Prediction: 49ers 27, Packers 23
After 17 weeks of attempting to predict the NFL season, the playoffs are a completely different monster. With every team at this point earning their way into the postseason, the 12 remaining teams have proven their worth and carved their way into meaningful games late in the season.
Therefore, the lines on every game are within one score and make for a difficult task to pick who will advance to the divisional round.
With the postseason officially beginning on Saturday afternoon, here are the current spreads, times and predictions for the Wild Card Round.
|Kansas City Chiefs||Indianapolis Colts||Jan. 4, 4:35 p.m. EST||IND -2.5||Colts|
|New Orleans Saints||Philadelphia Eagles||Jan. 4, 8:10 p.m. EST||PHI -2.5||Eagles|
|San Diego Chargers||Cincinnati Bengals||Jan. 5, 1:05 p.m. EST||CIN -7||Bengals|
|San Francisco 49ers||Green Bay Packers||Jan. 5, 4:40 p.m. EST||SF -3||49ers|
Spreads courtesy of Vegas Insider
Indianapolis Colts (-2.5 vs. Kansas City Chiefs)
After the loss of Reggie Wayne for the season, the Indianapolis Colts appeared to be a lost puppy looking for its owner. While the Colts still don't appear to be as good without Wayne roaming the field, they did at least own the Chiefs in Week 16.
The Colts bounced back from the loss of Wayne to win their final three games, thanks in large part to another young emerging receiver. T.Y. Hilton not only finished with over 1,000 yards this season, he also had a career game in Week 17 with 11 catches for 155 yards.
Indy's official Instagram account congratulated the second-year receiver with this post:
With evidence that they can beat the Chiefs already, the Colts will get the job done yet again in the playoffs behind the combination of Luck and Hilton.
Prediction: Colts 23, Chiefs 14
Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5 vs. New Orleans Saints)
Nick Foles will outduel Drew Brees. This is a statement that seems ridiculous even after the success Foles has enjoyed this season, but it will happen in the Wild Card Round.
Not only has Foles been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFC this season—tough to say NFL with the way that Peyton Manning guy has been playing—he's also been a part of the best offense in the conference.
The Eagles rank first in the NFC in passing yards and rushing yards while also scoring 27.6 points per game, which ranks first among remaining NFC playoff teams. Needless to say, New Orleans' coach Sean Payton will have a difficult time preparing for the Eagles, as the team's official Twitter account reported:
Payton on Eagles offense “It’s hard to prepare for or simulate in practice” #NOvsPHI— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) December 30, 2013
With several playmakers surrounding Foles on the offensive side of the ball, the Eagles' defensive woes will be overshadowed by its offense's firepower to take out the Saints, who are 0-5 in road playoff games.
Prediction: Eagles 38, Saints 35
Cincinnati Bengals (-7 vs. San Diego Chargers)
In yet another rematch from the regular season, the Cincinnati Bengals already claimed a road win over the San Diego Chargers on Dec. 1. Just over a month later, the Bengals will complete the sweep at home.
Andy Dalton's inconsistent season has been well chronicled—he threw four interceptions in the final game of the year against the Baltimore Ravens—but what has kept the Bengals alive all year has been their defense.
Cincinnati has the No. 1 defense in the AFC heading into the playoffs and the No. 1 passing defense among remaining conference teams in the playoffs. That should bode well for the Bengals against Philip Rivers and the No. 2 passing offense in the AFC when the Chargers come to town.
Team Green, a fan Twitter account for Bengals receiver A.J. Green, tweeted a graphic illustrating how well he and Dalton have performed this season in terms of past players for Cincinnati:
With a defense that has shut down nearly every competitor this season and an offense that will be facing a porous Chargers defense that nearly lost to a Chiefs team with their starters on the bench, the Bengals should run away with this game and move on.
Prediction: Bengals 28, Chargers 20
San Francisco 49ers (-3 at Green Bay Packers)
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Need evidence that the San Francisco 49ers are one of the best teams in the NFL? After finishing on a six-game winning streak, the 49ers were also 5-1 in the NFC West—a division that featured three teams with 10 or more wins and two playoff teams, including the No. 1 Seattle Seahawks.
Despite their 12-4 record and wins over the Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals, the 49ers still have to travel to Lambeau Field to play the Green Bay Packers in the opening round of the NFL playoffs.
While the Green Bay offense finally looks complete with Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb returning in Week 17, its defense remains the biggest question mark. Going against the No. 3 rushing offense in the NFL—No. 2 in the NFC—the Packers 25th-ranked rushing defense will likely have a few issues.
If the 49ers defense can limit the Packers offense, which ranks in the top 10 in both rushing and passing yards in the NFL, the offense will be able to control the time of possession and down Green Bay to advance to the divisional round.