Not much went right for us in the Saturday games. In the early matchup the Kansas City Chiefs returned the opening kickoff to snatch the momentum right from the get go. Their defence meant that they were still in the game until halftime but Brian Hoyer turned in probably the worst performance that I can remember from a quarterback in a playoff game to turn the ball over 5 times. Don’t expect him to be back in Houston next season.
In the later Game our tip of Pittsburgh Steelers minus 2.5 was cruising as they dominated through the opening three quarters to hold a 15-0 lead. Then disaster struck as QB Ben Roethlisberger was injured and the Bengals rallied to take a 16-15 lead late on. Big Ben did return to the field and engineered a drive(aided by some penalty calls) to set up a field goal and 2 point victory to keep our ante post bet of the Steelers for the SuperBowl going. Those backing later in the evening hopefully got them at minus 2 and will have had stakes returned. Sunday evening sees the final two game of wildcard weekend, the Seattle Seahawks going to the Minnesota Vikings while the Green Bay Packers travel to Washington to face the Redskins.
Seattle Seahawks -4 @ 20/23 vs Minnesota Vikings (6.05pm) NAP
Minnesota’s elation at beating divisional rivals Green Bay at Lambeau Field last weekend to win the NFC north must have quickly been tempered by the realisation that the said victory would put them on a collision course with the resurgent Seattle Seahawks. Otherwise they would have faced the Washington Redskins, a much more manageable task albeit on the road. Just a few weeks ago this same Seahawks team came to Minnesota and smashed the Vikings by a 38-6 scoreline.
From a betting viewpoint Minnesota has been one of the better team against the spread in the NFL this season and we have had quite a bit of success in backing them. There’s no doubt that they have both the ability to cover here and even win this game outright. As usual their chances of success will fall firmly on the shoulders of Adrian Peterson. AP has just finished the season as the league’s leading rusher for the third time in his career and he will be the absolute focal point of the attack for this game. He won’t have it easy though against the third best run defence in the league and one that held him to just 18yards in that meeting in December. Should they manage to shut him down in this game they problem will be just what is their plan B? Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has developed well this season but he is still more of a game manager type QB than a gun slinger who will beat defences with his arm. Likewise the receiving corps does not look like it will match up well against this Seahawks secondary. Stefon Diggs did have a midseason explosion but has been held in check down the stretch as teams have figured him out as the number one option.
Seattle, as per usual have had a strong finish to the season winning 6 of their last 7 games. They may have the hottest Quarterback in the league right now with Russell Wilson and hottest receiver in Doug Baldwin both of whom are having career high years. The game has come too soon though for Marshawn Lynch who will need another week, should the Seahawks be in the playoffs. Sure this is a Seattle team that has lost 6 games this season but look at the teams who they have lost to. The Packers, Bengals, Panthers and Cardinals, all playoff teams, beat them out in close contests while they lost the other two against their bogey team, the Rams. This is a team that has found its form at just the right time of the year and they will be difficult to oppose here.
I’m certainly not expecting a repeat of December’s result considering this is a playoff game and forecasts are suggesting temperatures will be well below freezing for it. However the Seahawks do have the ability to stop Peterson while putting up points themselves and if they get a couple of scores ahead it’s hard to see a way backinto this for the Vikings.
Green Bay Packers Win @ 20/21 Vs Washington Redskins (9.40pm)
Without doubt this is the most perplexing game of the weekend for me. On the basis of it, things seem rather simple. One team that is playing very well at home to a team that is not playing very well, you have got to go with the home team. When you consider though that the away team is playing with two time league MVP Aaron Rodgers at quarterback the waters get a little murkier.
In the absence of his number one receiver Jordy Nelson his offence has been stuttering all season. The other receivers have failed to step up to the mark and lead running back Eddie Lacy was anonymous for a large part of the season. If Rodgers is the NFLs equivalent of Michael Schumacher then this Green Bay attack has more resembled a rickety old Lada than a finely polished Ferrari! That said, Rodgers is still one of the elite QBs in the league and one who can take this game in his hands.
Washington has come through a pretty poor division but has been playing well especially down the stretch. QB Kirk Cousins is playing the best football of his career and has thrown for 23TDS and just 3 interceptions over the course of the last 10 games. They have playmakers at the skill positions with DeSean Jackson and receiver and Jordan Reed at tight end. Green Bay’s major weakness though comes in defending the run and if there is something that the ‘Skins haven’t done well its run the ball. Their timeshare between Alfred Morris and Matt Jones ranks dead last in the league and Jones is also questionable to play in this one.
The key to this will be whether or not the Green Bay defence can defend well against the pass as they did last week, holding the Vikings. If so surely Rodgers, despite his beat up offensive line will be able to generate something and Lacy should have success against the only run defence in the playoffs that’s been worse than Green Bays. Let’s not forget that this Washington team has yet to beat any team with a winning record this year and while Cousins is making his playoff debut, Rodgers has been doing this for the last 7 season. Green Bay to grab the win(but only just!)
Best of luck