Indianapolis Colts (+7) at Baltimore Ravens
With the Ravens reeling (they’ve lost five of their last six), look for the Colts to rally behind head coach Chuck Pagano one more time. Though emotions will be high in Baltimore in the wake of Ray Lewis’ retirement announcement, the Colts enter Baltimore having won five of their last six and will look to take advantage of a depleted Ravens defense that has fallen to the bottom half of the NFL’s defensive ranks.
It’s a tough call, but I’m picking the Colts in a close one, 17-13.
Cincinnati Bengals (+4.5) at Houston Texans
Since disposing of the Buffalo Bills in week nine, the Texans have had a rough go with nearly every opponent they’ve faced. After overtime games against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions, the Texans went on to lose three of their last five games, including an embarrassing 42-14 loss to the New England Patriots.
Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bengals enter the playoffs having won seven of their last eight and surrendering an average of just 12.75 points per game.
Though Houston has looked less than stellar in the second half of 2012, I suspect the Texans will bounce back on the play of running back Arian Foster and a stingy defense led by J.J. Watt. Texans in another close game, 24-17.
Seattle Seahawks (-3) at Washington Redskins
This battle of rookie quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III could wind up being the most exciting game of this year’s playoffs. Both teams have enjoyed Cinderella seasons, faring far better than most expected.
Since their 23-17 overtime win in Chicago, the Seahawks have handled four of their last five opponents with ease, scoring over 40 points in three of their last four games and in excess of 50 points twice.
Similarly, the Redskins have won seven in a row, knocking off quality opponents like Baltimore, the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.
While the Seahawks have impressed this season, it’s difficult to bet against likely NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III. Redskins roll, 28-16.
Minnesota Vikings (+7.5) at Green Bay Packers
Despite a late season surge by the Vikings that included a last-second win against these very Packers, the NFL playoffs often tend to cater to teams with great quarterbacks. In the NFC Playoffs, there is no better quarterback than Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers. Though the Vikings’ Christian Ponder has been serviceable, it’s hard to believe Ponder will play a perfect enough game in a frozen Lambeau Field to give the Vikings a second-consecutive win against the Packers.
Even though Adrian Peterson has had an MVP caliber season and has excelled against the Packers throughout his career, Rodgers and the Packers should take this rematch, 31-20.