The 2012 NFL playoffs are in full swing, and we have already seen a number of pretenders eliminated from the pack of contenders.
There are four more exciting matchups on tap in the Divisional Round, and all eight teams will be fighting tooth and nail to advance to their respective conference Championships.
If you are interesting in making the viewing experience even more thrilling, wagering on these games is one solid option. I'm here to help you make the right call if you wind up placing a bet.
Let’s take a look at the playoff bracket, then take a closer peek at each one of these contests and predict which team will win each one against the spread.
*Point spreads via ScoresAndOdds.com
2013 NFL Playoff Bracket
*Bracket via PrintYourBrackets.com
Picks Against the Spread
DENVER BRONCOS (-9) over Baltimore Ravens
The Broncos are on an 11-game winning streak and coming off a much-needed bye, which is why I am giving them the edge over a banged-up Ravens team that beat arguably one of the worst playoff teams in years.
Even though Baltimore looked solid against the Colts, they struggled in the final few weeks of the regular season, losing four of their last five—which includes a 34-17 shellacking at Mile High.
It’s never worth it to bet against a red-hot Peyton Manning, and you would be making a grave mistake to do so in his first playoff game after missing the entire 2011 campaign.
Green Bay Packers (+3) over SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
For some reason, the Packers have been consistently underrated by the public and continually represent great value for gamblers.
They went into Wild Card weekend as just a 7.5-point home favorite against their NFC North rivals, the Minnesota Vikings. As you likely witnessed on Saturday, the Pack destroyed an undermanned Joe Webb-led Purple People Eaters unit, 24-10.
Aaron Rodgers will continue proving doubters wrong during his “down year” and will lead Green Bay to an upset victory in Candlestick Park this Saturday.
Even if the Packers O-line leaves much to be desired—and the Niners possess one of the best pass rushers in the league—I'm not going to bet against an MVP-caliber signal-caller’s offense going toe-to-toe with a mediocre offense led by a first-year starter in Colin Kaepernick.
Seattle Seahawks (+2.5) over ATLANTA FALCONS
Despite failing to win the NFC West—largely due to early-season struggles—the Seahawks are one of the most complete teams in the 2013 playoffs.
Russell Wilson has developed into a world-class QB in his rookie season and has improved his play on the road significantly. Marshawn Lynch is running with his usual fury, and the entire defensive unit is one of the strongest in the entire league.
Coach Pete Carroll’s squad just proved they could travel thousands of miles to win a playoff game away from CenturyLink Field, and will repeat that success against the Dirty Birds—a team that historically struggles in the postseason.
ATL QB Matt Ryan has yet to win a win-or-go home contest, and I am predicting he falters once again in front of the home crowd at the Georgia Dome this coming Sunday.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-9) over Houston Texans
The Pats were fortunate to get a bye, and had more luck come their way after Houston knocked out the Bengals and advanced to the divisional round.
Remember, these Patriots—sans superstar TE Rob Gronkowski—absolutely undressed the Texans on Monday Night Football back in Week 14 and wound up winning 42-14 in front of the home fans.
It’s going to feel like déjà vu come Sunday night, as the Patriots are top-to-bottom a better team than the Texans. QB Tom Brady and the rest of this offensive unit will have no problem putting up points, while coach Bill Belichick designs a genius scheme to shut down Arian Foster and the Houston offensive attack.
Lay the points and watch New England roll to a huge win.