Betting information courtesy of 5dimes.com at the time of post (this blog has no affiliation with that site)
January 7, 2012: 16:30 EST
Cincinnati Bengals (+3, +170) vs. Houston Texans (-3, -185) O/U 38.5
Both teams are relatively unfamiliar with the playoffs, particularly the QB's who are unfamiliar with being professionals. As a Houstonian I would fear this game if a veteran team (say the Jets) were coming to town but the Bengals inexperience evens that factor out. These teams met once in the regular season and it came down to the very end (and some lucky bounces) for the Texans to pull it out. But that was in the Queen City. Houston should get an appreciable home field advantage, plus Andre Johnson playing full speed. Although there's a good chance he won't finish the game, the hammys are just so tender. I think the reliable Texans running game plus loud crowd plus healthy Texans defense wins the day. It will be close and low scoring. Final Prediction: Texans 20 Bengals 13.
January 7, 2012: 20:00 EST
Detroit Lions (+11, +490) vs. New Orleans Saints (-11, -580) O/U 59
On paper everyone agrees that the New Orleans Saints are too much of a juggernaut for the Lions to keep up with. The Lions do have the offense to stand toe to toe, but I can't disagree that the Saints, at home, the day before another certain game goes down in that stadium will not be at a loss for fan support. Drew Brees is such a great leader I don't see the team coming out flat. Combine that with a Lions team that is very playoff inexperienced and I smell a blowout. Lots of points for both teams, but this is probably the worst game to watch, it will be out of hand early. I'd give 5:1 odds that Suh gets ejected, I'm betting on the ejection. Final Prediction: Saints 41, Lions 21.
January 8, 2012: 13:00 EST
Atlanta Falcons (+3, +135) vs. New York Giants (-3, -145) O/U 47
I feel like the Falcons are positioned well in this matchup. The Giants had a lot of emotion last week riding on the game against their chief rival and might have trouble getting back up. The Falcons seem to be consistent and peaking. Also rested, their ridiculous blowout of the Bucs last week allowed key players to rest. The Falcons match up well on the corners against the Giants passing game and have offensive weapons and balance. Manning's play has been up and down, if it's up, he's like his brother and can't be beat. But I feel an off day. Final Prediction: Falcons 30, Giants 24.
January 8, 2012: 16:30 EST
Pittsburgh Steelers (-8, -375) vs. Denver Broncos (+8, +335) O/U 33.5
This is the game I have the least feeling for. I'm more than convinced that Roethlisberger is less than healthy, maybe closer to 50% than 100%. And his style of play requires him to get out of the pocket. I am also more than convinced that the Broncos couldn't score against grass at this point, and the Steelers defense is tougher than grass. The Steelers also lost Mendenhall and Pouncey is looking more and more questionable. Plus Ryan Clark sidelined. This seems like the Broncos might be able to use smoke and mirrors and some Tebow magic to pull this out. They're going to need some breaks and big plays in all phases but I'm leaning toward Broncos here. Final Prediction: Broncos 16, Steelers 13.
Gambling note: I'll assume some sort of uniform units on each of the above during a recap next week, but if I had to make three bets this week (let's say a parlay), I would go with:
Steelers vs. Broncos: Under
Falcons: Money line