The first weekend of the NFL playoffs was anything but typical. All four winners played at home and they also happened to be the favorites.
This also means that all eight teams playing this weekend are division winners. Just as a comparison, the last two seasons, the home teams had only won one of the four wildcard games each year.
The divisional playoff round results typically have a higher percentage of home teams winning than the wild card round. The reason for this is simple, a week off to rest and prepare for the game. Some people may think a week off is detrimental, but when you reach this stage of the season it is beneficial. The past three seasons the teams that had the week of rest were 8-4.
As far as we are concerned the wild card weekend was split. After starting off with a win in a low scoring Chiefs vs. Colts game, the Cowboys needed only to kick a field goal late to win, but a botched snap cost them the upset.
We now have only seven more games left this season and I thought it would be interesting to see how we could finish the year if a choice was made on every game.
The first game this weekend is the Indianapolis Colts at the Baltimore Ravens. Last week the Colts actually played a tremendous game shutting down the Chiefs' running game to win.
As impressive as the Colts were defensively, they only managed 23 points at home. Now they travel to face the second seeded Ravens who have only allowed 64 points in their last 7 games. The line on this game favors Baltimore by 4 1/2 with a total of 41. The pick here is to take the home team and lay the points; the Colts season will come to an end.
Saturday night we can watch the exciting New Orleans Saints host the red hot Philadelphia Eagles. The line on this game favors the Saints by 5 with a total of 48. Most people expect a high scoring shootout, and we may well just get that, but as we witnessed in week three of the season, when the Saints played their first home game against the Falcons, the crowd will be electric.
The Saints won that game 23-3, and while the score may change, the result for the Saints and their fans will not. Take the Saints and lay the points the emotion surrounding this game will carry the Saints to victory,
If you over-sleep Sunday morning and miss the first game, don't worry, you probably are not going to miss much. The Seahawks will be in Chicago to take on the Bears. The line on this game favors the Bears by 9 with a total of 37 1/2.
The Bears uncharacteristically went over in 11 games this year while the Seahawks went over in 10 games. Let's go with the over in this game and hope it becomes exciting. It also helps that it is the lowest total on the board this weekend.
The last game of the weekend is the Marty bowl; New England will be in San Diego to play the best team in the NFL this season, the Chargers. The line on this game favors the Chargers by 5 with the total set at 46 1/2.
The big question for this game is can head coach Marty Schottenheimer lead his team to the promised land? Marty has a history of coming up short in the playoffs. This should not concern a young and talented Chargers team, led by league MVP LaDainian Tomlison, whom the Patriots will have to focus on stopping.
Jason Kolenut is the Casino Fandango Race and Sports Book supervisor.