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OLR - Wild Card Weekend

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The NFL playoffs haven’t even begun yet and already we have a unique situation.

All four wildcard teams are favored on the road.

“I’ve never seen it where all four were favored,” said Mike Seba, a senior linesmaker for Las Vegas Sports Consultants.

Baltimore and Philadelphia were the biggest chalk each at minus three versus Miami and Minnesota, respectively.

Atlanta was in the minus 1 ½ to 2 ½ point range versus Arizona, while Indianapolis was minus 1 or 1 ½ at San Diego.

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Making it so unusual to have four playoff road favorites is oddsmakers often shade home teams even more during the post-season. Seba said home-field in the NFL during the regular season usually is worth 2 ½ to three points. In the playoffs, though, it goes up to 3 ½ points.

“I don’t think all four road teams will stay the favorite,” Seba said. “I could see one or two going off as underdogs.”

It’s not going to be Baltimore. LVSC sent-out Ravens minus 2 ½ to its Nevada hotel clients. The Ravens currently are minus 3, with many places using extra juice on the Baltimore side. This could mean a possible move up to 3 ½.

“The Ravens have been playing so well with a dominant defense and veteran leadership,” Seba said about making Baltimore a road favorite. “The Dolphins have been the beneficiaries of an easy schedule.”

Seba is surprised the Eagles have reached minus three. LVSC’s recommendation was Eagles minus one.

“I could never make Philadelphia three,” he said. “I could make them a slight favorite, but not that high. They were dead four weeks ago. Look what had to happen for the Eagles to even make it (Tampa Bay losing as two-touchdown favorites to Oakland and the Bears losing as three-point underdog to Houston).

“Two weeks ago the Eagles lost to the Redskins. They caught Dallas in disarray this week. It’s going to be hard to duplicate what they did to the Cowboys. The Metrodome crowd is going to be fired up.”

Seba believes San Diego should be favored at home against Indianapolis. He made the Chargers minus 1 ½. LVSC’s opening number was Colts minus 2 ½.

“I’m not sure how you can go against the Chargers,” Seba said. “They’re looking like the team we thought they were.”

The Chargers have won four in a row. But those victories have come against Kansas City, Oakland, Tampa Bay and Denver.

The Colts haven’t lost since October.

These two teams certainly know each other. The Chargers upset the Colts at Indianapolis in the playoffs last season, winning 28-24. The Colts nipped the Chargers at San Diego this season, 23-20, on a 51-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri on Nov. 23.

“You have two very evenly matched teams,” Seba said. “It’s just hard to go against the Chargers at home.”

Atlanta may not close a road favorite against Arizona. The Cardinals gained back lost momentum by beating and covering at home against Seattle on Sunday, while the Falcons barely got past a horrible St. Louis squad, 31-27, as 14-point home favorites.

“Before those games, I was thinking of opening Atlanta minus three, but now my thinking is closer to pick,” Seba said.

LVSC’s opener was Falcons minus 1 ½. Seba thought the game should have opened even.

“Matt Ryan has played well,” Seba said. “But he’s a rookie quarterback on the road. That’s a different animal in the playoffs.

“It’s different between Ryan and (Joe) Flacco because Flacco can get away with mistakes because he has such a strong defense behind him.

“It’s Kurt Warner versus Ryan. And you certainly have to give the edge to Warner.”

  
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