NFL Tipsheet: Mini previews and recommended bets for the divisional play-offs

Could this be the end of the road for Peyton Manning?

Luca Bercelli correctly predicted three out of four NFL wild card games last week. It's the divisional play-offs next, and he's looking to nail a full set. 

"American football is a mind game, and the best minds in the game are all up in New England. It's not easy playing chess with 300-pound testosterone-filled millionaires but Bill Belichick and co seem to have mastered it"

Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots
Saturday 21:35

American football is a mind game, and the best minds in the game are all up in New England. It's not easy playing chess with 300-pound testosterone-filled millionaires but Bill Belichick and co. seem to have mastered it. In fact, Belichick becomes the joint most successful post-season coach ever with a win here, and I'm pretty sure he'll get it. My top five reasons why New England will win this game are: 1. Bill Belichick, 2. Darrelle Revis, 3. Tom Brady, 4. Rob Gronkowski, 5. Chandler Jones. To be honest Brady has been generally way below par this season, but he's a gamer and with the cast around him, he won't let this one slip away. I expect he'll get stronger through the post season, and may well cap it with another ring.

Recommended Bet
Back the New England Patriots -6.5pts @ 1.981/1

Carolina Panthers @ Seattle Seahawks
Sunday 01:15

Carolina's defense looked lively in the wild-card win against the Cards with linebacker Luke Kuechly outstanding. It'll be fun to see what he can do against Russell Wilson, because if you can sow any kind of doubt in the little big man's mind, you're taking away a big percentage of Seattle's offence. But who are we kidding, this should be a cakewalk for the Seahawks...unless, and this is the only thing that can give Cam and co a chance, the officials do something about Seattle's over-physical play. They've managed to get away with it all season but after last week's officiating fiasco in the Dallas game, the microscope will be firmly on them, and all the other crews. Tough to keep it real amid Seattle's home crowd madness, and they'll probably bottle it. If they do, Seattle should cover the spread.

Recommended Bet
Back the Seattle Seahawks -10.5pts @ 2.01/1

Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay Packers
Sunday 18:05

Dallas plus 6.5 points looks like a great bet to me. They rode their luck against Detroit last week (heck, even the president thought the infamous 'non-call' was dodgy), but they will be lining up on Sunday, and taking on a team whose quarterback is odds-on IMO to not finish the game. Aaron Rodgers has a slight calf tear and I don't care what he or anyone who's had a sniff of medical school says, his lack of mobility will be a huge factor. The more I look at this, the more of a good match-up it is for the ten-gallon hat brigade. In the running back department it's a draw with Lacy more than a match for Murray. But look at the receivers: for Green Bay, Cobb has been a model of consistency but Jordy Nelson has been quiet lately, and tight-end Andrew Quarless is usually invisible. Compare that with Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Cole Beasley. Yep, in a battle of superstar quarterbacks, I'll go with the one on two legs aiming at an in-form receiving corps. 

Recommended Bet
Back the Dallas Cowboys +6.5pts @ 1.9110/11 Best Bet

Indianapolis Colts @ Denver Broncos
Sunday 21:40

Why is no one saying it? Peyton Manning has looked awful in the latter half of this season. Yes, awful. So bad, in fact that the coaching staff seem to have lost all confidence in him and now use the old fella as not much more than a hand-off machine. If the Broncos win, it'll be the defense and running game that does it. If they lose, I can see the old fella calling it a day and riding off into the sunset. Put it this way, if Andrew Luck was Denver's quarterback, I'd make them absolute certainties; with Mr Manning back there, the picture is a lot cloudier. I think the pressure's on him and his patented 'pocket panic' could have another starring role. Don't forget that it was only two games ago versus Cincinnati that he threw four interceptions. Whatever happens, the spread is a very inviting one...tuck in.

Recommended bet
Back the Indianapolis Colts +7pts @ 1.9720/21

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