Wild Card Weekend is upon us! The NFL season flew by and we have reached the best part of the season, the Playoffs. My goal is to go a perfect 11-0 against the spread throughout the NFL playoffs. Wild Card weekend features a classic match up between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. It also features two quarterbacks, Tony Romo and Matthew Stafford, that have well documented playoff struggles.
Carolina Panthers -6 vs Arizona Cardinals
The Carolina Panthers got on a roll to end the season. Their defense got a few things figured out and found a way to finish as a top 10 defense. Cam Newton found his legs down the stretch, helping his mobility and accuracy. The Cardinals come into this game going in the opposite direction. They are on their fourth different starting quarterback and are praying Drew Stanton can be under center for this game, which says a lot. The Cardinals injuries are finally catching up with them. The offense has gone stagnant for Arizona, forcing them to rely on their defense. They will be leaned on heavily against the Panthers, if they want to have a chance in this game. I think the Panthers defense makes a few plays and the offense finds a way to get a few scores. The Panthers win this game and win pretty convincingly.
Baltimore Ravens +3 at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Le’Veon Bell knee injury has thrown a huge question mark into wild card weekend. Bell has been phenomenal down the stretch for the Steelers. There is a question on whether or not Bell can go Saturday night. If Bell goes, his effectiveness will be key for a Pittsburgh victory. The return of Haloti Ngata will help the Ravens stop whomever is running the ball for the Steelers, including newly signed Ben Tate. The Ravens secondary has been bad this season. Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and company, have the potential for a field day. The Ravens pass rush must get pressure on Roethlisberger, if they want to have any chance in this game. If Baltimore can prevent the Steelers to hit the home run throw, they have a great shot in this game. Joe Flacco and company will be productive and find a way to not only cover in this game, but will win outright.
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Indianapolis Colts -3.5 v Cincinnati Bengals
We have seen this game before. On October 19th, The Bengals went into Lucas Oil Field and got their doors blow off, losing 27-0. The Colts haven’t looked great as of late, but have Andrew Luck and a dynamic pass attack. The Colts secondary is very opportunistic and going against Andy Dalton, who will provide plenty of chances for the Bengal defense to make plays. Dalton may also be without AJ Green, who suffered a head injury a week ago against the Steelers. The Colts will have to slow the Bengal rush attack to win this game. Big, physical backs tend to give the Colts problems. Jeremy Hill has the opportunity to have a monster game. That said, I trust in Andrew Luck. I think the Colts win this game and cover the spread with ease.
Dallas Cowboys -7 vs Detroit Lions
The Dallas Cowboys have had issues at home this season but have been mauling teams as of late. Their offensive line moves their opponents and creates massive rush lanes for running back DeMarco Murray. The Lions will have Ndamukong Suh, who will not be suspended, for this game to anchor their defensive line. Matthew Stafford is 0-16 on the road against teams with winning records. He continues to make the big mistakes when it matters most. I expect a dominant effort from the Cowboys, who will win this game going away.