Wildcard Weekend Recap: Injuries, injuries, and more injuries

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wildcardrecapOne way to sum up NFL Wildcard Weekend for 2015? Injuries. Third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley couldn’t provide any spark to an already Andre Ellington-less Cardinals offense. The Pittsburgh Steelers offense severely lacked any rushing attack with the absence of Le’Veon Bell. The Bengals lost two starting offensive weapons in A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham. It shouldn’t be a surprise that each of these teams lost. Additionally, those three teams’ offenses combined for a total 43 points, meanwhile, the Panthers, Ravens and Colts combined for 83 total points.

The Detroit-Dallas game didn’t feature any injuries to key players and thus turned out to be a shootout with the Cowboys winning 24-20.

The Cowboys will face off against  the Green Bay Packers next SUNDAY at 1:05pm EST on FOX.

The rest of the divisional round is

Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots – SATURDAY 4:35pm EST on NBC

Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks – SATURDAY 8:15 pm EST on FOX

Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos 4:40pm – SUNDAY EST on CBS

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are 7-point favorites to beat the Baltimore Ravens

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Las Vegas made their odds available for the Patriots versus Ravens Divisional round playoff game and their statement is pretty clear: Ravens are going to get whooped-on.

Baltimore is a touchdown underdog to New England in what is expected to be a shootout with more than 48 points potentially scored. Check out the official line below:

Baltimore Ravens
New England Patriots(-7)
Over/Under total: 48.5 points

Steelers offense sputters, Baltimore Ravens win Wildcard and will face New England Patriots next Saturday

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A late touchdown by the Pittsburgh Steelers wasn’t enough to overcome the stout Baltimore Ravens defense in the second Wildcard game on Saturday.

The Steelers offense sputtered for most of the game, putting up three field goals until a Justin Foresett fumble led to a Ben Roethlishberger-to-Martavis Bryant touchdown pass with 11:01 in the fourth quarter.

Pittsburgh’s fate was all but sealed after a Big Ben interception led to Joe Flacco(18/29 for 259 yards, 2 TDs on the night) throwing a touchdown with about eight minutes left to tight end Crockett Gillmore.

The Ravens went on to win 30-17 and will face the New England Patriots next Saturday(1/10) at 4:35pm EST on NBC.

Predictions for all NFL Wildcard games via Fansided

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No. 6 Baltimore Ravens (10-6) at No. 3 Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)

Both teams’ antennas will be up even more since this is a rivalry game and bragging rights are on the line. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have a 16-13 or 20-16 type game, however this one will come down to Flacco and Ben and giving how each has played this season, I’m siding with Ben on this occasion – plus he’s got the home-field working in his favor too.
Pick: Steelers 34-24

No. 5 Cincinnati Bengals (10-5-1) at No. 4 Indianapolis Colts (11-5)

Luck (led league with 40 TD passes) is obviously the best player on the field and having that guy on your team should alone make the Colts the slight favorite, although he can’t single-handily carry the Colts to a championship. Yet, I’m a big believer in “Sooner or later this team is going to get over the hump and get the job done after always being in the playoffs and suffering loss after loss” that applies to the Bengals losing three straight years in the Wild Card game. The Bengals are due to win at least one playoff game this year being that this is their fourth year in a row in the playoffs. No, I don’t think the Bengals are going all the way but I think they will find a way to win this game – no matter how sloppy and ugly it might be.
Pick: Bengals 27-23

No. 6 Detroit Lions (11-5) at No. 3 Dallas Cowboys (12-4)

his game will be a battle of who can control the line of scrimmage and even with Suh in the lineup; I can’t vision a scenario where the Lions front four will have success slowing down Dallas’ well-oiled running machine with the league’s leading rusher in DeMarco Murray. The Lions passing game isn’t as scary as in year’s past but is still more than capable of making the Cowboys defensive backs sweat some, but to what extent. This game is all about Dallas in my opinion. Their focused, in a zone, and are just a more complete football team that can hurt you in more ways than the Lions can. I applaud the Lions for overachieving this season but the Cowboys are playing like a team on a mission and a team that is looking to erase the “Will find a way to choke in a Big Game” stigma that has been following this team the last five years. This is a different Cowboys team folks and there out to show that in the playoffs.
Pick: Cowboys 41-20

No. 5 Arizona Cardinals (11-5) at No. 4 Carolina Panthers (7-8-1)

While Arizona has the more talented secondary (Patrick Peterson, Antonio Cromartie, Tyrann Mathieu), Carolina possesses the better front seven led by 2013 Defensive Player of the Year Luke Kuechly. The question I’m asking myself is, “Who’s playing better going into this game?” and the answer is Carolina. They’ve won four in a row and Arizona has lost the last two games. You can only go but so far with a third-string quarterback at the helm and I think the Cardinals will reach their breaking point in this game. They don’t generate enough points and the Panthers defense has played as good as anyone the last month. Cam will put up just enough points at home to win this game. Arizona’s luck will run out.
Pick: Panthers 21-16

Read the whole slideshow on Fansided

A preview of the Baltimore Ravens – Pittsburgh Steelers game by NFL.com

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The backstory

The Steelers won their last four games to take the AFC North, with their defense rounding into form late in the season. The Ravens won three of their last four, but their offense struggled down the stretch. Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell’s recent injury is one of the rare things in this game not trending toward the Steelers.

Matchup to watch

Steelers receivers vs. Ravens cornerbacks

Veteran Baltimore cornerback Lardarius Webb has played better of late, but he’s not back to his pre-injury level of play.

Steelers O-Line vs. Ravens defensive line

The return from suspension of Ravens nose tackle Haloti Ngata gives the Ravens defense a huge boost.

Stats

The Steelers were 5-1 against playoff teams in 2014, while Baltimore was 1-6 against teams with winning records. The Steelers averaged 34 points-per-game against playoff opponents. … Pittsburgh has won both playoff games against Baltimore since Flacco was drafted. Flacco has more road playoff wins than any quarterback in NFL history. … Flacco and Roethlisberger are 19-8 combined in the playoffs.

Full Story on NFL.com

NFL playoff picks and analysis for Wild Card Weekend via the Washington Post

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NFC: No. 6 Lions at No. 3 Cowboys (Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET)

The Cowboys went only 4-4 at home this season, compared to 8-0 on the road. The Lions certainly have the offensive capabilities to give the Dallas defense trouble. But it feels like the Lions had their chance Sunday in Green Bay to set themselves up for greater postseason success, when Rodgers exited the game for the NFC North title before returning later, and squandered it.

Pick: Cowboys

NFC: No. 5 Cardinals at No. 4 Panthers (Saturday, 4:35 p.m.)

The chances of Drew Stanton returning for the playoffs probably were eliminated when he was forced to undergo arthroscopic surgery for an infection in his injured knee. So while the Cardinals are a solid all-around team with a superb coach, it’s difficult to rely on a quarterback with two career touchdown passes and 11 interceptions — Lindley’s regular season totals — to win a playoff game.

Pick: Panthers

AFC: No. 6 Ravens at No. 3 Steelers (Saturday, 8:15 p.m.)

The key could be Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. The former Super Bowl MVP struggled mightily in the first three quarters against the Browns on the heels of a miserable outing a week earlier at Houston. But he threw two touchdown passes and had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in the fourth quarter Sunday against Cleveland.

Pick: Ravens

AFC: No. 5 Bengals at No. 4 Colts (Sunday, 1:05 p.m.)

Quarterback Andy Dalton makes his fourth playoff appearance for the Bengals and seek his first postseason triumph. His top wide receiver, A.J. Green, exited the game Sunday night in Pittsburgh and now is subject to the NFL’s concussion protocol, meaning that he must be cleared by an independent neurologist to practice and play.

Pick: Colts

Read the whole article at Washington Post

Vegas has the Pittsburgh Steelers as favorites to win against the Baltimore Ravens – even with Le’Veon Bell’s status unknown

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Big Ben and the Pittsburgh Steelers have one thing going for them — they are favorites to win against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Wild Card game on Saturday. It’s unclear whether stud RB Le’Veon Bell will be able to play after suffering a hyper-extended knee, so this point spread could go even higher, maybe placing the Steelers as favorites by a full touchdown if Bell ends up starting. What is clear is that Oddsmakers in Las Vegas expect Pittsburgh to win the game, placing them firmly into the next round to face off against the New England Patriots. Check below for the official line:

Baltimore Ravens
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3)

Over/Under 47 total points