Quarterback Drew Brees, #9 of the New Orleans Saints, looks to lead the defending champs back to the Super Bowl. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

NFL Playoff Picks Against The Spread: Wildcard Edition

The SB Nation Arizona "experts" combat the Vegas oddsmakers, picking against the spread for the NFL Playoffs wildcard round.

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NFL Playoff Picks Against The Spread: Aaron Rodgers vs. Mike Vick, Green Bay Packers vs. Philadelphia Eagles

It's finally here, the NFL playoffs -- that storied time where legends are made and reputations are won. The wonderful world of do-or-die football begins with the wildcard round this weekend and SB Nation Arizona has its own role to play. Our team of "experts" has been beating the spread consistently throughout the season, besting the Vegas odd-makers at their own game. We have already looked at three of the four matchups, and now conclude with what could be the most exciting game of all -- the Green Bay Packers versus the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Philadelphia Eagles -2.5 vs. Green Bay Packers

Both of these teams have run the gamut this season, having ranged from "they might not even make the playoffs" to "they might be the best team in the league". And now here they are, the last two seeds of the conference. Strange. But even stranger, the fact remains that winner of this game might actually be the favorite to win the National Football Conference. Somehow, that sentiment perfectly encapsulates this year's NFC in a nutshell.

The fireworks are sure to fly in this one. Two of the leagues top offenses -- of course, headlined by two of the leagues top quarterbacks -- battle in the chilly confines of Lincoln Financial Field.

The way the Packer's defense has looked of late makes the difference. As the year went on, teams somewhat began to understand how to make life hard on Michael Vick. You need a big, fast front seven headed by smart, aggressive linebackers who can hold contain. After witnessing this year's Clay Matthews Destruction Tour, I think its safe to say Green Bay falls under that category.

Through the last nine games the Packer's have held eight opponents to twenty or less points (New England was the only team able to break through), with five of those scores ending in the single-digit range. While it's not likely that the Philly will fall victim in a similar manner, there will be the moment (in what is sure to be a close game) where the defense will need to step up and make "the big play". The Packers have proven capable of doing that.

Prediction: Packers 45, Eagles 38. After falling behind early, Philadelphia mounts a comeback but it's too little, too late as Green Bay wins a shootout.

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NFL Playoff Picks Against The Spread: Upstart Kansas City Chiefs Look To Upset Baltimore Ravens At Home

It's finally here, the NFL playoffs -- that storied time where legends are made and reputations are won. The wonderful world of do-or-die football begins with the wildcard round this weekend and SB Nation Arizona has its own role to play. Our team of "experts" has been beating the spread consistently throughout the season, besting the Vegas odd-makers at their own game. We already looked at the two Saturday matchups, so now move into Sunday's pair, beginning with the Baltimore Ravens versus the Kansas City Chiefs.

Baltimore Ravens -3 @ Kansas City Chiefs

Let's get this out of the way, the Kansas City Chiefs are easily the surprise team of the year. A year removed from a 4-12 season, the Chiefs stormed out of the gate, compiled ten wins, and finally wrenched the AFC West crown away from the San Diego Chargers. Matt Cassel, Dwayne Bowe, and Jamaal Charles all had Pro-Bowl worthy years, and Arrowhead Stadium was rocking like it hadn't since the Priest Holmes days.

Yet, under inspection the Chief's record may not be quite what it seems.

85-138. That was the combined record of Kansas City's opponents. Not the toughest of schedules. The number of playoff teams the Chiefs beat: one. That team? The 7-9 Seattle Seahawks. To say KC had a cakewalk of a schedule is an understatement.

Meanwhile, the Ravens entered the season pegged as a Super Bowl favorite on the expectations of a monstrous defense finally being complimented by a capable, explosive offense.

But it didn't really work out like that. The Baltimore defense has been tremendously inconsistent throughout the season -- who can forget the Monday night game against Houston in which a tired Raven's defense allowed the Texans to storm back and score 21 unanswered points -- and the offense often still finds itself stuck in neutral despite the fact that it has roughly 156 playmakers.

The Chiefs do two things well: run the ball and play defense. Throughout the history of the NFL, that has been the recipe for playoff success.

Plus, it's never a good idea to bet against a home dog.

Prediction: Chiefs 23, Ravens 20. The home crowd fuels Kansas City to a narrow victory over the Baltimore. 

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NFL Playoff Picks Against The Spread: New York Jets Face Peyton Manning And The Indianapolis Colts On Saturday Night

It's finally here, the NFL playoffs -- that storied time where legends are made and reputations are won. The wonderful world of do-or-die football begins with the wildcard round this weekend and SB Nation Arizona has its own role to play. Our team of "experts" has been beating the spread consistently throughout the season, besting the Vegas odd-makers at their own game. We will look at all four of the wildcard matchups, the next of which is the New York Jets versus the Indianapolis Colts.

Indianapolis Colts -2.5 vs. New York Jets

In case you hadn't heard, Rex Ryan really wants this. Ryan's personal vendetta is well documented. The brash coach even went as far as proclaiming, "I say it personally: he has cost me two rings." Well no one ever mistook ole Rexy for the quiet type.

Still, bizarre revenge scenarios aside, this might actually be the year the Ryan gets his wish. The Colts have been more inconsistent this season than they have in other year of the past decade. The team is riddled with holes, and has been fraught with injuries from the get-go. 

While the Jets haven't exactly lit up the league week-in-week-out, their defense remains as stout as ever, finishing third overall in the NFL -- and more importantly -- sixth against the pass.

If there was ever a year that the Colts were susceptible to Ryan's schemes, this would be it. You can never doubt Peyton Manning when his back is against the wall (especially in a night game, where his record is incredible), but, as history has proven, one man can only carry a team so far. 

Prediction: Jets 20, Colts 17. Rex Ryan finally gets his revenge as the New York defense shuts down a depleted and flawed Indianapolis squad.

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NFL Playoff Picks Against The Spread: Drew Brees Leads The New Orleans Saints Into Qwest Field Against The Seattle Seahawks

It's finally here, the NFL playoffs -- that storied time where legends are made and reputations are won. The wonderful world of do-or-die football begins with the wildcard round this weekend and SB Nation Arizona has its own role to play. Our team of "experts" has been beating the spread consistently throughout the year, besting the Vegas odd-makers at their own game. Now we will look at all four of the wildcard matchups, starting with the Seattle Seahawks versus the New Orleans Saints.

New Orleans Saints -10.5 @ Seattle Seahawks 

It seems to me that this game is about as much of a "lock" as can exist in the unpredictable world of professional sports. The defending Super Bowl champs squaring off against the -- on paper -- worst playoff team in the history of the NFL. Hell, these two played earlier this year and it was a total destruction. Drew Brees threw four touchdowns on route to a 34-19 butt-whopping in the Superdome.

But still, in pro sports everybody always has a puncher's chance. Really, that's the beauty of it. The idea is anything can happen at any time is what keeps us all watching these games year after year.

The Seahawks' puncher's chance? The 12th man.

Qwest Field is well known as one of the loudest, most difficult places to play. If Seattle can build up some early momentum, their home crowd may be able to work wonders.

Though, it should be noted, if the biggest thing you have going for your team is the stadium, you're probably in trouble.

Prediction: Saints 31, Seahawks 17. In a game that is closer than most expected, Seattle keeps it close before New Orleans pulls away in the second half.

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