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Into the wild card round we go. Joe Fortenbaugh

January 02, 2014
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Four games, four point spreads, zero movement. Since the team at the LVH sports book here in Las Vegas hung the opening numbers for this weekend’s slate of wild card action, not one contest has experienced even the slightest of adjustments, save for the San Francisco 49ers, who went from -2.5 (-110) to -2.5 (-120) for Sunday’s tilt at Green Bay.

I hope everybody enjoyed their day off on Wednesday, because we’ve got some work to do prior to Saturday’s first kickoff.

REGULAR SEASON

Home teams: 132-119-5 (.525)
Favorites: 136-115-5 (.541)
Home dogs: 42-46-1 (.477)
Home favorites: 90-73-4 (.552)
Overs: 135-119 (.531)

CLICK HERE to check out all of the current lines.

Kansas City Chiefs (11-5, 6-2 road) at Indianapolis Colts (11-5, 6-2 home)

When: Saturday, 4:35pm ET
Open: Indianapolis -2.5/46.5
Current: Indianapolis -2.5/46.5
Weather: Indoors

Analysis: The first playoff game of the new year features a Week 16 rematch that saw the 7.5-point favorite Kansas City Chiefs fall at home to the Indianapolis Colts, 23-7. For all the talk about Andy Reid’s new-look Chiefs—who finished the regular season an impressive 11-5—Kansas City enters postseason play having dropped five of their last seven matchups while surrendering an average of 27.7 points per game during that stretch. That being said, the Chiefs did post a 7-1 ATS mark on the road this season and are well rested thanks to a meaningless Week 17 game at San Diego last Sunday.

Andrew LuckLuck is 12-4 ATS at home since entering the league in 2012.

Indianapolis has played some erratic football since losing wide receiver Reggie Wayne midway through the season, but the Colts are riding a three-game winning streak and are 5-1 ATS at home over their last six games. In addition, Indianapolis is now 13-3 straight-up and 12-4 ATS at home since drafting quarterback Andrew Luck in 2012. Note that this will be Kansas City’s first dome game of the season.

Trends: Kansas City is 2-6 ATS over their last eight games against teams with a winning record, while Indianapolis is 5-1 ATS over their last six home games against teams with a winning road record.

New Orleans Saints (11-5, 3-5 road) at Philadelphia Eagles (10-6, 4-4 home)

When: Saturday, 8:10pm ET
Open: Philadelphia -2.5/55
Current: Philadelphia -2.5/54
Weather: High of 32 degrees, low of 25 degrees, less than 5% chance of precipitation, winds out of the south at eight miles per hour.

Analysis: There’s no such thing as a good loss, but there is such a thing as a reality check. Riding a five-game winning streak that resulted in a spot on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the Eagles went to Minnesota in Week 15 and got smacked around by Matt Cassel and the Vikings to the tune of a 48-30 beat-down. But Philadelphia responded quickly with a 54-11 throttling of the Chicago Bears the following week and then a 24-22 win-and-in victory at Dallas last Sunday. The Eagles are cooking with gas, having won seven of their last eight contests (5-3 ATS), but you have to wonder about quarterback Nick Foles, who appeared a bit overwhelmed in the big spot in Big D just four days ago.

Drew BreesIt's a much different story when the Saints are forced to go outdoors for a road game.

When it comes to the Saints, the first topic of conversation has to revolve around the team’s struggles on the road in 2013. New Orleans went 3-5 straight-up and 2-6 ATS away from the Superdome this year, with a -37 point differential and -6 turnover differential. And the team fares even worse outdoors, where after opening the season with a 16-14 win at Tampa Bay and 26-18 win at Chicago, it’s been all downhill. New Orleans choked in New England (30-27), made a mess of things in New York against the Jets (26-20), got blown out in Seattle (34-7) and dropped a must-win at Carolina (17-13).

But despite the fact that New Orleans is 0-6 ATS over their last six road contests, this line hasn’t budged one bit in Philadelphia’s favor. Perhaps the sharper bettors are leery of an Eagles team that just left their guts on the field in Dallas last Sunday, or maybe they’re waiting to see if a +3 with Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees hits the board in the near future. Either way, it won’t be easy backing the Saints knowing full well what happens when this team heads outdoors.

Trends: New Orleans is 2-5 ATS over their last seven games overall, while Philadelphia is 3-10-1 ATS over their last 14 games against teams with a winning record.

San Diego Chargers (9-7, 4-4 road) at Cincinnati Bengals (11-5, 8-0 home)

When: Sunday, 1:05pm ET
Open: Cincinnati -7/46.5
Current: Cincinnati -7/47
Weather: High of 39 degrees, low of 10 degrees, 95% chance of precipitation (snow/rain), winds out of the south at nine miles per hour.

Analysis: Not even the Seattle Seahawks experienced the level of home success the Cincinnati Bengals have enjoyed in 2013. Marvin Lewis and company enter January having posted a perfect straight-up and ATS record at Paul Brown Stadium this season, winning by an average of 17.6 points per game. That dominance was on full display last Sunday against a Baltimore Ravens team that was in a must-win situation, where the Bengals somehow overcame four turnovers to dismantle the defending champs 34-17. Cincinnati is now 11-1 ATS over their last 12 home games, 5-1 ATS over their last six games overall and 5-0 ATS over their last five games against teams with a winning record. However, it hasn’t been all roses for the AFC North champs, who are 0-4 ATS over their last four playoff contests.

Marvin LewisMarvin Lewis and the Bengals were unstoppable at home during the regular season.

Mike McCoy’s upstart Chargers shocked the league with a 9-7 regular season campaign that has the Bolts back in the playoffs for the first time since 2009, but this team struggled mightily and needed an assist from the officials against Kansas City’s B squad in Week 17 to earn a trip to the postseason. The upside is that the Chargers are 7-3-1 ATS over their last 11 road outings. The downside is that San Diego is 3-9-1 ATS over their last 13 contests following a victory.

Expect Cincinnati to function as the most popular six-point teaser play this weekend. As for the side, are you more confident in the lights out regular season Bengals showing up this weekend, or do you think we’ll see the same hapless playoff Bungles we’ve come to know and love under head coach Marvin Lewis?

Trends: San Diego is 1-5 ATS over their last six games played on turf, while Cincinnati is 10-1 ATS over their last 11 games played on turf.

San Francisco 49ers (12-4, 6-2 road) at Green Bay Packers (8-7, 4-3 home)

When: Sunday, 4:40pm ET
Open: San Francisco -2.5/49
Current: San Francisco -2.5 (-120)/47.5
Weather: High of 4 degrees, low of -15 degrees, 20% chance of snow, winds out of the northwest at nine miles per hour.

Analysis: Aaron Rodgers returns from injury, Aaron Rodgers does Aaron Rodgers-type things, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers qualify for the playoffs. Granted, the superstar quarterback looked a bit rusty in his return to the gridiron at Chicago last Sunday, but Rodgers found a way to make the requisite amount of plays necessary to escape Solider Field with a win. Now, Green Bay must turn their attention to a familiar foe in San Francisco, who has won and covered the number in each of the last three meetings between these two franchises dating back to Week 1 of the 2012 season.

Colin KaepernickCan Kaepernick elevate his game in the frigid Wisconsin weather on Sunday?

One of the most well-balanced teams in the league, the 49ers are 7-0 ATS over their last seven road games and 34-17-1 ATS over their last 54 games overall. But while the defense is still a top-5 unit, San Fran’s offense and, most notably quarterback Colin Kaepernick, has taken a step in the wrong direction this season. That’s a justifiable concern to have when talking about laying points on a road team headed into the frigid January conditions of Lambeau Field.

Still, if there was ever a time for Kaepernick to elevate his game to the level we saw in 2012, it would be this weekend against a Clay Matthews-less Packers defense that ranked 25th in total defense (372.2 yds/gm) and 24th in scoring defense (26.8 pts/gm) this season. Green Bay is 0-5 ATS over their last five home games and 2-7 ATS over their last nine games overall, while San Francisco is 6-2 ATS over their last eight January games and 10-4 ATS over their last 14 games against NFC opposition.

Trends: San Francisco is 27-10-1 ATS over their last 38 games played on grass, while Green Bay is 1-5 ATS over their last six games played on grass.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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