January 10, 2016

NFL Wildcard Weekend Handicap Betting Previews – Sunday 10th January by @tom_selwyn

Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings – TCF Bank Stadium at 18:05 live on Sky Sports 1

Another rematch in the first round of the playoffs sees the Seahawks return to Minnesota where they absolutely stomped the Vikings in week 13. I’ll keep this one simple; the Seahawks have far too much for the Vikings and should win comfortably again. Seattle -5.

The Vikings will have 3 of their best players back for this game in DT Linval Joseph, LB Anthony Barr and S Harrison Smith, who all missed the first matchup. Perhaps getting these 3, admittedly quality, players back will save the Vikings a TD or two, but they aren’t going to manufacture points against this Seattle defence.

The only points that Minnesota scored that day came from a Cordarrelle Patterson kickoff return TD. I’m sure the Vikings will give RB Adrian Peterson more than 13 carries this time around, but Seattle still ranks 1st against the run (81.5 yards a game). They also rank 1st in points allowed (17.3), 2nd in total defence (291.8 yards a game) and also 2nd against the pass (210.3 yards a game). It’s fair to say that the Vikings will have tough time putting up points once again.

This is especially true if the Seahawks offense continues to put up points like it has been doing. Along with their top ranked defence, they now boast an offense that ranks 4th in the league for both yards and scoring – very scary for opposing teams! QB Russell Wilson has put up 34 pass TDs this season and is playing the best he has in his already great career. That figure is also 20 more than Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater has this season.

The weather may be cold and the Vikings offense certainly can’t play any worse, but the Seahawks are markedly better in nearly every area – they should progress to the next round at the expense of the Vikings.

Handicap Betting Recommendation: Seattle Seahawks -5 at 2.05


Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins

The final game of the weekend is also the first unique matchup that we have in round one of the playoffs. Earlier in the week, the Packers were the favourites here and given the way that each team has been playing, I’m not sure why. Sadly the price has come in a fair bit, but I’ll still be backing Washington to win here.

The Redskins have certainly had an easier schedule than the Packers and overall you have to say Green Bay is still the better team, but on current form there’s no doubting who the better team is at right now. The Packers are coming having lost two games, while the Redskins are on a 4 game win streak.

Somewhat surprisingly, the QBs are also the reverse of what you think they would be. In the second half of the season, Redskins QB Kirk Cousins led the NFL in both completion percentage and passer rating, while Packers QB Aaron Rodgers ranked 32nd and 27th, respectively, in those categories. Ridiculous when you consider he’s a two-time MVP.

Of course this isn’t all Rodgers fault; he has been sacked 47 times this season and with the little time he has to throw, his receivers simply can’t get open often enough. They have also dropped far too many catches this season.

We’ve all been expecting the Packers to turn it around and they just haven’t been able to. There’s no-one other than Russell Wilson playing at a higher level than Cousins right now and with TE Jordan Reed and WR DeSean Jackson, they should have a little too much for the Packers to keep up with.

Handicap Betting Recommendation: Washington Redskins to Win at 1.98

Prices correct at the time of writing.

By @tom_selwyn

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