With the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs beginning on Saturday, fans and bettors may be focused on the latest lines for all four of the weekend's games.
There are a few wide margins of victory expected. Whether the favorites will make good on the spread is what interested parties want to know.
Let's take a look at all four matchups.
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (-9)
Whether you think the Denver Broncos are going to defeat the San Diego Chargers or not on Sunday, nine points is a lot for this matchup.
The Chargers beat the Broncos 27-20 at Sports Authority Field in Denver in Week 15. In the Week 10 matchup, the Broncos won but only by the score of 28-20.
With the Chargers having won five games in a row—and their last three games on the road—they are about as live an underdog as you'll fine.
Mix in the fact that, per Bovada, the team is 9-6-1 against the spread, and you would be wise to take the 'Bolts and the points.
New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks (-9.5)
Some teams simply don't match up well with others. That's the case with the Saints and Seahawks. In Week 13, Seattle held Drew Brees and the Saints' offense to season lows in points, total yards, first downs and passing yards.
Seattle won that game 34-7 at CenturyLink Field. The Saints will be trying to come up with a different result in Saturday's trip to the Emerald City, but it's not happening.
Seattle's secondary is too big, physical and athletic. All-world cornerback Richard Sherman and the Legion of Boom intimidates quarterbacks and receivers, and they tackle well against the run.
Sherman said this via his blog about Seattle's approach against Brees and the Saints:
The constant pressure on Drew was a large key to our success last time we faced the Saints, and that is the kind of pressure we are looking to create again tomorrow. Brees is one of the best in the league because of his ability to extend plays with his legs in order to deliver the ball through tight windows. Playing against an elite quarterback is a challenge that we always look forward to.
The key to eliminating Drew’s big play capabilities lies in containing the edge and maintaining blanket coverage up top. This has been our style of play all year and we plan on bringing it to the table tomorrow!
The Saints receivers will struggle to get separation and lose another meeting with the Seahawks by a double-digit margin.
The Seahawks are a safe bet to cover the spread.
Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (-7)
It is no secret that the Indianapolis Colts can't stop the run. The team was ranked just 26th in the NFL during the regular season. During the team's Wild Card Game win over the Kansas City Chiefs, the Colts still allowed 150 yards on the ground.
The Chiefs squandered an early 28-point lead, and the Colts finished them off after a miraculous comeback.
Tom Brady and New England won't allow that to happen to them. The Pats will use LeGarrette Blount to pound the Colts front seven and wear it down in the second half.
The Pats have leaned on Blount more in the last few weeks as injuries and player absences have taken away Brady's top passing weapons. Blount's rushing yards have increased in each of the last four games of the regular season.
New Englaind's transition comes at a great time considering the weakness of their opponent. The Patriots will win and cover the seven-point spread.
San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers (Pick 'em)
The winner of this game is not just a good bet to reach the Super Bowl; it will be a strong contender to win it all.
Carolina and San Francisco are similar and so evenly matched. Both teams depend on strong running games, stout defenses, and they feature mobile quarterbacks.
In the end, the difference will be playmakers on the offensive side of the ball and experience.
Both categories favor the 49ers.
Michael Crabtree's return to San Francisco's lineup has been huge for the entire offense. It's given the Niners another valuable and dependable weapon in the passing game. Without his eight catches for 125 yards in the freezing cold of Green Bay during last week's Wild Card Game, the 49ers wouldn't be in this position.
San Francisco is simply a better team with him on the field. Dylan DeSimone of Bleacher Report points out the bottom-line effect Crabtree's return has had on San Francisco.
Perhaps even bigger than Crabtree's impact is the huge advantage the 49ers have in experience. Most everyone on the roster was a part of the NFC championship squad from a year ago. Likewise, many of the holdovers from the team that advanced to the NFC Championship Game in 2012 are still on the roster.
All but 21 Panthers are playing their first playoff game, and that includes quarterback Cam Newton.
In a close game, the 49ers win and move on.
Odds per Covers.com
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