The dust has settled after 17 weeks on the NFL gridiron and now it’s time to separate the men from the boys.
The four matchups have been determined for Wild Card Weekend and oddsmakers are scrambling to set their lines. We chatted with Peter Korner, founder of Nevada-based oddsmaking service The Sports Club, about the opening odds for this weekend’s playoff games.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-8, 46)
Adrian Peterson’s career-high 34 carries led the Vikings to their fourth straight victory (4-0 ATS) Sunday to set up a rematch with Green Bay at Lambeau Field. Despite Minnesota’s hot run, Korner’s team of oddsmakers decided on a suggested spread of Green Bay -8 with home-field advantage in mind.
“We pumped it up a little,” Korner told Covers. “This is going to be a tough cover for Green Bay.”
Korner’s crew also suggested a total of 46, but that number could plummet rapidly depending on the weather conditions at Lambeau.
Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens (-4.5, 47)
This game features two teams heading in different directions. The Ravens stumbled into the playoffs, dropping four of their last five games while the Colts finished strong with victories over the Chiefs and Texans.
Korner’s team had this game between Ravens -3 and -6, but settled right in the middle at -4.5.
“We didn’t want to give bettors a deal,” says Korner. “Indy is not as good on the road.”
The heart and soul of the Baltimore defense will be back to pester Colts QB Andrew Luck in his playoff debut. Linebacker Ray Lewis (triceps) was activated from IR prior to Week 17 and will suit up for this one.
Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans (-5, 45)
The Texans had multiple opportunities to clinch a bye, but back-to-back losses dropped them to the No. 3 seed in the AFC to set up a date with the streaking Bengals.
“Cincinnati is hotter than hell,” notes Korner. “This one would have been Houston -7 or -8 a few weeks ago. But we had to account for how well the Bengals are playing, so we settled at Texans -5.”
The Bengals have picked up wins in seven of their last eight games, covering the spread in each of those victories.
Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins (+2.5, 45)
The Seahawks leave CenturyLink Field for a road playoff game in Washington. While they haven't been nearly as potent as visitors, they have proven they can win away from home and books are convinced, setting them as 2.5-point road favorites at FedEx Field.
"This is the team nobody wants to play right now," Korner says of Seattle. "Most of the money is going to be on Seattle. At this low number, you start thinking who is going to win the game straight up."
As for the total, The Sports Club opened with a higher number at 48, reflecting Seattle's recent offensive explosion.
We didn't want to get caught low with the way Seattle is performing," says Korner.