NFL Playoff Predictions: Latest Spreads for Wild Card Weekend

Jeff Grant@@JeffGrantSportsContributor IJanuary 2, 2012

NFL Playoff Predictions: Latest Spreads for Wild Card Weekend

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    The National Football League regular season has come to an end, and sports bettors are already starting to crunch numbers for next weekend's playoff games.

    The Greek sports book has sent out betting odds for three of four matchups, as the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants are fighting it out for the NFC East division title on NBC.

    I'm really excited to continue our amazing run over the past three weeks, posting a 28-7-1 against-the-spread record with selections that are released six days in advance.

    Let's take a closer look at the first round of the postseason from a betting perspective.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos

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    The Denver Broncos land in the playoffs despite dropping their final three regular season games, including a dismal 7-3 performance against the Kansas City Chiefs as one-point home favorites Sunday.

    Tim Tebow has been less than spectacular the last two weeks, giving the franchise a free pass to re-evaluate its quarterback position during the offseason.

    Pittsburgh is obviously going to attract a lot of money due to its postseason success, and Las Vegas certainly knows that every casual bettor play the veteran squad on the moneyline.

    The Steelers may be without running back Rashard Mendenhall, which is a key factor in this contest due to the Broncos ability to get after the quarterback.

    Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's ankle will be tested.

    Current Betting Odds: Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.5), Total 35

Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans

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    The Houston Texans dropped their final three regular season games, causing oddsmakers to drop them in their power rankings due to public perception.

    Quarterback T.J. Yates left Sunday's game with a shoulder injury and is currently listed as questionable for this contest.

    Cincinnati will be in revenge mode in suffering a 20-19 defeat to Houston on Dec. 11 as 2.5-point home underdogs, failing to hold onto a 16-3 third-quarter lead.

    The national sports media will certainly focus on both teams having a rookie under center, but this game will be determined on the defensive side of the football.

    Current Betting Odds: Houston Texans (-3), Total 39

Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints

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    The New Orleans Saints are arguably playing the best football in the NFL, but will have to play during Wild Card weekend due to the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers locking up bye weeks.

    Casual bettors will likely jump on the Saints due to their 31-17 win over the Detroit Lions as nine-point home favorites on Dec. 4, but it's important to note that the visitor was playing that contest without star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. 

    Detroit suffered a deflating loss to the Green Bay Packers to end the regular season, which may prove to be difficult for this young roster to get over.

    I'm very suspicious of this line being just a point higher than the previous meeting.

    Buyer beware.

    Current Betting Odds: New Orleans Saints (-10), Total 58.5

Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants or Dallas Cowboys

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    The Atlanta Falcons are a dangerous squad this year due to being eliminated from last year's NFC playoffs during the divisional round as the No. 1 seed.

    Running back Michael Turner will be a key player in controlling the game against whichever team ultimately wins the NFC East division.

    I have a feeling Las Vegas might try to set up a major score on this contest.

    Don't be surprised if the betting line comes out at less than a field goal.

    Potential Betting Odds: New York Giants (-3), Dallas Cowboys (-1.5)