The NFL playoffs are set to begin on Saturday with the first day of games on wild-card weekend. All four wild card teams will be in action, as well as the No.3 and No.4 seeds in each conference.
According to the betting lines at most Las Vegas casinos, no team is favored by more than a touchdown.
Below are picks against the spread for the first round of the 2014 NFL playoffs.
Kansas City Chiefs (+2.5) at Indianapolis Colts
These two teams met in Kansas City in Week 16, with the Colts marching to an easy victory. Thirteen days later, they’ll face off again in Indianapolis. Having already shown that they can beat the Chiefs on the road, the Colts seemingly have the advantage at home. However, the Chiefs have been just as good away from Kansas City as the Colts have been in Indianapolis. Andy Reid was able to rest his starters in Week 17, and he’s been impeccable as a head coach in such situations. After a regular season bye week he’s 13-2, and his teams have never lost while having a bye in the playoffs. That trend may continue on Saturday.
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Prediction ATS: Kansas City
New Orleans Saints (+2.5) at Philadelphia Eagles
At home, New Orleans might be the best team in the NFL. On the road, they are no better than mediocre. Not only are the Saints 3-5 straight up on the road, but they are also 3-5 against the spread. Other than one slip up in Week 15, the Eagles have been unbeatable for two months. The Philadelphia rushing attack has been the best in the NFL, which should give New Orleans problems, who already has trouble stopping top running backs. In freezing temperatures, Drew Brees and company could be looking at a first-round exit.
Prediction ATS: Philadelphia
San Diego Chargers (+7) at Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals have been dominant at home. They are one of three teams that didn’t lose in front of their fans in 2013, and only one of those victories came by less than seven points, which is the betting line for their upcoming matchup. They already beat the Chargers by a touchdown, and that was in San Diego. Taking advantage of the 29th-ranked pass defense shouldn’t be too difficult for Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, the fifth-leading receiver in the NFL.
Prediction ATS: Cincinnati
San Francisco 49ers (-3) at Green Bay Packers
Now that Aaron Rodgers has returned, the Packers have reentered the conversation as one of the top Super Bowl contenders. Their wild-card weekend opponent, however, is not ideal. In last year’s playoffs, San Francisco eliminated Green Bay behind a record-setting performance from Colin Kaepernick. In the 2013 season opener, the 49ers defeated the Packers again. Things could be different this time with the contest set to be played in Green Bay. However, the 49ers are a much more balanced team, and their ability to handle the Packers should continue in the New Year.
Prediction ATS: San Francisco