Opening Lines for Wild-Card Weekend are Out

Can Foles carry the Eagles past the Saints in their Wild-Card match-up?

After a crazy week 17 in the National Football League the 2013 playoffs are finally set. Denver and New England have the week off in the AFC while Seattle and Carolina will enjoy the extra rest in the NFC. The Broncos and Seahawks have home-field advantage in their respective conferences. Without further ado, here’s a look at the opening lines for this coming weekend’s Wild-Card games.

Kansas City (+2.5) at Indianapolis – A couple of weeks back, the Colts went into Kansas City and thumped the Chiefs 23-7. They sacked Alex Smith five times and disrupted his passing all day. The Colts held the ball for 38 minutes while Donald Brown and Trent Richardson combined for 140 yards rushing. Now the scene shifts to Indianapolis where the Chiefs have to be thinking about the importance of getting out early to take the crowd out of the game.

KC was impressive in their loss to San Diego yesterday despite playing almost all reserves. Will the rest benefit the starters or will they be rusty? For the Colts the gameplan will be simple; run the ball and set up Andrew Luck with play-action. Defensively, it will continue to be about disrupting Alex Smith. Right now, I like the Colts to cover.

New Orleans (+2.5) at Philadelphia – The Eagles did what many thought they would do in defeating the Cowboys last night to claim the NFC East crown. I have to think most thought it would be a little easier than 22-20 though with Tony Romo not playing. Not surprisingly, the Saints took care of business at home over Tampa Bay to claim the final wild-card spot and now will travel to Philly.

This might be the most interesting game of the weekend because we already know Drew Brees is not nearly the same quarterback outside that he is inside. The real match-up however could be Rob Ryan’s attacking defense against Nick Foles. Can the young signal-caller make the right adjustments to beat the blitz? The X-factor in this one will probably be LeSean McCoy though who I expect to have a big game. Take the Eagles to cover.

Can Dalton keep his hot streak at home going against San Diego?

San Diego (+7) at Cincinnati – On paper, this one looks all too easy doesn’t it? The Chargers will travel across the country to play a 10am Pacific Time game against a Bengals’ team that hasn’t lost at home and averages about 40 points per game in Paul Brown Stadium. The Chargers did show some resiliency yesterday in coming back from ten points down in the fourth quarter albeit against reserves of the Chiefs.

Back on December first, these two played a very competitive game in San Diego that saw the Bengals win 17-10. Cincy rode the running of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and an n opportunistic defense in the victory. At first thought, I expect things to be similar yet it’s hard to argue with what the Bengals do at home. Right now I expect the Bengals to cover.

San Francisco (-2.5) at Green Bay – These two hook up again in the playoffs but this time the scene shifts to Lambeau Field in Green Bay. The two teams opened the 2013 season at San Francisco where the Niners won a 34-28 game that was back and forth throughout. The Packers’ defense surrendered almost 500 yards of offense including over 400 yards passing to Colin Kaepernick.

Despite the shift in locale, what doesn’t change is a weak Packers’ defense. I’m not at all surprised that San Francisco enters as the only road favorite of the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers will have to carry the Packers to a shootout win if they have any chance but right now I like the Niners giving the 2.5 points.