Saturday Playoff Tips
January 11, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
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The divisional round of the playoffs is set to kick off on Saturday afternoon with Peyton Manning making his Broncos' postseason debut against the Ravens. In the late action, the Packers and 49ers meet in the playoffs for the sixth time since 1996, while San Francisco tries to erase last season's NFC Championship letdown.
Ravens at Broncos (-9 ½, 46) - 4:30 PM EST
Last season, Denver found a way to reach this round thanks to a Tim Tebow overtime touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas to shock Pittsburgh in the Wild Card round. The Broncos' postseason ride came to a screeching halt in a 45-10 drubbing at New England, but Denver can possibly return to Foxboro with a victory over Baltimore on Saturday.
The Ravens (11-6 SU, 7-9-1 ATS) reached this round after taking care of old friend Chuck Pagano's Colts, 24-9 in the Wild Card round. Baltimore easily cashed as 7 ½-point favorites in Ray Lewis' final home game with the Ravens, as the defense held Indianapolis to just three field goals. Anquan Boldin hauled in 145 yards receiving and a touchdown, while Joe Flacco became the first quarterback in NFL history to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons.
Baltimore heads to the Rockies with plenty of revenge on its minds after the Broncos humiliated the Ravens in a Week 15 rout, 34-17. Denver cashed as short road favorites, while building a 31-3 advantage after three quarters, even though Manning threw just one touchdown pass (to Eric Decker). The Ravens were limited to only 56 yards on the ground, as Flacco connected on a pair of long touchdown tosses to Dennis Pitta late to make the score closer.
The Broncos (13-3 SU, 10-6 ATS) began the season losing three of their first five games, including losses to the Falcons, Patriots, and Texans. However, John Fox's club got the train back on the tracks by winning 11 consecutive games, while covering eight times in this stretch. Manning led the offense to at least 30 points in nine contests during this current hot streak, as the Broncos cashed the 'over' seven times.
John Harbaugh's team won seven of nine home games this season, but the highway took a slight detour on the record. The Ravens split eight road contests, as two of those losses came by less than three points at Washington and Philadelphia. Although Baltimore is 4-4 SU in eight away playoff games during Harbaugh's tenure, the Ravens have covered five times, including in last season's AFC Championship at New England.
Dating back to 2003, Manning has won and covered six of nine playoff home contests as a member of the Colts. Twice during this span, Manning defeated the Ravens ('06 and '09), as Baltimore's offense sputtered against the Indianapolis defense by scoring a combined nine points in those losses.
Packers at 49ers (-3, 45) - 8:00 PM EST
Green Bay and San Francisco have put together some epic performances in the postseason, including several classics at Candlestick Park. Gone are Brett Favre, Steve Young, and Terrell Owens, but this new batch of superstars will look to shine on this stage with a ticket to the NFC Championship on the line.
The 49ers are playing their third straight playoff game at home dating back to last season, as San Francisco sat one possession away from the Super Bowl. Jim Harbaugh's team held off New Orleans in a game for the ages in the divisional round, a 36-32 triumph as three-point underdogs. The Niners couldn't close the door on the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants in the conference title game, falling to New York, 20-17 as two-point favorites.
The quarterback that led San Francisco's resurgence isn't the same one this time around, as second-year signal-caller Colin Kaepernick started the final seven games for Alex Smith, who suffered a concussion in a Week 10 tie against the Rams. Kaepernick guided the Niners on a pair of touchdown drives in the deadlock with St. Louis, but his performance the following Monday night against Chicago cemented his position as the team's starting quarterback.
In Smith's nine starts, the Niners compiled a 5-4 ATS record, including a 2-3 ATS mark at Candlestick. After Kaepernick took over, San Francisco cashed four of seven times, but one of those non-covers came as a 16-point favorite in a Week 17 win over lowly Arizona. The key number with Kaepernick under center is the 6-1 to the 'over,' in his seven starts, but four of those 'overs' came with a closing total of 40 or below.
The Packers are flying under the radar following last season's 15-1 record and a threat at going undefeated in the regular season. Before San Francisco's heartbreaking setback to New York in the NFC Title Game, the Giants shocked the Packers at Lambeau Field, 37-20 as nine-point 'dogs. Green Bay rebounded with another NFC North championship this season by posting a 9-2 record after a 2-3 stumble out of the gate. Mike McCarthy's club cruised past the Vikings in last Saturday's Wild Card rout, 24-10 as 9 ½-point favorites.
Revenge is on mind of the Packers after dropping the season opener to the 49ers, 30-22 at Lambeau. San Francisco jumped out to a 23-7 cushion, including three field goals from David Akers. Green Bay received a jolt thanks to a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown from Randall Cobb to cut the deficit to 23-15 in the fourth quarter. The Niners put the game away with a Frank Gore touchdown run, as the Pack scored a late touchdown to fall by eight. San Francisco cashed outright as six-point 'dogs, while the game barely finished 'over' the total of 46 ½.
Aaron Rodgers is quarterbacking his eighth playoff game for the Packers (5-2 SU/ATS), as Green Bay has taken four of the first five contests played away from Lambeau Field. Since 2006, the Packers own a sterling 19-9 ATS record in the role of a road underdog, while splitting a pair of games in this situation against the Giants and Texans this season.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.
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