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2013 NFL Playoffs – Divisional Round Matchups

The NFL playoffs will keep rolling along this weekend as the Divisional Round is set to get underway. Both of the top two seeds in each conference will play their first playoff game of the year this weekend and should be well rested after having a bye last weekend. The San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons were the two biggest beneficiaries of the bye week as the defensive units for both teams needed the time off to let some injuries heal.

Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos – 4:30 PM ET Saturday, January 12th

The Baltimore Ravens will travel to Denver to face the Denver Broncos on Saturday afternoon. These two teams met in week 15 of the regular season with the Denver Broncos thoroughly defeating the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore by a final score of 34-17. In that game, Peyton Manning appeared to be in full control of the Denver offense as he was directing players all over the field en route to a 31-3 third quarter lead.

The offense for the Baltimore Ravens seemingly figured some things out in the second half of last weekend’s playoff victory over the Indianapolis Colts. All in all, the Ravens racked up 441 yards of total offense. Without two Ray Rice fumbles, the final score could have been a lot more lopsided than the 24-9 final.

Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers – 8:00 PM ET Saturday, January 12th

The Green Bay Packers will travel west to take on the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night in what is also a rematch from the regular season. Way back in week one, the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Green Bay Packers by a final score of 30-22. Alex Smith was still the quarterback for the 49ers and the Green Bay Packers were still trying to sort out their offensive line issues. Since that game, both teams have taken on a new identity with Green Bay getting back to having a potent passing attack while Colin Kaepernick has taken over the quarterback position for the 49ers and provided a more explosive offensive punch.

In their victory over the Minnesota Vikings in round one of the playoffs, the Green Bay Packers spread the ball around to ten different receivers. With more players getting healthy for the Packers, quarterback Aaron Rodgers will have several excellent targets down field to get the ball to and should have another fine passing day so long as he has time in the pocket.

Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons – 1:00 PM ET Sunday, January 13th

The Seattle Seahawks will look to upset the top seed Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon after defeating Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins on the road in the first round of the playoffs. Seattle will once again turn to their excellent defense in this game as they look to stop Matt Ryan and the Atlanta passing attack. Wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White will need to have a big game if the Falcons are going to move on to the NFC championship game as the Falcons have struggled to run the ball all season long.

If the Seattle Seahawks are able to move the ball effectively and efficiently on the ground against the Atlanta Falcons like they did against the Washington Redskins, it could be a long day for Matt Ryan and company as the Falcons will not have many opportunities to put points on the board.

Houston Texans at New England Patriots – 4:30 PM ET Sunday, January 13th

In another rematch from the regular season, the Houston Texans will travel to Foxborough to take on the New England Patriots. When these two teams met earlier in the year, the New England Patriots easily defeated the Houston Texans by a final score of 42-14. Tom Brady led the Patriots to a 21-0 halftime lead and they never looked back after that as he finished the game with 296 yards passing and four touchdowns.

In their victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in round of the AFC playoffs, the Houston Texans play a much more inspired game on defense. J.J. Watt was constantly getting pressure on Cincinnati’s quarterback Andy Dalton. In order for the Texans to prevail on Sunday against the Patriots, Watt will need to do much of the same while Arian Foster will need to shoulder more of the offensive load.

2012-2013 NFL Potential Playoff Analysis

With five weeks to go in the 2012 NFL season, the playoff picture is starting to take shape. A handful of teams are still alive in the wild card races in both the NFC and AFC, which should make for an exciting finish to the NFL season.

If the season ended today, the current playoff seeding in the NFC would be the following:

1. Atlanta Falcons
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. Chicago Bears
4. New York Giants
5. Green Bay Packers
6. Seattle Seahawks

The Falcons and 49ers would receive first round byes with the Bears facing the Seahawks and the Giants facing the Packers in round one. Both of those games would be rematches from the regular season as the Green Bay Packers just lost to the New York Giants on November 25th and the Bears will host the Seahawks on December 2nd.

Both Tampa Bay and Minnesota are 6-5 along with the Seahawks, but Seattle gets the last wild card spot because of a tie breaker based on best win percentage in conference games over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a head to head tie break over the Minnesota Vikings.

The Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints are all 5-6 and not out of the playoff picture just yet, but time is certainly not on their side as each of those teams needs to start winning games on a consistent basis.

The AFC playoff picture is a little clearer than the NFC at this point. The current division leaders and playoff seedings if the season ended today are the following:

1. Houston Texans
2. Baltimore Ravens
3. New England Patriots
4. Denver Broncos
5. Indianapolis Colts
6. Pittsburgh Steelers

The first round playoff matchups would see the Patriots play the Steelers and Peyton Manning would face his old team as the Broncos would play the Colts. Indianapolis has the inside track on one of the two wild card spots with their 7-4 record. The Pittsburgh Steelers desperately need Ben Roethlisberger to return to the lineup as they are just 6-5 and tied with the Cincinnati Bengals in the standings, but hold the tie break advantage over the Bengals based on head-to-head win percentage.

The Miami Dolphins are right behind the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals with a 5-6 record, and still in the hunt for the last wild card spot. The San Diego Chargers, Tennessee Titans, New York Jets and Buffalo Bills are not completely eliminated from the final wild card position at 4-7, but one of these teams would more than likely have to run the table to grab the sixth and final playoff spot.

Saints – Lions Fly Over the Number – Giants Make Short Work of Falcons

The NFC Wildcard games didn’t leave much to be desired by the typical NFL fan but there were some solid betting opportunities that knowledgeable sports bettors exploited in the two games.

The New Orleans Saints looked like they would destroy the Detroit Lions on paper and the Sportsbooks agreed. The Sportsbooks posted the Saints’ Pointspread as a 10.5 favorite at home and the Saints turned it on in the second half to destroy the large spread, defeating the Lions by a score of 45-28.

The Over was another number that looked unreachable in the Saints/Lions game. The Saints indoors with Drew Brees can play on another level and they did just that against the Lions. The Over made history as the highest Over/Under ever posted on an NFL post season game with a number of 69.5 in some places. The daunting number encouraged action on the Under but the Saints combined with the Lions to score 73 points.

The New York Giants hosted the Atlanta Falcons in the second NFL Wildcard game and there was never a doubt the Giants would cover the 3.5 Pointspread. Eli Manning and the Giants have been inconsistent all season but when the team is on they are one of the best in the NFL.

The Over of 47 was never in jeopardy for the game with the Giants defense handling the Falcons and Matt Ryan. The Falcons have a history of imploding in the post season and this game was no different. Ryan struggled and Mike Smith gambled at the wrong times.

Now the Saints take on the San Francisco 49ers on a slow track in Candlestick Park and the Giants travel to the frozen tundra of Green Bay to take on Aaron Rodgers and the defending champions, the Green Bay Packers.

Bronos & Tebow Shock NFL fans – Bengals lose to Texans AFC Wildcard Review

Prepare for another week of  Denver Broncos  quarterback Tim Tebow and Tebow mania. Tebow did it again against the Pittsburgh Steelers, finishing the AFC North Wildcard representatives in Denver, 29-23. Tebow did it in spectacular fashion, hitting Demaryious Thomas over the middle on the first play of overtime to seal the win.

Ben Roethlisberger never looked comfortable in the pocket and the Denver Broncos defense, despite giving up 23 points, kept him on the ropes all game. The Steelers, favored on the road by 8.5 points, never looked like the best team on the field and they never covered the Pointspread during the game.

Tebow turned in his best performance of his career by the numbers and the Steelers defense helped him do it. The Steelers focused on making Tebow pass by stuffing the run and the strategy backfired. Tebow made big pass after big pass to keep the Steelers on their heels and the Over of 34 points got covered early in the fourth quarter.

The first AFC Wildcard game between the Houston Texans and the Cincinnati Bengals was a battle of the rookies. Rookie quarterback T.J. Yates led the Texans over the Bengals and their rookie quarterback Andy Dalton. The Texans, received the nod from the sportsbooks, getting posted as a 3 point favorite based on the Texans hosting the game.

The real story of the Texans and Bengals battle was defense. The Texans effectively brought the heat on Bengals quarterback Dalton and forced mistakes including an incredible interception by Texans defensive lineman, J.J. Watts.

The Texans nearly covered the 38 point Over total by themselves. Yates turned in a workman like performance to give the Texans their first NFL playoff victory and now they get the honor of traveling to play the Baltimore Ravens.