We are now entering divisional weekend in the 2014 NFL playoffs. After watching all of the wild-card week excitement, we learned some things about the teams who came out on top. First, we learned that Andrew luck is never out of a game. Secondly, we watched three underdog teams not only cover the spread but win outright. The San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts all went into wildcard weekend as underdogs and came out victorious. This week, all three teams will be on the road as heavy-spread underdogs once again and according to odds-makers, none of them stand a chance. The San Diego Chargers (+10) will travel to Denver to play the Broncos, where they have already won this year. The last eight times a #6 seed (Chargers) have faced a #1 seed (Broncos), the six seed team is 6-2. If there is one thing we’ve learned in recent playoff years past, it’s that you don’t bet against the hot wildcard team. Peyton Manning has a career 9-11 playoff record and is 0-2 against the Chargers in the post-season; albeit never with this his current team and stable of dynamic weapons.
However, Manning’s security blanket Wes Welker is healthy and back in the slot, who was not available in the last matchup with the Chargers, where Peyton struggled in a losing effort. With Knowshon Moreno, a ten touchdown 1000+ yard rusher by his side, two outside receivers in Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas who combined for over 2700 yards and 25 touchdowns this season and tight-end Julius Thomas who had 12 TD’s of his own, the Chargers are going to be hard pressed to slow down this Broncos team.
That being said, I think the Broncos win this game out right but the Chargers keep it close and cover the spread. I wouldn’t be surprised if Philip Rivers jumps out to an early lead in Denver, but also doubt if he can match score for score once ‘the sheriff’ Peyton Manning gets rolling. The Chargers must do whatever it takes to control the clock with their running game and short, high-percentage dink-and-dunk passes. Rivers has the hot hand and this Chargers team’s confidence is sky high, I just don’t think it will be high enough to match the altitude they will be met with in Denver.
Denver Broncos 31 San Diego Chargers 27
The Indianapolis Colts will head to Foxboro as seven point underdogs to play the New England Patriots this weekend. We all witnessed Andrew Luck’s coming-out party last week, where he erased a 38-10 deficit in the second half against the Chiefs en route to an exciting 45-44 victory. The Colts (+7) are a strong play for me this weekend, considering Andrew luck will never be counted out of an NFL game for the rest of his career. Undoubtedly, Bill Belichick will have a game plan to take Luck’s number one target Ty Hilton out of the game. With no Rob Gronkowski or big name wide-outs, Tom Brady must rely heavily on guys like Julian Edelman and Shane Vereen in the passing game. I think this will be a close game, I give the upper hand to the patriots at home with battle-tested Brady and Belichick, but I wouldn’t be overly surprised if the Colts somehow managed to win this game. Betting-wise, I like the Colts (+7) in a tight, lead-changing affair in Foxboro. Upset alert in New England*
New England Patriots 27 Indianapolis Colts 24
The New Orleans Saints travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks who dominated Sean Payton’s team earlier this season 34-7. Winning last week’s wildcard game on the road in Philadelphia was a huge leap for the Saints, recording their first road playoff victory in franchise history. The win gave them the much-needed confidence knowing they can go into enemy territory and actually win a big game. This week, they are in for the ultimate road test as they travel to Seattle to face a boisterous Seahawks team that has lost only one home game in the past two seasons. The ‘legion of boom’ will play physical coverage on the Saints receiving corps, and this defense can rush three or four guys and consistently get pressure on Brees. It must be a well-devised, quick release pass game for the Saints offense, who need to get Jimmy Graham the ball if they are going to have any chance. I think the Seahawks win this game, but with the spread at Saints (+8), that’s a lot of points in a playoff game against a good head coach and quarterback. I don’t love this game and spread, but if I had to pick I’d take the Saints getting the eight points.
Seattle Seahawks 30 New Orleans Saints 24
The most intriguing matchup this weekend will be in Carolina, as the 49ers come to town looking to spoil Cam Newton’s first career playoff game. First thing I want to say about this game is that it will be a low scoring affair. The winner of this game may only score 16 points. I like the under and the 49ers in this one. The Panthers went into candlestick to defeat the 49ers earlier this year by a score of 10-9. Kaepernick had arguably the worst game of his career where he was pressured all day by this Carolina defense that sacked Kap six times and held him to 91 passing yards. This is a different 49ers offense with Crabtree back at wide-out and Kaepernick has been playing sound football, using his legs when all else fails. The 49ers dominate the line of scrimmage and defend the run very well. Momentum is building for this 49ers team, and in Cam Newton’s first ever playoff game, I just don’t feel that he will be able to overcome this ferocious defense. I like the 49ers a lot going into this week.
San Francisco 49ers 16 Panthers 13
Parlay of week- 3 team – 49ers ML, Colts (+7), Chargers (+10)
Teaser of the week 3 team 10 point – 49ers (under 52) Chargers (+20) Colts (+17)