The NFL playoffs are upon us, and after an eventful final day of the season, which saw Baltimore and Indianapolis pip divisional rivals Pittsburgh and Tennessee to the playoffs, the big guns get a week off whilst the wildcard round takes place.
With four thrilling matchups lined up, our NFL expert guides you through the best bets from this weekend’s playoff fixtures.
Houston v Indianapolis
This all AFC South matchup is the first playoff game, and could really set the tone for an exciting January.
Andrew Luck has been in inspired form since returning from injury this season, and the Indianapolis defence has been one of the league’s best units, whilst remaining under the radar.
Houston have won 11 games this season, but stumbled their way into the playoffs eventually, dropping games to both the Eagles and the Colts, whilst not looking overly impressive for a while.
The Texans are at home, and slight favourites at 4/5, but momentum is with the Colts and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them leave NRG Stadium with a victory, which can be backed at evens.
In the NFL big name players step up in big games, so count on Ty Hilton to score 2+ touchdowns at 6/1.
Dallas v Seattle
This game features two teams who were 4-5 leaving week 10, and ended up storming through the second half of the season to both end up 10-6.
Both sides are in fantastic form, and Dallas’ midseason pickup of Amari Cooper looks like really shrewd business. If this game was in Seattle, you could chalk it up as a Seahawks victory, but, like the Hawks, the Cowboys are really good at home.
A real battle of possession game, with two excellent defences and exciting talent across the board, it is sure to be an excellent game. Dallas are 4/6, and Seattle are 11/10, but a safe bet would be over 42.5 points, which is available at 10/11. This game has a close 23-21 written all over it.
Baltimore v Los Angeles Chargers
Baltimore changed their QB midseason to untested rookie Lamar Jackson, completely revamped their offence, and literally ran their way through teams en route to the playoffs.
The Chargers are the complete opposite and have one of the most experienced QBs in the league at the helm of one of the most dynamic, balanced attacks. Philip Rivers, Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon III form a genuine triple-headed monster and are tough to stop.
Baltimore are favourites at 8/13, and have home advantage, but I can see nothing but a comfortable Chargers win here, available at 5/4.
Chicago v Philadelphia
The dominant Chicago Bears face off against Philadelphia in the final game of the weekend, and this should be the most one-sided.
Chicago have an offense that can score in bunches, and the meanest D in the league. Philadelphia have suffered a serious Super Bowl hangover, and stumbled into the playoffs off the back of Nick Foles’ stellar play as a substitute for Carson Wentz.
Chicago are a team with serious championship expectations, and I expect them to win comfortably. They are 2/5 to win here, but offer good value with -6 handicap, at 10/11. Philadelphia are comfortable outsiders at 7/4.
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