This coming weekend might be my favorite football weekend of the entire calendar year. I suppose Week 1 of the regular season is always a special event, but the first slate of NFL Playoffs games each year is always entertaining to watch, even if the Pittsburgh Steelers are out of the playoffs, or as is the case this year, have a first-round bye. Let's check out the NFL lines and odds for this coming weekend (Lines courtesy of Odds Shark, SB Nation's odds partner.)
New Orleans (-10.5) at Seattle
New York Jets (+3) at Indianapolis
Baltimore (-3) at Kansas City
Green Bay (+2.5) at Philadelphia
-P- There's really no good reason to think this, but a small part of me thinks New Orleans might have a bit of trouble this coming Saturday at Qwest Field in Seattle. The atmosphere will be rowdy, the air will likely be cold and wet, and who knows what kind of randomness might unfold on the Seahawks' home turf in a one-game 'do-or-die' situation with the defending champion Saints. The Seahawks will need to force multiple turnovers and dominate on special teams if they want to win. But neither of those developments are that far fetched. Seattle has been good on special teams all year, and for as great as Drew Brees is, he has been turnover-prone this year. My pick: I like New Orleans to win, but not cover the 10.5 points on the road.
-P- Saturday's late game is a dandy. The polarizing Jets travel to Indy to take on the legendary Peyton Manning, who will have a great opportunity to prove he's more than just a regular-season quarterback if he were to lead the Colts to a couple of wins in this year's playoffs. This game's going to come down to the play of Mark Sanchez. If he's good, the Jets should have a great shot at winning. If he's not, the Jets might have a hard time holding off Manning and the Colts offense in crunch time. My pick: I'd personally shy away from this one, and instead perhaps bet the over (44 points).
-P- Lock city: If you're the gambling type and in Vegas to make a bet, go big on Baltimore. The Ravens are flying under the radar this past few months, but really I think they're built for a playoff run provided Joe Flacco plays at a fairly high level. More importantly in this matchup, I just don't think the Chiefs are playoff-ready just yet. Impressive year for Todd Haley and his squad, but the Ravens have been down this road many times whereas a boatload of Chiefs will be making their first playoff appearance. My pick: Ravens by 10+
-P- Upset special of the weekend for me is the Packers over the Eagles. Michael Vick has been battered and bruised for much of the second half of the season, and without him playing at an exceptionally high level, the Eagles really aren't the complete team that many pundits and fans have made them out to be. Vick has a way of making everybody around him look better than they really are - at least when he's on. But for what it's worth, I think the magical comeback year for Vick will come to an end. My pick: Green Bay to win outright.