The opening games of the National Football League’s Wild-Card Weekend left us wanting more as both games were lacking in my opinion of big plays and “down-to-the-wire” drama. The Carolina Panthers held the Arizona Cardinals to less than 100 yards of total offense in their win in the NFC while the Baltimore Ravens went into Pittsburgh and knocked off the Steelers.
The Panthers will find out their destination today while the Ravens will head to New England where they’ve had some good playoff success. On to my thoughts for today’s action.
Cincinnati (+3) at Indianapolis (O/U 49) - Last time the Bengals came to Indianapolis they left without even scoring a single point. I have to believe they will have watched that tape a great deal this week to see where things went wrong. I definitely think you’ll see heavy doses of Jeremy Hill in order to set up play-action.
The Colts have leaked serious oil heading into the postseason and they have to hope they can find their groove. The rushing attack for Indy has been a struggle all season but they’ll need to find some semblance of it in order for Andrew Luck to have time to throw.
Let’s face it; all eyes will be on Andy Dalton who is 0-3 in the playoffs. He hasn’t played well in any of the three previous postseason games. The good news? He plays much better during day games than he does night games.
Key Injuries: CIN WR A.J. Green OUT/Concussion, TE Jermaine Gresham QUEST/Knee… IND G Hugh Thornton OUT/Shoulder
Trends: The total has gone UNDER in six of the Bengals’ last eight games… Indianapolis is 5-0 straight up in their last five games at home against the Bengals… Cincy is 2-5 against the spread when on the road in Indy.
The Pick: I like the Colts to cover and the OVER.
Detroit (+7.5) at Dallas (O/U 48) - The Lions received some good news when Ndamukong Suh’s suspension was overturned earlier this week which means he will play against the Cowboys. I believe his presence will have serious impact on the game but only if his team’s offense can find some success and that hasn’t been easy in recent weeks.
The Cowboys will do nothing special. They will run the ball with DeMarco Murray and Tony Romo will look for Dez Bryant in the passing game. If the Dallas defense plays well, this game could get ugly early. The only way it doesn’t is if the Lions’ top-ranked rushing defense can force Romo to be the only source of offense.
Matthew Stafford needs a signature win and his play this season doesn’t make me think this is the week but the talent is there. He must avoid the bone-headed plays that seem to haunt him. If he can, a close game may be in store today.
Key Injuries: DET G Larry Warford OUT/Knee, DT Nick Fairley DOUBT/Knee…DAL T Doug Free DOUBT/Knee, G Zack Martin PROB/Ankle
Trends: The total has gone UNDER in 14 of Detroit’s last 19 games… Dallas is 2-4 against the spread in their last six games at home… The total has gone UNDER in eight of the Lions’ last nine games on the road.
The Pick: Take Dallas to cover and I like the OVER.