Top Analyst Picks - NFL Wild Card Weekend
By Jonathan Lee and Bart Lopez
JON’S EXPERT PICKS
Houston Texans -3 vs. Cincinnati Bengals
The AccuScore computer is on the positive ledger picking games involving either of these teams ATS. The computer actually projects Houston to win on average by six points. The Bengals quite frankly have not been very good this season benefitting greatly from a soft schedule. Their best win is probably a Week 9 road win in Tennessee. The scary part about taking Houston is the potential of an appearance by Jake Delhomme, but T.J. Yates should be fine to play quarterback. Andre Johnson will also be back for Houston. The line suggests that the bookmakers just view these as equal strength teams, but I think the difference in schedule means Houston is better.
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Houston Texans vs. Cincinnati Bengals OVER 38.5 Points
The OVER in this game occurs in 56.6 percent of AccuScore simulations with the projected line being set at 41 points. The return of Andre Johnson should greatly help T.J. Yates and the rest of the Houston offense.
Denver Broncos +9 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
This pick comes with all sorts of caveats. I fully expect Pittsburgh to win, and it’s entirely possible (or even likely) that the game is a blowout. But the Steelers are seriously banged up with Ben Roethlisberger hobbled, Rashard Mendenhall out, and Ryan Clark being held out in the altitude. AccuScore projections show that the only way for Denver to win this game is to run the ball with Tim Tebow, and I fully expect them to go down trying to do just that. With this being a home playoff game, I think the Denver defense bounces back and the scoring in general should be low. The total line for this game is just 34 points. If the scoring is right around there it makes it difficult just mathematically for Pittsburgh to win by double digits. It also leaves room for Denver to backdoor cover with a meaningless late score. Officially AccuScore projects this game right on the same +9 line, but I would lean towards taking almost any home NFL playoff team with such a large spread.
BART’S EXPERT PICKS
New Orleans Saints -10.5 vs. Detroit Lions
I see this game being decided by two touchdowns. The New Orleans Saints are unstoppable at home in the Superdome. The greatest show on turf has scored more than 30 points in each of its last four games and didn’t lose all season in front of its fans. The Lions fell very short the last time these two teams faced, losing to the Saints 31-17 in New Orleans. New Orleans will score early and often on its way to a blowout.
Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants OVER 47 Points
This game will all come down to passing. Both teams rank in the top 10 in passing, and have great receiving duos in Atlanta’s Roddy White and Julio Jones and New York’s Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. Quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Eli Manning will decide this game with their arms, leading to a shootout that should safely clear 47 points. AccuScore predicts the total will be 52 points, which gives you a nice cushion. Also, the over pick has an AccuScore probability of 60.9 percent in addition to being a four star pick and a hot trend.
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