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

Vegas odds have the Denver Broncos beating the Indianapolis Colts by 7 points

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After the Colts put up 26 points in their Wildcard game against the Bengals, Vegas is expecting a shootout for the Colts-Broncos game with Denver winning by a touchdown in the Divisional round. The official line is DEN (-7) with a game total of 53 points.The odds are similar for the other Divisional round game with the Baltimore Ravens versus the New England Patriots whom are also favored to win by seven points.

This could of course change throughout the week, but there doesn’t seem to be any major injuries from either team that would move the line significantly. Check out the odds below and let us know what you think.

Indianapolis Colts
Denver Broncos -7

Over/Under 53 points

Bengals can’t overcome injuries, Indianapolis Colts will go on to face the Denver Broncos in AFC Divisional Round

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In the third game of Wildcard Weekend, the Bengals offense couldn’t overcome injuries to sidelined starters in A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham. Cincinnati was only able to score once, which was on a 1-yard goal line rush by running back Jeremy Hill in the first quarter.

The Colts offense looked sloppy at times with drops by T.Y. Hilton and multiple fumbles by Daniel “Boom” Herron, but Andrew Luck continued to make plays and find open receivers leading to him to pass for 376 yards and a touchdown. Despite the turnovers, Herron also contributed heavily in the victory, rushing 12 times for 54 yards and adding 10 receptions for 85 yards in the passing game.

The Colts will go on to face the Denver Broncos next Sunday (1/11) with a schedule start time of 4:40pm EST airing on CBS.

Nate Davis of @USAToday profiles which 2-0 teams are the real deal (hint – Arizona Cardinals are a Wild Card team)

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Since the NFL expanded its playoff field from 10 to 12 teams in 1990, clubs starting the season 2-0 have proven a solid bet to reach postseason having done so 63% (124 of 196) of the time.

The 2014 campaign has begun with seven 2-0 squads. Here’s an outlook for each:

Arizona Cardinals
Prediction: Assuming Palmer is OK, this team has enough talent to rise to second place in the division given the percolating issues in San Francisco and catastrophic circumstances in St. Louis. That will probably be good enough for a wild-card berth this year.

Buffalo Bills
Prediction: They’re still at least a year away from the playoffs, maybe more if the next owners sweep out the front office and coaching staff for hand-picked choices.

Carolina Panthers
Prediction: Four second-half divisional tests against the Saints and Falcons will be revealing. But it still feels like this team may not have quite enough juice to stay in contention with a loaded NFC field.

Cincinnati Bengals
Prediction: They’ll host another playoff game this season and will win it this time. But they’re probably not good enough yet to reach the AFC Championship Game.

Denver Broncos
Prediction: The Broncos have time to dial in and will know exactly where they stand heading into their bye week following this Sunday’s Super Bowl rematch in Seattle. But little reason to currently think Denver won’t again be among the NFL’s final four in four months.

Houston Texans
Prediction: If they can keep their injury report limited — Clowney is expected back in October — everything seems to be lining up for Houston to become the third consecutive team to make postseason the same year it drafted No. 1 overall.

Philadelphia Eagles
Prediction: They’ll retain their division crown. Whether QB Nick Foles — and/or the Kelly scheme — can deliver in postseason against a defense the caliber of Seattle’s or Carolina’s is still very much in doubt.

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Peter Clarke at @PlayerInsiders is up with his NFL Playoff predictions including Wildcard forecasts! (Chiefs?!)

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Peters Predictions:

NFC East – Philadelphia Eagles
NFC West – Seattle Seahawks
NFC North – Green Bay Packers
NFC South – New Orleans Saints

Wildcard 1: Carolina Panthers – I’m a sucker for a team with a great defense and this team has it. I fell in love with their defense so much last year that I coined the term on twitter #TheDefenseIsReal whenever they played. Who knows how they will score points with that offense, but I like Kelvin Benjamin and with Cam Newton aka Superman, anything is possible.

Wildcard 2: Arizona Cardinals – If you look at the 2nd half of the year for the Cardinals, there offense was one of the best in the league. Palmer would be on pace to throw for 4700 yards and almost 30 TDs. They have a top 10 defense. Their offensive line will be their biggest question..

AFC East – New England Patriots
AFC West – Denver Broncos
AFC North – Cincinnati Bengals
AFC South – Indianapolis Colts

Wildcard 1: Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs almost stole the division from the Broncos last year. This will be their 2nd year under Andy Reid and their defense, despite getting worn down at the end of the year last year, is for real.

Wildcard 2: Miami Dolphins – Last year I said the Dolphins were 1 year away. They almost went out there and got a playoff spot last year. This year, they will be running an offense similar to the Eagles and they have so good solid talent on both sides of the ball.

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New Article: Chargers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions all favored to be NFL Wildcard teams by Vegas

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Las Vegas sets lines(odds) for NFL teams to win or lose each week during the regular season. Some teams will be favorites to win games while others will be projected to lose.

One hidden gem Vegas also offers are odds for which NFL teams are likely to make the playoffs. Since Vegas isn’t in the business of losing money, the odds they set for these types of sporting events can be a good starting point if we are trying to determine what teams have the best chance of making the playoffs.

Below are Sportsbook lines for teams that are likely to make the playoffs:

San Diego Chargers +180
Detroit Lions +175
Chicago Bears +135
Pittsburgh Steelers +115
Cincinnati Bengals -105
Philadelphia Eagles -165
Indianapolis Colts -200
New Orleans Saints -225
Green Bay Packers
San Francisco 49ers -250
Seattle Seahawks – 360
Denver Broncos -500
New England Patriots -550

If you are looking at this list you’ll notice two things; The teams at the top are least favorite to make the playoffs while the teams at the bottom are heavy favorites to make the playoffs. Secondly, I have listed 13 teams when only 12 will actually get in. I have included 13 teams as they are the closest in terms of odds, while the rest of the NFL teams are heavy underdogs to make it into the playoffs.

So what can we learn from this list?

First, The Broncos and Patriots are very likely to make the playoffs. Secondly, The Seahawks, 49ers, Packers, Saints, Colts and Eagles and Bengals are are favorites or heavy favorites to make it in.

The interesting thing here is the Steelers, Bears, Lions and Chargers are all in the mix to make it into the playoffs as Wildcard teams. This is a pretty important distinction to make from the rest of the teams on the list, as it gives us a look into which NFL teams are expected to have the best record from their conference, but not necessarily win their division.

If the Divisions were expected to pan out the way these odds indicate, it would look something like this

AFC East winner – Patriots
AFC North Winner – Bengals
AFC West Winner – Broncos
AFC South Winner – Colts
AFC Wildcard Teams – Steelers, Chargers

Of note here is the Steelers are considered likely to be in the wildcard matchup, but are so close to the Bengals(in terms of odds) that either could end up winning the division and the other would get in as a wildcard team.

NFC East Winner – Eagles
NFC North Winner – Packers
NFC West Winner – Seahawks
NFC South Winner – Saints
AFC Wildcard Teams – (Two of Three) Bears, Lions, 49ers

The AFC is a lot of fun to look at. The Seahawks are favorites to win the NFC West which would mean the 49ers would have to get into the playoffs as a wildcard team, which would then knock out either the Bears or the Lions. The odds also indicate (+135, +175 respectively) that the Bears and Lions are very close to being in a dead-heat going in, even though only one is expected to make it in.

To wrap this up, these of course are predictions based on numbers set by people in Vegas, and are ever-changing based on many different factors that seem to pop up in the NFL. If we can view this list as a ‘Power-ranking-odds-system’ of what teams are projected to do, it can be a good starting point of what to watch for throughout the NFL regular season and how each week the playoff race may shape up.