“Huge wild-card audience surely means more wild-card games” – @ProFootballTalk

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In March, the NFL’s owners likely will vote to expand the playoff field from 12 to 14 teams.  That would mean two more games in the wild-card round, an increase from four to six.

Which would mean 50 percent more games that America watches by the tens of millions.  Specifically the four wild-card games generated an average audience of 29.9 million, even though one of the games was on cable.  The FOX game between the Lions and Cowboys had an average audience of 42.3 million, with a peak of 48.3 million viewers between 7:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. ET.

Read full article on PFT

Cam Newton leads the Carolina Panthers to first playoff win in nine years

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Cam Newton led the Panthers to their first playoffs win in more than nine years with a 27-16 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Newton went 18-of-32 for 198 yards and two touchdowns adding five rushes for 35 yards. Running back Jonathan Stewart helped on the ground rushing for 123 yards and a score. The Cardinals, led by third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley, looked lost at times. The Arizona offense was only able to muster 78 total yards in defeat, but were kept in the game by defense and special teams plays which included recovering a muffed punt and picking off Newton once.

Carolina will move on to the divisional round to the play the Seattle Seahawks if the Dallas Cowboys win, or will play the Green Bay Packers if the Detriot Lions win.

There’s still time for you to get into NFL.com’s free Fantasy Football Playoff League for a chance to go to the Superbowl!

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The Panthers are favorites to beat the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday

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Panthers QB Cam Newton and Oddsmakers in Las Vegas have one thing in common; they don’t care about records. Vegas is making this clear as they have listed the Panthers as five-point favorites over the Cardinals. Check out the odds below.

(Saturday 1:30pm) Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers -5
Over/Under 38 total points

Full NFL Wildcard weekend schedule with exact times, days and channels

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UPDATED:

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Saturday, Jan. 10

AFC Divisional Game 1
(1) New England Patriots vs. (6) Baltimore Ravens, 4:35 p.m. CBS

NFC Divisional Game 1
(1) Seattle Seahawks vs. (4) Carolina Panthers, 8:15 p.m. FOX

Sunday, Jan. 11

NFC Divisional Game 2
(2) Green Bay Packers vs. (3) Dallas Cowboys, 1:05 p.m. FOX

AFC Divisional Game 2
(2) Denver Broncos vs. (4) Indianapolis Colts, 4:40 p.m. NBC

Championship round

Sunday, January 18

NFC: FOX, 3:05 p.m.

AFC: CBS, 6:40 p.m.

Super Bowl XLIX

Sunday, February 1

NFC champion versus AFC champion (FOX, 4:30 p.m.)

NOTE: Above game times are Pacific(west coast), game times below are Eastern(east coast)

NFL Wild Card Weekend

Saturday, Jan. 3
NFC: 4:35 PM (ET) Arizona at Carolina (ESPN)

AFC: 8:15 PM (ET) Baltimore at Pittsburgh (NBC)

Sunday, Jan. 4
AFC: 1:05 PM (ET) Cincinnati at Indianapolis (CBS)

NFC: 4:40 PM (ET) Detroit at Dallas (FOX)

In Vegas, the Dallas Cowboys are favorites to win against the Detroit Lions

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If you believe the Oddsmakers in Las Vegas, who are some of the smartest mathematicians in the world, they believe the Dallas Cowboys will beat the Detroit Lions by a touchdown in the second NFC Wildcard game on Sunday. The over/under and spread of the game is as followed:

Lions at Cowboys -7,
Over/Under 48 total points

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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