It is time for the NFL season to get serious as we enter wildcard weekend and it all gets under way with a mouth-watering AFC South match-up as the Indianapolis Colts travel to divisional rivals Houston Texans on Saturday.
The Colts have already been to the Lone Star state and won this season, part of their remarkable turnaround in form having been 1-5 at one point, only to end the regular season 10-6.
Indianapolis enter the play-offs as one of the form teams led by a resurgent Andrew Luck, who has thrown for over 4,500 yards on his return from a serious shoulder injury. The Colts have won four straight and already been in some do-or-die clashes, so have that experience of playing under intense pressure.
In contrast, Houston lost two of their last five matches and have had problems protecting quarterback DeShaun Watson, who is running out of receivers after injuries to Will Fuller and Demaryius Thomas.
These are two sides who were not expected to make the post-season clash in Big D in the early hours of Sunday morning, with the Cowboys hoping their excellent home record can see them through to the divisional round of the play-offs.
The Cowboys won seven out of eight at AT&T during the regular season as they clinched the NFC East but were bettered by the Seahawks in Seattle when the teams met in September.
On that occasion, Hawks quarterback Russell Wilson torched the Dallas defence, which has improved since, and is enjoying a career year. He has his favourite target in Doug Baldwin back for this game and is 2/1 to score a touchdown anytime.
With Dallas’ defence ranked in the top 10 and both offences favouring the run, taking the unders appeals in what should be a nip and tuck affair.
Baltimore Ravens went back to basics to win the AFC North, leaning heavily upon their defence and rushing attack to get them back on track after a mid-season wobble. The plan has paid off with the Ravens having the No.1 ranked defence in the NFL and the second-best rushing game, thanks to the emergence of Lamar Jackson.
The rookie quarterback has run for nearly 700 yards in his seven starts and can cause a good Chargers defence issues. The Ravens managed to contain Jackson relatively well when the teams met a fortnight ago when Baltimore ran out 22-10 winners.
However, his rushing ability might have a bearing on what could be a low-scoring affair in Maryland.
Finally, the defending Super Bowl champions Philadelphia Eagles make the trip to Chicago hoping Nick Foles can perform another miracle. Having guided the Eagles to the Vince Lombardi trophy last year, Foles went 3-0 to finish the regular season and secure a wildcard spot.
However, getting the better of a fierce Bears defence gearing up for their first play-off game in eight years could be beyond Foles and co. Chicago’s home record this season is excellent, winning seven out of eight and covering the spread in most of those victories.
While they are a little banged up on offence, the defence should make the difference for the Bears as they seek to knock the kings off their throne.
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