51°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Home teams might win in NFL playoffs, but covering is another story

Last week belonged to NFL road teams. The Titans, Vikings and Seahawks won outright in playoff games, and the Bills forced overtime before losing to the Texans.

Don’t count on that happening again this week.

But there are tickets to be cashed on the road warriors because of some attractive spreads. VSiN’s Steve Makinen pointed out teams that are plus 3½ to plus 9½ on divisional playoff weekend are 21-11-1 against the spread in the past 33 games. All four of this weekend’s road teams are priced in that range.

Vikings at 49ers

1:35 p.m. Saturday (KSNV-3)

Line: 49ers -7; total 44½

For me, the Vikings are the hardest road team to back because of the schedule. After their sensational performance in New Orleans, they play on a short week against a team resting and healing for two weeks. Huge edge for the 49ers, who are planning on the return of defensive end Dee Ford and linebacker Kwon Alexander.

The unknown is quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. He has played well, but this is his first playoff start. Remember, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson lost their first playoff games last season at home. Since 2013, first-time starting quarterbacks in the playoffs are 6-17 straight up.

Check the condition of Viking receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Thielen cut an ankle so badly in practice that he required stitches. Diggs missed two days because of illness.

49ers 27, Vikings 17.

Titans at Ravens

5:15 p.m. Saturday (KLAS-8)

Line: Ravens -9½; total 47

If Derrick Henry continues to terrorize defenses, Titans backers are cashing tickets. He smoked the Patriots for 182 yards rushing, allowing quarterback Ryan Tannehill to win his first playoff start despite going 8 of 15 for 72 yards.

The Ravens were upset by the Chargers in the first round a year ago, but this is a far more sophisticated offense than last season’s. Since their bye week Oct. 27, the Ravens are averaging more than 35 points a game. They defeated four playoff teams and covered every victory except for their three-point win over the 49ers.

The Ravens last lost Sept. 29, 40-25 to Cleveland. That was 12 victories ago.

Ravens running back Mark Ingram is nursing a calf injury, which could impact Jackson’s lethal array of option plays.

Baltimore 30, Tennessee 24.

Texans at Chiefs

12:05 p.m. Sunday (KLAS-8)

Line: Chiefs -9½; total 51

The Chiefs are the flavor of the weekend. Flashy quarterback, brainy coach and an improved defense. What’s not to like?

Well, let me take you back to Oct. 13. The Chiefs took a 17-3 lead over the Texans after the first quarter. The Texans then scored 20 consecutive points to take a 23-17 halftime lead. The Chiefs regained the lead 24-23 in the third. But Watson drove the Texans 93 yards in the fourth quarter, overcoming three penalties along the way and scoring the winning touchdown himself.

Making plays at crucial times is the key to winning games, and we watched Watson do it again last week when he rallied the Texans from a 16-0 deficit.

There is an injury concern with wide receiver Will Fuller, who didn’t play last week. The Texans need him to balance the field with DeAndre Hopkins.

Kansas City 30, Houston 27.

Seahawks at Packers

3:40 p.m. Sunday (KVVU-5)

Line: Packers -4½; total 46½

I might pick the Seahawks to win outright except for the weather; 23 degrees is the kickoff forecast at Green Bay.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson struggles in temperatures below 30 degrees. In three such games, he has thrown for four touchdowns and six interceptions, and his only victory came when the Vikings missed a game-winning field goal as time expired.

This game should be close because the Seahawks have perfected that art. Thirteen of their 17 games have been decided by one score, including last week’s win at Philadelphia.

Aaron Rodgers isn’t the Aaron Rodgers we once knew, but the Packers’ defense will cause problems for Wilson.

Green Bay 23, Seattle 17.

Brent Musburger hosts “My Guys in the Desert” from 2 to 4 p.m. weekdays on VSiN.com, SiriusXM 204 and from 5 to 7 p.m. on 920 The Game in Las Vegas.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Sports Betting Spotlight Videos
THE LATEST
Brent Musburger says Chiefs, 49ers headed to Super Bowl

Brent Musburger says the Chiefs will cover the 7-point spread against the Titans, and the 49ers will win but not cover the 7½-point spread vs. the Packers.

NFL’s wild-card weekend offers no safe bets

Nothing is more difficult to handicap than the NFL’s wild-card weekend. Three seasons ago, all four favorites won and cashed against the spread. Underdogs are 8-0 ATS since.

Raiders’ fate could be tied to Texans’ gameplan

Enter Texans coach Bill O’Brien. His team is currently the No. 4 seed, and its only chance of moving up is for the Chargers to upset the Chiefs.

Raiders still have outside chance to make NFL playoffs

Despite their penchant for thinking games are over at halftime and their rash of injuries to key players, the Raiders are not eliminated from the NFL playoffs.

Raiders need to slow ‘Mr. December’ Derrick Henry

In 14 December games, Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry has carried 225 times for 1,176 yards and 14 touchdowns. He ran for 149 yards last week at Indianapolis.

Chiefs’ inept defense gives Raiders hope in key AFC West game

This game presents the biggest coaching challenge for Jon Gruden since he left the broadcasting booth. His team is young, and its confidence was badly shaken last weekend.

Raiders can’t take Sam Darnold, Jets lightly this week

The Jets have been a mess for most of the year, but you cannot overstate how much quarterback Sam Darnold’s battle with mono earlier this season set the franchise back.

Raiders can take AFC West lead this week

If the Raiders (5-4) defeat the Bengals on Sunday and the Chargers upset the Chiefs (6-4) on Monday, the Raiders would vault into first place in the AFC West.