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The Colts will host the Bengals and the Steelers will host the Ravens in the AFC Wild Card Round this weekend. Denver and New England have both earned a bye through the first round of the playoffs.
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Indianapolis (11-5) won the AFC South while the Bengals (10-5-1) finished in 2nd in the AFC North. I’m not sure what to make of the recent play from Cincy, but I expect them to be ready for the Colts.
Since week 11 the Bengals have only lost two games and both were against Pittsburgh. It could just be that the Steelers have their number. If you take away those two losses Cincy is 7-3 against the AFC.
The loss last week hurt though, as Cincy would much rather be playing a home game. They’re 5-3 when on the road, so they’re not bad by any means, but the Colts have a strong 6-2 home record.
Andrew Luck has been sensational and the Colts rank 1st in passing yards (305.9 PYPG). Cincy is giving up 243.0 PYPG (20th) and 116.3 RYPG (20th), but they’re only allowing 21.5 PPG (12th) this season.
I expect Luck to have success through the air with his limitless number of weapons and it’ll prove to be too much. Cincy will have success on the ground where they’re averaging 134.2 RYPG (6th).
The Colts are worse against the run (113.4 RYPG – 18th) than the pass (229.3 PYPG – 12th). Jeremy Hill may break a run or two, but Luck is going to shred this secondary at home in the dome and Colts roll.
Pittsburgh (11-5) won the AFC North in the final week of the regular season and they’ll now get to play at home against the Ravens (10-6) who finished 3rd in the AFC North, but still won a wild card spot.
I like this game a lot from a betting standpoint. I’ll be on the Steelers to cover ATS. The home team is 4-0 in the L4 games when these two teams play each other and that trend isn’t going to change.
The Steelers dominated the Ravens (43-23) at home back in November. Pittsburgh finished off the regular season with a 6-2 record at Heinz Field and a 4-2 record against division opponents.
One of the big mismatches in this one is the Steelers pass offense (301.6 PYPG – 2nd) against the BAL pass defense (248.7 PYPG – 23rd). Roethlisberger should throw all over this secondary.
I’ve also been concerned with the way the Ravens offense has looked. They averaged 25.6 PPG (8th) during the regular season, but the last three weeks they’ve only averaged 17.7 PPG.
That has come against weak competition as well including the Jaguars and Browns. Joe Flacco will have to turn it around quickly or else Baltimore will be kicked out of the playoffs in short order.
Baltimore will look to establish their 8th ranked run game (126.2 RYPG), but the Steelers defense has stopped the run well all season and they’re only allowing teams to rush for 100.3 RYPG (6th).
I’ll be betting on the two favorite in the AFC to cover this weekend. Next weekend I could see one upset happening at the very least. If the Colts defense can hold up they’ll be dangerous in the AFC.