Fri, Jan 12, 1:53pm by Staff Writer
The Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars and New Orleans Saints all earned victories on Wildcard week and now faced well-rested, top calibre teams in this weekend’s divisional playoffs.
Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, 14 January 2018 at 8.35am AEDST
Atlanta visit Philadelphia on Sunday morning after they defeated the Los Angeles Rams 26-13 last weekend.
The Falcons capitalised on Rams turnovers and never relinquished control of the contest from midway through the second quarter.
The Eagles ended the regular season with the top seed in the NFC, but an injury to quarterback Carson Wentz late in the season drafted in talented quarterback Nick Foles.
The Eagles lead the head-to-head with Atlanta 6-4 in their last 10 meetings, while the Falcons are 2-6 against the spread in their last eight visits to Philadelphia.
The Eagles are being installed as three point underdogs at home, with a week’s rest which is ludicrous.
Atlanta beat an inexperienced Rams team playing with a second-year quarterback. Nick Foles is experienced and with a week off and home field advantage, we like the Eagles to win and progress to host the NFC Championship game next week.
Best bet- Philadelphia Eagles to win at $2.33 at Sportsbet
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots
Sunday, 14 January 2018 at 12.15pm AEDST
The most lopsided of the wildcard round fixtures sees the Tennessee Titans visit Foxboro to take on New England.
The Titans had a miraculous comeback last weekend against the Chiefs, winning 22-21 after trailing 21-3 at half-time.
Tennessee restricted Kansas City to only 69 rushing yards, but Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith was able to gain 256 passing yards, which plays right into quarterback Tom Brady’s hands for the Patriots.
New England has dominated Tennessee recently, winning their past six matches against the Titans and are 4-0 against the spread in their last four playoff matches.
This will be all one way traffic and it would be unsurprising if it was game over by half-time.
Best bet- New England Patriots to cover -13.5 at $2.04
Jacksonville Jaguars versus Pittsburgh Steelers
Monday, 15 January 2018 at 5.05am AEDST
The most intriguing match up of divisional round has the Jaguars visiting the Steelers on Monday morning.
Jacksonville cruised to a 30-9 win at Heinz Field in week 5 of the regular season against the Steelers, with the Jags more than a touchdown underdog on that afternoon.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roesthlisberger had a forgettable afternoon, throwing five interceptions in the loss.
Jaguars rookie running back Leonard Fournette rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns in the win, with Jags quarterback Blake Bortles throwing for a meagre 95 yards.
The Steelers have a losing home record (1-4) against the Jaguars since 2004, which is surprising given Jacksonville’s mediocrity over the past decade.
Most of Pittsburgh’s starters sat out during their week 17 win against Cleveland and the week off last week means most of their star players are well rested.
Jacksonville won an ugly game against Buffalo last weekend 10-3, but will need to increase their intensity and scoring to compete with Pittsburgh this weekend.
Big Ben won’t throw five interceptions in this contest and the Steelers should win, but the dogged Jags will cover the line.
Best bet- Pittsburgh Steelers Big Win Little Win 1-13 points at $2.40
New Orleans Saints versus Minnesota Vikings
Monday, 15 January 2018 at 8.40pm AEDST
According to bookmakers, the winner of this match between the Saints and Vikings will host the NFC Championship game, as the sixth seeded Atlanta Falcons are favourites at Philadelphia on Sunday morning.
In week 1, the Saints visited Minnesota and were 29-19 winners after started the match as three-point favourites.
A lot has changed since the opening weekend of the season, with the Vikings losing quarterback Sam Bradford to an ACL injury in week 4, replaced by Case Keenum.
The Saints narrowly defeated NFC South rivals Carolina last weekend, 31-26. The 2017 Saints are far more threatening offensively than years gone by thanks to NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year, running back Alvin Kamara.
New Orleans were only held to 41 yards rushing versus the Panthers last weekend and must get their run game going to compete with the Vikings.
Minnesota had the best defence in the NFL during the regular season, ranking first in total yards and points allowed per game at 15.5.
The Vikings are number two against the rush (83.6rpg) and number two against the pass (192.4ypg).
Those statistics alone point to a Minnesota win, but the Saints have tenure and experience in quarterback Drew Brees.
Vikings quarterback Case Keenum has never started a playoff game and the pressure on him will be immense given the fact that the Superbowl is hosted in Minnesota this season.
In a pick-em game, we are siding with the Saints and the points, despite the Vikings superior regular season record.
Best bet- New Orleans Pelicans +4.5 at $2
*All odds provided by Sportsbet
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