The 2014 NFL regular season has come to a close, and the playoffs will begin on the first weekend of the New Year. The two AFC games are rematches from this year, while the NFC teams haven’t played each other since 2013.
A few weeks ago, the Arizona Cardinals might have been heavy favorites in their matchup with Carolina, but injuries have severely limited Bruce Arians's squad. They are getting 4.5 points against the Panthers, having lost four of their last six games and being forced to start Ryan Lindley at quarterback after Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton went down. Carolina is one of the hottest teams in the NFL, entering Wild Card Weekend on a four-game winning streak.
The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers will begin the playoff schedule, having faced off twice this year in the AFC North. The home team won by 20 points in each contest, and the Steelers will be at home on Saturday, after clinching the division in Week 17.
The Indianapolis Colts were dominant over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 7, winning 27-0 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Not only will Cincinnati try to get revenge for the early season defeat, but they are looking to avoid a fourth straight first-round playoff exit.
Sunday’s matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions might be the most anticipated of the first round. The two teams combined to win 23 games in the regular season, and they’ve totaled just one loss since Thanksgiving. The Cowboys are the biggest favorites on the schedule, giving the Lions a touchdown.
The Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers have byes in the NFC as the top two seeds, and they could be headed towards a rematch of the season opener. The New England Patriots beat the Denver Broncos by 22 points in Week 9, and the two clubs finished with the best records in the AFC.
The Las Vegas oddsmakers don’t expect any road team to advance to the second round, and no favorite is giving the underdog less than 3.5 points. The over/unders range between 39 and 49.5 points.
Below are the start times and TV channels for each contest, as well as the betting odds for every game on Wild Card Weekend.
Saturday, Jan. 3
No.5 Arizona Cardinals (+4.5) at No.4 Carolina Panthers, 39 (4:20 p.m. ET, ESPN)
No.6 Baltimore Ravens (+4) at No.3 Pittsburgh Steelers, 46.5 (8:15 p.m. ET, NBC)
Sunday, Jan. 4
No.5 Cincinnati Bengals at (+3.5) No.4 Indianapolis Colts, 49.5 (1:05 p.m. ET, CBS)
No.6 Detroit Lions at (+7) No.3 Dallas Cowboys, 48 (4:40 p.m. ET, FOX)