The NFL’s second season, its real season, makes its return on Saturday, with a full slate of wild card round games. There will be no shortage of drama and excitement, with some excellent first-round matchups.
Let’s get right into those, with this week’s betting lines. As always, these lines are brought to you from Bovada.lv.
Cincinnati at Houston -4.5
The Texans are absolutely reeling coming into the playoffs. Gary Kubiak‘s bunch, once seemingly locked into the No. 1 seed, now finds itself playing in the first weekend of the playoffs. Despite that enormous free fall over the last month of the regular season, they’re still the favorites in their matchup against the Bengals. This is a rematch of wild card round game last year, which the Texans won handily 31-10, playing with T.J. Yates as their quarterback in place of the injured Matt Schaub.
Minnesota at Green Bay -9
The Vikings and Packers will do battle for the second time in as many weeks in Saturday’s nightcap. The Vikings were able to withstand a late charge from Aaron Rodgers and the Pack on Sunday in Minnesota, with Adrian Peterson helping to set up a Blair Walsh game-winning field goal at the gun. Peterson, of course, is a pretty considerable X-factor in this game. He has run for 409 yards in two games against the Packers this season, with the two teams splitting those games. This playoff matchup will be in the Packers’ house, where Green Bay won 23-14 in Week 13, despite 210 yards on the ground from Peterson.
Indianapolis at Baltimore -6.5
The Ravens, like the Texans, were seen as the cream of the AFC’s crop earlier in the season, but also like the Texans, they find themselves playing in the first round. They’ve got a difficult draw, too, with the upstart Indianapolis Colts heading back to Baltimore. On paper, the Colts don’t look like much of anything, but they have obviously been galvanized by their head coach Chuck Pagano, who incredibly returned to the sidelines in Week 17 after kicking leukemia in the face. The Ravens have been up and down all year, but look no further than their Week 16 blowout of the New York Giants for proof of how dangerous they can be. Baltimore also rested a handful of its starters in Week 17, something that was desperately needed given the veteran club’s banged-up roster.
Seattle -3 at Washington
This has the potential to be the game of the weekend. Sunday’s Seahawks-Redskins matchup not only pits two teams with color-based, compound-worded nicknames, it also brings us a showdown between Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III. While Griffin (and Andrew Luck) have received most of the rookie hype this season, Wilson has arguably been the best of the three rookie quarterbacks. He tied Peyton Manning‘s record for touchdown passes by a rookie, leading the Seahawks to a playoffs appearance. He’ll have his work cut out for him on Sunday, however, when he and Seattle are force to take their act on the road. That’s been a problem this season, too, with Seattle going just 3-5 away from CenturyLink Field. Meanwhile, the Redskins are arguably the hottest team in football, winning seven straight heading into the playoffs.