and that alone gives the Chargers a great chance to cover or even win the game.
Sunday’s NFC Wildcard Game Picks: San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers
Date and Time: Sunday, 1/5/13 at 4:40pm on FOX
Game Line: San Francisco -2.5 (from JustBet)
Sunday NFL Playoffs Wild Card Football Analysis: While the return of Aaron Rodgers has given the Green Bay Packers offense added confidence, the challenge will fall on their defense to contain Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco offense. That’s something the unit has failed to do against the dual-threat quarterback, who hopes to lead the defending NFC champions to their seventh straight victory Sunday in a wild-card game at Lambeau Field. Although Rogers denied rust was a factor after missing seven games with a broken collarbone, Rodgers struggled in the first half Sunday, going 14 of 22 for 145 yards with two interceptions at Chicago. Despite going 0-4-1 during a stretch in which Rodgers was injured, the Packers rallied to win three of their last four to claim a third straight NFC North title. Green Bay, though, has struggled defensively over the past nine weeks, ranking 29th with 30.0 points, 30th with 404.2 total yards and 31st with 157.2 rushing yards allowed per game over that span. Making matters worse, star line backer Clay Matthews will not play after breaking his thumb for the second time this season. Meanwhile, Kaepernick is playing well heading into this meeting, completing 61.8 percent of his attempts for 1,395 yards with 10 TDs and one interception during San Francisco’s current six game winning streak. He’s proved to be a nightmare matchup for McCarthy’s defense, accounting for 895 total yards and seven touchdowns in two career starts against the Packers. He ran for a quarterback record 181 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-31 victory over Green Bay in an NFC divisional playoff game last season. Kaepernick then threw for a career high 412 yards and three scores to lead the to a 34-28 home win over the Packers in the season opener this year. Running back Frank Gore was limited to a season low 14 yards on 13 carries in a 23-20 win at Arizona on Sunday, but he could play a prominent role against Green Bay’s poor run defense. He’s rushed for an average of 91.7 yards while scoring in each of his last three meetings with the Packers. The 49ers have proven to be a bad matchup for the Packers and even outside in the cold, they have an advantage on both sides of the ball and should find a way to get a win on the road.
San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers Free NFL Picks: San Francisco -2.5 and over 46
San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers Game Prediction: 29-24 San Francisco
What to expect in this NFL Playoff Football match up: The San Francisco running game will carry them from start to finish. Between Frank Gore and Colin Kaepernick, their team will have 200+ rushing yards and keep Aaron Rodgers and their dynamic offense off the field in the freezing cold. When the high temperature is in the single digits the advantage goes to the team that can run the ball and play defense and that is the 49ers. They have also proven they have Green Bay’s number over the last few seasons and this game shouldn’t be any different.