Los Angeles, CA
The second and final day of Wild Card games features match-ups between Indianapolis/Baltimore in the AFC and Seattle/Washington in the NFC.
|SNL spoofs Ray Lewis|
Indianapolis Colts (11-5) at Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
Lines: Baltimore -7 and 47 o/u
Pauly's Pick: Baltimore moneyline and OVER 47
Indianapolis was a team on a mission all season after head coach Chuck Pagano battled and beat leukemia. Pagano returned to the sidelines for Week 17 and will be coaching during the playoffs. On paper, Indianapolis is considered the worst team in the playoffs due to their weak schedule. But none of that matters now because they have one shot to prove their worth. Indianapolis (11-5 ATS) visits Baltimore (6-9 ATS).
Indianapolis is a far different team away from home. Four of Indy's five losses came on the road including one ugly loss to the lowly New York Jets. On the road this season, Indy is only 4-4 ATS. To complicate matters, Indy is a dome team playing a road game in the playoffs.
Baltimore lost four of their last five games, but those were tough opponents (division rival Pittsburgh, Washington, Denver, NY Giants, and Cincinnati) and coach John Harbaugh rested his starters in the last game of the season. Baltimore's offense has been struggling this season, so much so that their offensive coordinator was fired midway through the season. Former Indianapolis head coach Jim Caldwell is the new play caller as offensive coordinator. The good news for Baltimore is that even though they are struggling, they are facing a team with a porous defense.
Indianapolis' defense is their hugest liability and ranked #26 overall in yards allowed, which is why they rely on Andrew Luck's arm to out-gun their opponents. Indy gives up 24.2 points/game and over 137 yards/game on the ground.
Ray Lewis missed the second half of the season with a torn tricep, but he will be suiting up for the playoffs. Who knows if he'll be effective but at the least, Lewis' appearance will give the defense a much-needed ego boost. Let's be frank here... Baltimore's defense is old and banged up... but you cannot discount their collective experience, especially against a rookie QB who is playing his first playoff game on the road. Luck struggled on the road with only 11 TDs but 13 INTs.
If Indy is going to win... Indy has to step up on defense across the board and stop Ray Rice. Andrew Luck must also keep the ball away from Baltimore defenders. Luck has a stellar arm, but he's still prone to making rookie mistakes. On offense, Indy has to keep the chains moving and put pressure on Baltimore's aging defense.
If Baltimore is going to win... they have to get Ray Rice involved in the running game, especially because they can exploit Indy's horrible run defense. Baltimore will have to rely on Flacco's playoff experience to keep his turnovers to a minimum and hold onto the ball, which gives Baltimore the best chance to win.
Bottom line... Indy made the playoffs due to a weak schedule but they don't play as well on the road as they do at home. Andrew Luck posted spectacular numbers as a rookie, but his completion percentage is under .500. Baltimore's aging defense is not as menacing as it once was, but they'll be getting their leader Ray Lewis back in the lineup for what might be his last ever game in Baltimore because he's retiring at the end of the season. Baltimore is a team that is tough to beat at home, but with Luck's arm, he can always help his team backdoor a cover. That's why I'm betting the moneyline on Baltimore. I also like the OVER 47 because both defenses are suspect. Rice is going to have a huge game against Indy's terrible run defense, and Luck has the ability to score points on every possession.
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|Richard Sherman trolling Tom Brady|
Seattle Seahawks (11-5) at Washington Redskins (10-6)
Line: Seattle -3
Pauly's Pick: UNDER 46
Seattle (11-5 ATS) visits Washington (11-5 ATS) in one of the most exciting matchups in the Wild Card round. It will feature a pair of rookie QBs. Although Robert Griffin III aka RG3 has been getting the majority of the press, Russell Wilson's epic rookie season has been overlooked with 26 TDs and only 10 INTs.
Seattle has the best defense in the NFL giving up only 15.3 points/game. Seattle's defense has not only been shutting down the opposition, but they have also been scoring defensive touchdowns at an outrageous clip. Sure, they will be lining up against a Washington squad that does not turn the ball over as much as some of the teams Seattle faced, but they are going to go after RG3 with everything they have. Seattle will also have Brandon Browner back in the line up at CB after sitting out a four-game suspension for taking Adderall (which is a substance banned by the NFL).
Seattle had a three-game stretch in which they obliterated their opponents by a combined score of 150-30, including an impressive 42-13 victory at home over San Francisco. In their last five games, Seattle's defense has only given up 60 points. More importantly, Seattle is 6-0 ATS against teams with a winning record.
The rookie tandem of RG3 and Alfred Morris have been eating up yardage all season. Morris was a true sleeper and finished second overall in the NFL with 1,613 rushing yards. Seattle's defense will meet one of the toughest challenges all season. If they stop RG3 in the air, can they thwart his running game? If they stop RG3, will they be able to handle Morris?
If Seattle is going to win... they will have to stonewall Washington's running game and force RG3 to beat them in the air. On offense, all they have to do is hand the ball off to Marshawn Lynch and let him crank it up to full BEAST mode. Washington's run defense is much better than their pass defense, so QB Russell Wilson will look to exploit Washington's biggest liability. If Wilson has another efficient performance and doesn't turn the ball over, he'll put Seattle in the best spot to win.
If Washington is going to win... they will have to stop Marshawn Lynch and force rookie QB Russell Wilson to beat them in the air. On offense, they have to get Alfred Morris and the running game going early on. If that doesn't work, it will be up to RG3 to work his magic and take shots at Seattle's secondary. Doesn't matter if it's on the ground or in the air, RG3 is a force to be reckoned with and Seattle's defenders are going to have their hands full.
Bottom line... it's hard to ignore a home dog in the playoffs and Washington is 4-0 ATS in their last four home games. Plus, Seattle is a team that everyone bets at home, yet fade on the road. However, this might be one of the few times to go against that trend. The line opened as a pick'em and quickly moved to Seattle -2 before hovering around -3. I missed a chance to get Seattle as a pick'em, but grabbed -1 before the number got worse. Simply put, both teams have a similar offense, but Seattle has a far superior defense to go up against RG3 who is not 100% (he has a bum knee). The line is now Seattle -3 and I don't know if I can lay that many points on the road, so based on that number, I would pass. Both teams like to run the ball and will eat up the clock, so we're going with the UNDER 46.