2015 NFL Power Rankings Week 8

tom-bradyThere’s not much change at the top this week, with New England remaining number one again. Overall, there are still five unbeatens, though this is guaranteed to change when the Broncos and Packers meet on Sunday. See where everybody ranks in our NFL Week 8 power rankings. Also, check out our Week 7 rankings here.

1. New England Patriots (6-0); beat NY Jets 30-23, same spot – The AFC East looked to be a tough division this year…until the Patriots blew it wide open.

2. Green Bay Packers (6-0); bye week, same spot – Much is made about Aaron Rodgers and the offense. But did you know that Green Bay’s defense is giving up an NFL-best 16.8 PPG?

3. Cincinnati Bengals (6-0); bye week, same spot – This seems like a new Andy Dalton; but he has just a 32.9 career-QBR against his next two opponents, Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

4. Denver Broncos (6-0); bye week, same spot – Denver will face off against Green Bay in what’s sure to be the biggest game of the week.

5. Carolina Panthers (6-0); beat Philadelphia 27-16, same spot – While Cam Newton has the lowest QBR of his career up to this point, this is also his best start record-wise.

chris-johnson-cardinals6. Arizona Cardinals (5-2); beat Baltimore 26-18, same spot – Chris Johnson (30) has had a career resurgence, as he’s second in rushing with 567 yards.

7. Atlanta Falcons (6-1); beat Tennessee 10-7, up 1 spot – It wasn’t a pretty win, but Atlanta was at least able to keep pace with Carolina in the NFC South race.

8. New York Jets (4-2); lost to New England 30-23, up 1 spot – The key for the Jets: run the ball. They’ve rushed for 170+ yards in all four of their wins.

9. Seattle Seahawks (3-4); beat San Francisco 20-3, up 4 spots – Seattle isn’t out of it yet! They play the banged-up Cowboys in Dallas, then three straight home games.

10. Minnesota Vikings (4-2); beat Detroit Lions 28-19, up 4 spots – Minnesota is truly one of the league’s surprise teams. And their defense is the anchor, giving up just 17.0 PPG.

ben-roethlisberger-ravens11. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3); lost to Kansas City 23-13, down 2 spots  – Pittsburgh split four games in Big Ben’s absence. Now they have a tough road ahead to the playoffs.

12. New York Giants (4-3); beat Dallas Cowboys 27-20, up 3 spots – It’s almost a wonder that New York isn’t even better when considering their +10 turnover differential.

13. St. Louis Rams (3-3); beat Cleveland 24-6, up 4 spots – Todd Gurley now has three straight games with 150+ yards from scrimmage; he’s the first Rams player to do this since Marshall Faulk in 2002.

14. Miami Dolphins (3-3); beat Houston 44-26, up 6 spots – Miami took care of business the last two games; but they have a road game against New England coming up.

15. New Orleans Saints (3-4); beat Indianapolis 27-21, up 4 spots – After starting 0-3, New Orleans has put themselves back within striking distance of a postseason berth.

16. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4); lost to Carolina 27-16, down 6 spots  – Sam Bradford has not played well, turning the ball over 11 times and featuring a league-low 29.6 QBR.

17. Indianapolis Colts (3-4); lost to New Orleans 27-21, down 5 spots – The road only gets worse from here with Carolina, Denver and Atlanta coming up on the schedule.

amari-cooper-raiders18. Oakland Raiders (2-3); beat San Diego 37-29, up 7 spots – Amari Cooper is now the first rookie since Mike Ditka (1961) to have 100-yard receiving performances in his first six games.

19. Buffalo Bills (3-4); lost to Jacksonville 34-31, down 8 spots – The dropoff from Tyrod Taylor to EJ Manuel has been immense for Buffalo.

20. Dallas Cowboys (2-4); lost to NY Giants 27-20, down 4 spots – First the Greg Hardy debacle, now the Joseph Randle controversy…

21. Kansas City Chiefs (2-5); beat Pittsburgh 23-13, up 6 spots – The Chiefs (+1) and Eagles (+4) are the only teams with positive turnover differentials that are under .500.

22. Washington Redskins (3-4); beat Tampa Bay 31-30, up 4 spots – Kirk Cousins didn’t throw an interception for the third game this season, and the Redskins won for the third time in as many games.

23. San Diego Chargers (2-5); beat Oakland 37-29, down 5 spots – Drafting Melvin Gordon in the first round has done little to change San Diego’s passing ways. Philip Rivers has passed 123 times in the last 2 games.

24. Chicago Bears (2-4); bye week, down 1 spot – One sign that Matt Forte is carrying this team: he’s gained 33.4% of the team’s yards, which is highest in the NFL.

25. Cleveland Browns (2-5); lost to St. Louis 24-6, down 4 spots – Cleveland has only scored a TD in 35% of their red-zone trips this year, second worst in the NFL.

colin-kaepernick26. San Francisco (2-5); lost to Seattle 20-3, down 2 spots – When the Niners lose, they lose big! They now have four losses by 14+ points, two more than any other team.

27. Houston Texans (2-5); lost to Miami 44-26, down 1 spot – Houston has been battered in the first three quarters of games, giving up 101 total points.

28. Detroit Lions (1-6); lost to Minnesota 28-19, down 6 spots – Detroit has held an 11-point lead or better and still lost twice this season; the rest of the NFL is 73-9 in these situations.

29. Baltimore Ravens (1-6); lost to Ariozna 26-18, same spot – Baltimore has given up 188 points in their first seven games, worst since 1996, when they allowed 196 points.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-5); beat Buffalo 34-31, up 2 spots – Even with a 2-5 record, Jacksonville is off to their best start since 2011.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4); bye week, down 1 spot – The defense is giving up a league-worst 29.8 PPG.

32. Tennessee Titans (1-5); lost to Atlanta 10-7, down 1 spot – This loss drops the Titans to 1-15 over the past 16 games, with their lone win being against Tampa Bay.

Jordy Nelson tears ACL – Out for Season

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Detroit LionsThe Green Bay Packers are heavily favored to win the NFC North title in 2015. However, it will now be a little tougher for them to do so after learning that Jordy Nelson has a torn ACL and will miss the entire season.

The wide receiver made a catch in a preseason game with Pittsburgh, planted, then went to turn, before falling down untouched. The Packers feared the worst, and it appears that their fears are confirmed after the official MRI came back today.

Nelson is coming off a career year in 2014, where he caught 98 passes for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns. Three of the past four seasons have seen the former Kansas State product tally 1,263 receiving yards or more, making him a critical part of Green Bay’s offense. Nelson’s production is a big reason why quarterback Aaron Rodgers won the MVP award last season.

Now the big question will be who can fill in for some of Nelson’s lost production. Randall Cobb might see an even bigger uptick in production, if that’s possible. Last year he caught 91 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 TDs, giving the Packers an incredible 1-2 punch.

Second-year receiver Davante Adams will no doubt have a larger role in the offense. Adams’ role continued to grow throughout last season, and he ended with 38 catches for 446 yards and three touchdowns. He’ll no doubt have an opportunity to expand these numbers in the 2015 NFL season.

Tight end Richard Rodriguez and running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks could have prominent roles in the passing game as well to help offset Nelson’s loss.

jordy-nelsonOne other option would be bringing in a free agent, although general manager Ted Thompson isn’t a big player on the free-agent market. If Thompson does look around for free agents, he might be interested in Reggie Wayne, who most recently visited the New England Patriots.

One thing is for sure, though: at this point, there’s nobody in the league whom Green Bay could just pick up that would make up for losing Nelson. The only saving grace is that they still have Rodgers at quarterback and a very good offensive line.

As for Rodgers, he will attempt to pick up where he left off after throwing for 4,381 yards, 38 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. Rodgers added 269 rushing yards and two more scores. Duplicating this feat and winning the MVP award again may prove more difficult, especially the miraculous feat of throwing just 5 INT’s on 520 pass attempts.

2015 NFC Championship Betting

green-bay-vs-seattle-bettingThere were few surprises on the NFC side of the bracket in the 2015 NFL Playoffs. The No. 1 and 2 seeds advanced, with Seattle beating Carolina 31-17 and Green Bay topping Dallas 26-21. As for the latter, the Packers had a much tougher test than Seattle. And it took a controversial no-catch call to seal their victory. Nevertheless, Green Bay survives and moves on to the NFC title game.

The Packers boast the likely MVP in quarterback Aaron Rodgers and one of the NFL’s best offenses. But they are certainly facing a handicap here in that they’ll be playing away from the friendly confines of Lambeau Field. With their win over Dallas, the Packers ended the season with a 9-0 record at home. But now they face a Seattle team that’s won their last five games at CenturyLink Stadium by at least 10 points each.

As for Seattle, they are within two victories of winning their second-straight Super Bowl title. Recent history shows that it’s tough enough to make the big game two years in a row, let alone win it. But based on the fact that they’ve won seven straight games and their defense looks better than ever, it’s hard to see anybody but Seattle winning right now. Our current betting line at GTBets.eu reflects this:

Green Bay (-110)
Seattle -7 (-110)

Considering everything that we just discussed, it’s certainly understandable that Seattle is a touchdown favorite here. They handily won in these two teams’ only matchup of the season – a 36-16 stomping in the regular-season opener. Of course, that was nearly five months ago and a lot can happen in that time span.

Besides having time to improve their team, another thing that Green Bay has going for them is history. The last seven NFC title games have been decided by 7 points or less. Seeing as how Green Bay features a pretty complete team, it’s not hard to see them keeping this one close – no matter how good Seattle may be. Going further, we figure this will be a game that comes down to a field goal or two.

Final Score Prediction: Seattle wins 27-24 

NFL Power Rankings for Week 8 (Oct. 24, 2014)

peyton-manning1. Denver Broncos (6-1); beat San Diego 35-21 (Thursday), retains same ranking – Denver took care of business in a showdown between two of the league’s top teams, once again solidifying their top ranking.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (5-1); bye week, moves up two spots – Everybody looks at this team as an offensive unit first. However, their special teams are really doing the job with seven TDs this year.

3. Dallas Cowboys (6-1); beat NY Giants 31-21, moves up six spots – DeMarco Murray is now the only running back in NFL history to start the season with seven 100-yard rushing efforts. Expect #8 against Oakland this weekend.

4. San Diego Chargers (5-2); lost to Denver 35-21 (Thursday), drops two spots – A loss at Denver certainly doesn’t put a grim prospect on the rest of a bright season.

carson-palmer-arizona5. Arizona Cardinals (5-1); beat Oakland 24-13, moves up one spot – Arizona is off to their best start since 1976 while Carson Palmer finally looks to have moved past his nagging shoulder problem.

6. Indianapolis Colts (5-2); beat Cincinnati 27-0, moves up one spot – The Indy defense has destroyed teams on third down, holding them to a 16% conversion rate and a QBR of 3.

7. San Francisco 49ers (4-3); lost to Denver 42-17, drops three spots – Injuries have decimated the Niners defense, and they had no shot against Denver’s outstanding offense.

8. New England Patriots (4-2); beat NY Jets 27-25, retains same ranking – Tom Brady is 3-0 against the Bears in his career, and he’d like to keep that streak going this Sunday.

9. Green Bay Packers (5-2); beat Carolina 38-17, moves up one spot – Aaron Rodgers has thrown for 3 TD’s and no interceptions in four straight games, a historical mark he shares with Brady.

10. Seattle Seahawks (3-3); lost to St. Louis 28-26, drops six spots – The Seattle defensive pressure just isn’t what it was last season, and they’ve lost two straight games.

11. Detroit Lions (5-2); beat New Orleans 24-23, moves up one spot – Detroit finally found itself in the last few minutes against the Saints. The win helps them keep pace with Green Bay for the NFC North lead.

12. Baltimore Ravens (5-2); beat Atlanta 29-7, moves up one spot – Baltimore just keeps blowing teams out, as their league-leading 12.7 points margin per game stat suggests.

aj-green-football13. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2-1); lost to Indianapolis 27-0, drops two spots – How much difference does A.J. Green make on offense? Cincinnati failed to get a first down on their first eight drives.

14. Kansas City Chiefs (3-3); beat San Diego 23-20, moves up six spots – We were hard on the Chiefs early in the season. But they definitely look to move up with upcoming games against the Rams (2-4) and Jets (1-6).

15. Miami Dolphins (3-3); beat Chicago 27-14, moves up three spots – Ryan Tannehill has had some of the best games of his career lately. He looks to continue the good times against the Jaguars’ league-worst pass defense.

16. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3); beat Houston 30-23, NR – Last Monday’s game against Houston got off to a rough start for Pittsburgh. However, they scored 3 TD’s in under two minutes to change everything.

anthony-dixon-bills17. Buffalo Bills (4-3); beat Minnesota 17-16, moves up two spots – The record looks good, but Buffalo will have some struggles replacing the injured Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller.

18. Chicago Bears (3-4); lost to Miami 27-14, drops five spots – A painful home loss to the Dolphins was followed by a locker room shouting match. Is it too late for the Bears?

19. Carolina Panthers (3-3-1); lost to Green Bay 38-17, drops four spots – Carolina has given up 24 touchdowns this year – more than any other team. Furthermore, it’s three more than they surrendered all of last season.

20. Cleveland Browns (3-3); lost to Jacksonville 24-6, drops three spots – At least Cleveland faces Oakland (0-6) to try and bounce back from losing to another one of the league’s worst teams.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 5 (Oct. 2nd, 2014)

andre-ellington-cardinalsThe first bye week of the season saw our top three teams taking breaks. So it’s little surprise that the Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals are still firmly planted at the top after their inactivity. But there are plenty of other big changes in our power rankings folllowing a week of upsets. That said, let’s look at who’s moving up and down as we enter Week 5 of the 2014 NFL season.

1. Denver Broncos (2-1); bye week, retains same ranking – Denver faces another tough test this week with the Arizona Cardinals visiting. However, we don’t expect this to be an overly difficult game for the Broncos for two reasons: 1) They’re playing at home, and 2) Arizona QB Carson Palmer seems doubtful to play because of the “misfiring” nerve in his shoulder.

2. Seattle Seahawks (2-1); bye week, retains same ranking – As if Seattle wasn’t already expected to win against the Redskins this week, they get a shaky Kirk Cousins coming off a 4-interception game. The Seahawks defense should feast in this one since they can both put major pressure on opposing QB’s and have excellent corners.

3. Cincinnati Bengals (3-0); bye week, retains same ranking – Are the New England Patriots really as hopeless as they’ve seemed over the past two weeks? The Bengals are hoping so as they visit Foxborough this Sunday while trying to keep their unbeaten record intact. Even if they survive the Patriots, though, they’ll continue the gauntlet by facing the Panthers, Colts and Ravens after that.

4. Arizona Cardinals (3-0); bye week, moves up two spots – Arizona jumps into the upper echelon courtesy of teams above them losing. Along with Cincinnati, the Cardinals are the only undefeated squad left in the NFL. However, it’s difficult to see this remaining the case as they travel to Denver with backup Drew Stanton likely to start again. He fared really well against San Francisco, though, so it’s not inconceivable for Arizona to pull of the road upset.

philip-rivers5. San Diego Chargers (3-1); beat Jacksonville Jaguars 33-14, moves up three spots – We’re not that impressed with a blowout win over the Jaguars. However, San Diego has been very impressive throughout the season – including being the only team to beat Seattle – so they belong in the top 5. The injuries at running back are a definite concern moving forward, but Philip Rivers seems to keep getting it done, and the defense has far exceeded expectations.

6. San Francisco 49ers (2-2); beat Philadelphia Eagles 26-21, moves up three spots – San Francisco got their rushing attack going again, piling up 218 yards – 119 of them coming from Frank Gore. The defense also played well, picking Nick Foles off twice en rout to a second-half comeback. The latter is key because the Niners had been getting dominated in the second half and were finally able to reverse this trend.

7. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1); lost to San Francisco 49ers, drops three spots – The Eagles have been flirting with a loss in every game they’ve played, falling behind early, only to come storming back. But this time, they went up early and faltered in the second half. They should easily win the NFC East, but Nick Foles’ inconsistency will be this team’s Achilles tendon.

8. Indianapolis Colts (2-2); beat Tennessee Titans 41-17, moves up three spots – It’s hard to gauge where Indianapolis is after two blowouts of lower-tier teams. However, they did play both Denver and Philadelphia tough in losses, adding legitimacy to their top-10 ranking. Assuming the Colts can eventually surround Andrew Luck with some real weapons, this team will be contending for the Super Bowl.

9. Detroit Lions (3-1); beat New York Jets 24-17, moves up seven spots – The fact that Calvin Johnson had just 16 receiving yards and this team won on the road shows that the Lions have truly become complete. This is backed up by the fact that Detroit was previously 0-6 when Johnson had 20 or fewer yards. With great players on both sides of the ball, they could continue moving up.

10. Baltimore Ravens (3-1); beat Carolina Panthers 38-10, moves up four spots – As expected, Steve Smith played like a man possessed against his old team – posting 139 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Not bad for a 35-year-old! Our main question here, though, is if Justin Forsett will really be the answer at running back.

aaron-rodgers-bet-211. Green Bay Packers (2-2); beat Chicago Bears 38-17, moves up two spots – One week after putting up a measly 7 points against Detroit, the Packers exploded for 38 points on the strength of Aaron Rodgers’ 302 passing yards and four TD throws. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb also turned in excellent performances with multi-touchdown games.

12. New England Patriots (2-2); lost to Kansas City 41-14, drops seven spots – It’s hard to give up on the New England Patriots four games into the season. But things are looking pretty bad right now – especially with regard to Tom Brady. The 37-year-old QB has one of the league’s worst passer ratings, promoting talk of if he’s washed up.

13. Dallas Cowboys (3-1); beat New Orleans Saints 38-17, moves up seven spots – Nobody has defied preseason expectations quite like the Cowboys have. First off, the defense was SUPPOSED to be dreadful after losing three top players from a unit that gave up the third-most yardage in league history. Secondly, DeMarco Murray has went from an oft-injured tease to an MVP candidate. His latest claim for this title: 149 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

jay-cutler-injury14. Chicago Bears (2-2); lost to Green Bay Packers 38-17, drops seven spots – We’re beginning to see an 8-8 season ahead of the wildly inconsistent Chicago Bears. As Jay Cutler goes, so too does his team. And considering his 7-for-13, two-interception performance in the second half, it’s little surprise that a close game turned into a rout.

15. Kansas City Chiefs (2-2); beat New England Patriots 41-14, moves up three spots – We’re still not sure how seriously to take the Chiefs this season, given that they don’t have the same cupcake schedule as last year. But over the past two games, they’ve looked like future Super Bowl champs with blowouts of Miami and New England.

16. New Orleans Saints (1-3); lost to Dallas Cowboys 38-17, drops eight spots – One stat that’s been thrown out quite often regarding the Saints is that less than 15% of 1-3 teams make the playoffs. If there’s a 1-3 team that has a shot at defying the odds, it’s definitely New Orleans. However, they’ve got to be more than just a team that can throw the ball.

17. Carolina Panthers (2-2); lost to Baltimore Ravens 38-10, drops four spots – Carolina continues their tumble after a second-straight terrible outing. And Cam Newton watched the end of another game from the bench. A huge reason why everything is going wrong for the Panthers is that they haven’t forced a turnover in the past two games. That’s quite a turnaround from the six they forced in their first two contests.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2); lost to Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-24, drops three spots – The Steelers are still in shock after giving this game away in the fourth quarter, where they were outscored 10-0. What’s amazing about the result is that Ben Roethlisberger threw for 314 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions, which is usually a recipe for a win.

ryan-tannehill19. Miami Dolphins (2-2); lost to Kansas City 38-14, moves up two spots – The Raiders’ strategy was to keep bringing pressure against Ryan Tannehill. But this time, the third-year QB responded by going 10-for-15 with 145 yards and a TD on throws where he was pressured. With the way that everybody is playing in the AFC East, the division is still wide open if Miami can take advantage.

20. Buffalo Bills (2-2); lost to Houston Texans 23-17, drops one spot – Moving from one QB who excelled under pressure to one who faltered big time, EJ Manuel was 5-for-18 with 36 yards and two interceptions on throws where he was blitzed. He’s fared badly against pressure ever since taking over as the Bills starter, which is why veteran Kyle Orton will now be under center.

21. Atlanta Falcons (2-2); lost to Minnesota Vikings 41-28, drops four spots – Matt Ryan continues to put up impressive numbers, but he’ll have more trouble doing so after three of his O-linemen went down with injuries. The defense did a pretty poor job of stopping the run after giving up 241 yards on 44 rushes to Minnesota.

22. New York Giants (2-2); beat Washington Redskins 45-14, moves up one spot – After having such a poor running game last year, New York seems better able to balance their attack thanks to Rashad Jennings. Plus, the addition of Larry Donnell at tight end has given Eli Manning a very reliable weapon – just look at his three TD’s last game for evidence of this.

23. Houston Texans (3-1); beat Buffalo Bills 23-17, moves up two spots – We’re hesitant to put much stock into the Texans’ 3-0 start, given who all they’ve played. But now everybody gets to see what they’re truly made of as they travel to Dallas, play the Colts at home, then head out to Pittsburgh.

24. St. Louis (1-2); bye week, retains same ranking – Will Austin Davis be able to continue exceeding expectations? He’d better if St. Louis is to have a chance against the Eagles. This is especially the case when considering that Philadelphia will be hungry for a win after losing to San Francisco.

geno-smith-jets-225. New York Jets (1-3); lost to Detroit Lions 24-17, drops three spots – The outcry for Geno Smith’s benching continues to grow after yet another lackluster performance by the second-year QB. Rex Ryan’s refusal to sit Smith will end up costing him a job as the Jets enter a tough mid-season stretch.

26. Cleveland Browns (1-2); bye week, moves up one spot – Don’t be surprised to see Cleveland be .500 within a month. They play Tennessee, Jacksonville and Oakland in three out of their next four games. Given how tough the Browns have played against better competition, they should have no trouble grabbing a few wins with their schedule lightening up.

27. Minnesota Vikings (2-2); beat Atlanta Falcons 41-28, moves up two spots – Minnesota might be on to something with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback and Jerick McKinnon running the ball. The latter rushed for 135 yards on just 18 carries, showing that the rookie is more than capable of taking over starting duties. Going back to Bridgewater, he’s a game-time decision for tonight’s contest against the Packers.

28. Tennessee Titans (1-3); lost to Indianapolis Colts 41-17, drops one spot – It’s a good thing that Jake Locker is expected to play this Sunday against Cleveland because Charlie Whitehurst just won’t get it done. Now we finally get to see second-round pick Bishop Sankey take over the starting running back role – will he pay dividends?

29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3); beat Pittsburgh Steelers 27-24, moves up two spots – Mike Glennon made a case for keeping his starting job for good after racking up 302 passing yards and two TD’s. His last completion – a touchdown to Vincent Jackson – gave the Buccaneers their first win.

30. Washington Redskins (1-3); lost to New York Giants 45-14, drops two spots – This loss is easy to sum up when looking at Kirk Cousins’ stats: 19-for-33, 257 passing yards, 1 TD and 4 interceptions. The last number was killer as Washington continually gave the ball up on their home field.

31. Oakland Raiders (0-4); lost to Miami Dolphins 38-14, drops one spot – After playing inspired during a 16-9 loss at New England, Oakland fell completely flat against the Dolphins. They could really use their bye week to come back with a new plan, and to get rookie QB Derek Carr healthy again.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4); lost to San Diego Chargers 33-14, retains same ranking – Jacksonville has finally begun their youth movement, starting Blake Bortles and featuring Denard Robinson as a passing-down back. We doubt the moves will pay off in many wins this season. But at least they’re building towards a better future.

2013 NFL Wild Card Predictions (Jan. 4-5)

wild-card-colts-chiefsThis weekend kicks off the most exciting time in every football season: the NFL Playoffs! This is especially the case if you plan on betting on the 2013 Wild Card matchups. Looking at GTBets‘ NFL Wild Card lines, three out of the four spreads are separated by 2.5 points or less. With such close matchups, it’s definitely worth doing some in-depth analysis on each game.

Kansas City (-110) at Indianapolis (-110) on Saturday (4:35pm, NBC)

We got a preview of this matchup two weeks ago, when the Colts dominated Kansas City by a score of 23-7. Given that this contest was at Arrowhead, you’d think that Indianapolis would roll at home. However, the Colts have been very inconsistent ever since losing Reggie Wayne, so it’s tough to tell how they’ll come out each week. Additionally, they’ve struggled to find a running game all year, which doesn’t bode well against KC’s awesome defense.

So what about the Chiefs? Well, they’ll go as far as Alex Smith can take them. He looked terrible against Indianapolis before, throwing for just 153 yards, 1 interception, and losing 2 fumbles. Overall though, Smith has been pretty consistent this season, which means he should play much better this time around. However, we don’t think that Smith, Jamaal Charles and the KC defense can do enough to prevent wunderkind Andrew Luck from winning at home.

Prediction: Indianapolis beats Kansas City 20-16

New Orleans (-100) at Philadelphia -2.5 (-120) on Saturday (8:00pm, NBC)

wild-card-eagles-saintsThe Saints looked like early-season favorites to come out of the NFC. However, they faltered down the stretch amid growing defensive and road concerns. Their defense is ranked just 21st on the road, which makes their 3-5 record away from the Superdome much more understandable. However, they do have Drew Brees which always counts for something.

But will Brees see the field enough to make a difference? Philadelphia boasts the NFL’s top rusher in LeSean McCoy (1,607 rushing yds) so they should be able to move the chains, grind the clock down, and keep Brees off the field. Add in the fact that McCoy will be opening things up for newly anointed superstar QB Nick Foles, and we definitely see this one going in Philly’s favor.

Prediction: Philadelphia beats New Orleans 34-20

San Diego (-110) at Cincinnati -6.5 (-110) on Sunday (1:00pm, CBS)

wild-card-chargers-bengalsSan Diego survived a nailbiter against Kansas City’s second string last week to slip into the playoffs. Now they face a much bigger challenge in trying to become the first team to win at Cincinnati all season. They’ll be aided on this seemingly impossible quest by a number of offensive weapons, including Philip Rivers, Danny Woodhead, Ryan Mathews and Keenan Allen.

But even if the Chargers are able to put some points up on Cincy, it won’t be enough. The Bengals have crushed opponents at Paul Brown Stadium en route to an 8-0 record. Their last five victories have been particularly dominating, with margins of 17, 28, 14, 21 and 40 points. Considering that Cincinnati already holds a road victory over San Diego this year, we don’t see any chance of the Chargers moving past the Wild Card round.

Prediction: Cincinnati beats San Diego 38-17

San Francisco -2.5 (-110) at Green Bay (-110) on Sunday (4:30pm, Fox)

wild-card-49ers-packersNotice that San Francisco is the only road favorite on GTBets’ NFL Wild Card lines this week. There’s good reason for this too. San Fran is on a six-game winning streak, and they came within a play or two of winning the Super Bowl last year. Plus, they should have no trouble running the ball on Green Bay’s defense with Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore.

But the Packers won’t be total pushovers. Aaron Rodgers finally returned from injury last week and looked almost like his pre-injury self, throwing for 318 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Aside from Rodgers, Green Bay is also at home where they’ll get a big boost from sub-zero temperatures. However, we don’t see inclement weather stopping San Francisco from coming out of this one with a victory.

Prediction: San Francisco beats Green Bay 34-28