NFL Divisional Playoffs: Sunday’s Betting Previews

Frank Doyle | Updated Jan 12, 2013

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Battle of the Birds

There’s no question the Seattle Seahawks have a bright future. Marshawn Lynch has become one of the most consistent running backs in the NFL and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson looks to be a perfect fit for Pete Carroll’s offense. Seattle has an elite secondary and has the knack for pulling out close games already. The Seahawks could be the hottest team in the league right now and they match up really well with the Falcons. If you aren’t a believer already, it’s time to hop aboard the bandwagon.

This game is going to be won and lost on the ground. Atlanta can throw the ball all over the park most Sundays, but it’s not going to be that easy against a defence that allows just over 200 passing yards and 15 yards per game. Meanwhile, Lynch will face off against a Falcons club that’s allowing more than 123 yards on the ground per contest. “He basically gets it right almost all of time now,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said of Lynch. “He trusts the reads, he trusts the principles and philosophy of the run game and he’s been maxing out pretty much for a couple of years now.”

That’s not going to stop Sunday. Atlanta is a tough place to play, but I’m still leaning toward an outright Seattle upset with the Seahawks set as 3-point underdogs. Final score prediction: Seattle 23, Atlanta 17.

Pat on the Back

The Houston Texans are angry and embarrassed about the drubbing they took from the Patriots the last time they traveled to Gillette Stadium. They might be even more disgruntled Sunday evening. Current odds have the Patriots set as a 9.5-point favourite – a fat number against a Houston club that went 12-4 in the regular season while boasting one of the scariest defences in the league. They can churn out yards on the ground and are very tough to beat when they get an early lead.

But if you’re going to bet against Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots when they’re at home coming off two weeks of rest, you’re on your own. “A lot of what we talk about in our meetings is making sure that we’ve got everything covered,” Brady told reporters. “You spend extra time talking about every little detail of every little play. … The ramifications are different. We’ve got to be at our best.”

There are a few 9-point lines on the board right now and I’d jump all over the Pats in that spot. This line will likely climb before the kick. Final score prediction: New England 33, Houston 21.

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