Wild Card Playoff Predictions: Latest Odds and Picks Against the Spread

Brandon Alisoglu@@BrandonAlisogluCorrespondent IJanuary 2, 2013

Wild Card Playoff Predictions: Latest Odds and Picks Against the Spread

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    Every team in the postseason has a chance.

    The NFL lives and breathes this any-given-Sunday mantra. Every 60-minute game can be decided by a few fluke bounces (Kyle Williams anyone?), regardless of the talent disparity of the two teams. 

    Thus, we can leave the regular season behind and focus solely on the playoffs because that is where careers are made.

    Thus, I shall follow suit. I'm leaving my regular-season record behind and focusing on what's important. Sure, I fell six games short of the even-water mark, but that's all in the past.

    All I want is a chance. And luckily, there is absolutely no criteria keeping me from picking the playoffs.

    It also wouldn't hurt to win some money. Although my girlfriend keeps yammering on about some "girlfriend tax" on winnings. So in some ways that regular-season record was a blessing. Right?

    I didn't think so either. Whatever. Just click through for my NFL Wild Card picks against the spread.

    All lines provided by footballlocks.com. Picks denoted by capital letters.

    Season Record: 124-130-2

    Playoff Record: 0-0

CINCINNATI BENGALS (+4.5) vs. Houston Texans

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    There's more to this pick than the Houston Texans' incredibly inept stumble into the playoffs.

    Although not much.

    The Texans lost a huge piece of their defensive prowess when they lost Brian Cushing. The unit no longer imposes fear into opponents, despite J.J. Watt turning in one of the best seasons ever. 

    Andy Dalton isn't going to shred the defense like Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, but he should be able to find A.J. Green often enough to put some points on the board. It's much easier to focus down the field when the defense only has one true pass-rushing threat, regardless of how scary he is.

    And Green's points will force the Texans to figure out how to play offense, something they haven't done well in weeks. Houston lacks a second receiver, as the supporting receivers haven't even cracked 800 yards for the season.

    But they have Arian Foster!

    Yes, they do. The same Foster who has posted averages of 3.1, 2.7 and 1.5 in his last three outings that didn't include the Indianapolis Colts. 

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (+8) vs. Green Bay Packers

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    I'm not betting against Adrian Peterson getting eight points.

    I don't care that Aaron Rodgers is just as credible of an MVP candidate as Peterson. I don't even care that he finished the season with a 108.0 quarterback rating.

    I don't care that this means I'm putting my faith in Christian Ponder on the road in the playoffs. In Lambeau no less.

    That's how good Peterson is. He can sense that his legacy has the potential to keep jumping multiple levels with his Herculian performances. He isn't going to waste this opportunity. 

    It also doesn't hurt that that he's rushed for 409 yards in the last month against the Green Bay Packers.

    I'm not betting against that, and I've been dumb enough to rely on the Jacksonville Jaguars multiple times this year. They went 2-14 this season.

    Are you sensing how dumb it would be to lay that many points in a game between bitter rivals?

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (+6.5) vs. Baltimore Ravens

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    Three road underdogs? Are you nuts?

    Probably. But I'm not betting against ChuckStrong for the same reasons I'm not betting against Adrian Peterson.

    Well, that and the Indianapolis Colts are getting 6.5 points against a Baltimore Ravens team that doesn't look very imposing.

    Have you checked out the Ravens' schedule? They haven't beaten a playoff team since September.


    Heck, they've only beaten two playoffs all season, and one of those wins might have been nullified if the goal posts were extended by a few feet.

    So now I'm supposed to lay 6.5 points with a team that has one quality win on its resume facing off against an inspired bunch led by the next Peyton Manning? I feel like Vegas is insulting my intelligence. 

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (-3) vs. Washington Redskins

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    I just predicted every road team to win in the first round of the playoffs. But hear me out.

    The Seattle Seahawks have been winning games left and right lately. Their recent run of seven wins in eight games is just as impressive, if not more so, than the Redskins' seven-game winning streak.

    They dismantled the 49ers, outlasted the Bears on the road and gutted out a win over a tougher-than-you-think Rams team.

    Plus, Russell Wilson is the Offensive Rookie of the Year. 

    All of those road woes that worried Seahawks fans are a thing of the past. Wilson has grown into his role as the leader of the offense and has proved he can make all of the plays (and throws) now.

    As for the Skins' ROY candidate, he's getting healthy, but is he going to be 100 percent? Doesn't he need to be for Washington to move the ball on that Seattle defense?

    Alfred Morris did turn in a Wheaties-washed-down-with-a-can-of-chunky-Campbells-soup performance last week. However, the Seattle defense is a much more physical unit than the one residing in Dallas. 

    And, conversely, the Skins struggled to keep the Cowboys' rushing attack contained (4.5 ypc). That's not a positive point when Marshawn Lynch is coming to town.