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Seattle defeated the Cowboys in their only regular season meeting – back in Week 3

Super Bowl outright odds (As of Jan. 3)

New Orleans Saints: 3.60
Kansas City Chiefs: 5.60
Los Angeles Rams: 6.00
New England Patriots: 6.75
Chicago Bears: 10.00
Baltimore Ravens: 14.00
Los Angeles Chargers: 16.00
Houston Texans: 20.00
Seattle Seahawks: 24.00
Dallas Cowboys: 24.00
Indianapolis Colts: 26.00
Philadelphia Eagles: 30.00

The National Football League playoffs begin Saturday with a pair of games, as Wild Card weekend kicks off the road to Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta.

Andrew Luck and the surging Indianapolis Colts visit the Houston Texans in a showdown of AFC South foes, before the Seattle Seahawks visit the Dallas Cowboys in the first NFC Wild Card game.

Sit back as we break down all four matchups for this weekend.

Point Spread odds (As of Jan. 4)

Seattle Seahawks +2.5 (1.85)
Dallas Cowboys -2.5 (1.95)

Seahawks and Cowboys

The Seahawks and Cowboys met early in the season, with Pete Carroll’s group earning an 11-point win at home.

They’ll meet Saturday evening in the NFC Wild Card game – in Dallas this time, with the Cowboys listed as 2.5-point home favourites. They’ve been dominant at AT&T Stadium this year with a 7-1 record, which was certainly a factor in winning the NFC East Division and locking up the fourth seed in the conference.

A lot has changed since the Seahawks and Cowboys clashed at CenturyLink Field back in Week 3.

That was really the moment when the Seahawks established (or re-established) their identity as a run-first offence, with Chris Carson getting 32 carries for 102 yards. He would hit the century mark for rushing yards in six different games this season as the feature back in the offence.

For the Cowboys, it wasn’t until later in the season that they experienced a transformation on offence. Lacking a true threat at the receiver position, Dallas paid a heavy price to acquire Amari Cooper from Oakland in a mid-season trade. In nine games with Dak Prescott as his quarterback, Cooper had 725 yards receiving and six touchdowns, although he’s entering the playoffs with only 83 total yards receiving over his last three games.

The Seahawks, as a team, led the NFL in rushing this year with an average of 160 yards per game. The Cowboys had the fifth best defence against the run, allowing only 94.6 yards on the ground per game. They did allow 12 rushing touchdowns, which tied them for 10th fewest in the league.

Meanwhile, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott led the league in rushing this year, which could pose a problem for Seattle. The Seahawks gave up 113.2 yards rushing per game – an average of 4.9 yards per carry. Only two defences allowed more yards per carry than the Seahawks.

Both teams rely on running the ball – and have been successful with it – which makes being able to limit the run an emphasis for both defences.

As of Thursday, the Seahawks had Money Line odds of 2.05 to win and provide the upset. Total Points for Saturday’s playoff game was set at 42.5, with the Over favoured at odds of 1.80. Recent trends have the Over as 6-2 in the Seahawks last eight playoff games.

As of Thursday afternoon, about 68 per cent of the money was on the Seahawks to win, with 65 per cent of money wagered on Seattle to cover the spread. The Seahawks were 9-5-2 against the spread this season, while the Cowboys are 3-8 against the spread in their last 11 playoff games.

Colts and Texans

Point Spread odds (As of Jan. 4)

Indianapolis Colts +1.0 (1.95)
Houston Texans -1.0 (1.85)

This matchup is a perfect example that it’s not necessarily how you start the season, but how you finish.

The Indianapolis Colts began the year with five losses in their first six games. The Houston Texans started the year with three straight losses.

Both teams overcame those slow starts – that’s an understatement – with Houston winning nine in a row from Week 4 to Week 13 and the Colts losing only once in their final 10 games of the season. It sets up what should be a close game on Saturday – the first of the Wild Card games this weekend.

These teams split the season series, with the Texans taking the first game in a high-scoring affair, and the Colts getting a measure of revenge with a win – in a slightly more defensive matchup – in Week 14. In both cases, the margin of victory was three points. The Colts enter this game as slight one-point road underdogs, with Money Line odds of 2.00 to win.

Meanwhile, the Texans have Money Line odds of 1.80 to win at home.

Point Spread odds (As of Jan. 4)

Los Angeles Chargers +3.0 (1.85)
Baltimore Ravens -3.0 (2.00)

Chargers and Ravens

Quite the storyline heading into Sunday’s AFC Wild Card game. Philip Rivers, the Los Angeles Chargers quarterback, is 37 years old. On the other sideline, rookie QB Lamar Jackson will become the youngest ever QB to start a playoff game at 21 years and 364 days old, per the NFL.

The Chargers go into this matchup as 3-point underdogs on the road with Money Line odds of 2.30 to win at

While Jackson has provided a spark to Baltimore’s offence since taking over for Joe Flacco mid-season, the Ravens defence should pose all kinds of trouble for the Chargers.

Baltimore’s defence gave up the fewest yards per game (292.9) and the second fewest points per game (17.9). They also made life miserable for the Chargers offence back in Week 16, giving up only 10 points and holding Rivers to 181 yards passing, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. Chargers running back Melvin Gordon, who dealt with injuries late in the season, was kept in check with only 41 yards rushing and the one touchdown.

Total Points is currently 42.0 for this game at, with the Under favoured at odds of 1.82. The Under is 6-1-1 in Baltimore’s last eight Wild Card games.

Eagles and Bears

Point Spread odds (As of Jan. 4)

Philadelphia Eagles +6.5 (1.90)
Chicago Bears -6.5 (1.95)

While the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers faltered dramatically during the season, the Chicago Bears emerged as NFC North winners and can now knock off the defending Super Bowl champs from Philadelphia in Sunday’s Wild Card finale.

The Bears enter the game as 6.5-point home favourites, facing Nick Foles, last year’s surprise Super Bowl MVP on an underdog Eagles team that would not be denied in their quest for a championship despite the odds stacked against them.

Philadelphia’s Money Line odds to win were 3.30 at as of Friday, with Total Points set at 41.0 and odds of 1.91 for both the Over and Under.

The Bears finished the season in the top 10 in the league with 26.3 points per game on offence – a significant jump from the previous year when they were 29th in the league. It is, however, their defence that should worry the Eagles.

Formidable is probably the best word to describe the Bears defence.

Chicago surrendered the fewest points per game (17.7) this season, and allowed the third fewest yards (299.7). They also had two defensive backs, Kyle Fuller and Eddie Jackson, in the top five in the league for interceptions with seven and six, respectively. Then you add the dominant, game-changing ability of defensive lineman Khalil Mack to the equation.

That is a vaunted defence in Chicago.

You know the old adage in sports. Will it ring true this year?

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