Kansas City @ Indianapolis (-1) 4:35 EST
Over/Under at 46
Andy Reid & Co. travel to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on the Colts in the first of four Wild Card games this weekend. The teams squared off less than 2 weeks ago in Kansas City, a game controlled from the start by the visitors.
The Colts possessed the ball for 38:20 compared to the Chiefs 21:40 as Andrew Luck threw for 241 yards while Donald Brown and Trent Richardson led the ground attack (135 yards in total) on their way to a 23-7 victory at Arrowhead.
Kansas City’s defense hasn’t been as stout as of late – their secondary play has suffered in part because their pass rush has fallen off, hampered by an ailing Tamba Hali. The Chiefs dropped Luck just once during that December 22nd game.
Meanwhile the Colts took down Alex Smith 5 times on his way to a 16 for 28 performance for 153 yards and 1 interception (57.6 passer rating).
The Chiefs will be playing without No. 1 overall pick, right tackle Eric Fisher who is out with a groin injury and that could hurt Kansas City’s running game. Look for the Chuck Pagano to invest plenty of resources to keep Jamaal Charles under wraps and dare the struggling Smith to beat them at home. Andrew Luck had success in KC and there’s little reason to think he won’t at Lucas Oil.
PREDICTION: Colts 27, Chiefs 20
New Orleans @ Philadelphia (-2 ½) 8:10 EST
Over/Under at 54
The Eagles, winners of 7 of their last 8 contests take a 4-game home winning streak to the comfy confines of Lincoln Financial Field. The Saints on the other hand, a team not known for traveling well, head to chilly Philly to try to improve upon a 1-4 road record against teams without a losing record and 3-5 overall away from the Superdome.
Philadelphia barely got by the Kyle Orton-led Cowboys (24-22) last week to win the NFC East. Tight end Jason Witten had his way with the Eagles 32nd ranked pass defense, snaring 12 balls for 135 yards. This week the Birds will attempt to slow down the league’s best tight end, Jimmy Graham, who has amassed 1,215 receiving yards and a whopping 16 TD’s.
The Eagles hope to dissect the Saints’ 4th ranked defense, 19th against the run, with a steady diet of RB LeSean McCoy. That will come as no surprise to defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s unit that is second overall against the pass and has sacked opposing quarterbacks 49 times, second only to the Panthers among playoff participants. That could spell trouble for the Eagles who have given up the most sacks (46) of all playoff participants.
The potential for a big day from the Saints front seven made worse by QB Nick Foles’ postseason inexperience and tendency to hold on to the ball too long, coupled with Drew Brees facing the NFL’s worst passing defense will be too much for the Eagles to overcome despite playing at home.
PREDICTION: Saints 31, Eagles 27