Eight teams remain in the chase for the 2013-14 Superbowl title, and the first two of four Divisional games take place this Saturday

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Seattle Seahawks -7.5 at 20/23 Paddy Power versus the New Orleans Saints

New England Patriots -7 at 20/21 BetVictor versus the Indianapolis Colts

New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks

The Saints surprised many and won an away play-off game last weekend outdoors in the cold of Philadelphia, on the back of a strong defensive performance with a rushing attack that out-performed its regular season achievements. They now go to Seattle, the team with the biggest home advantage of any NFL team, and where they lost 34-7 a few weeks ago. They are 8 point underdogs on the spread.

The problems for the Saints here are many. Seattle has a punishing defense that typically takes away the opponent’s run game and forces them to throw to one of the best secondaries in the league. Seattle has had a bye week to rest and with an offense led by Quarterback Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch at running back they match up well with the Saints, giving the Seahakws the No.4 rushing offense in the league. The Saints were second against the pass in the regular season, but 19th against the run

This is a tough points spread. Instinctively +8 Saints looks interesting off last week’s performance but no team in 2013 had a better record against the spread than Seattle, who went 11-5. Before their win in Philadelphia, New Orleans covered the point spread just once on the road. With the match up as described above, the right play here is Seattle Seahawks -7.5 with Paddy Power at 20/23

Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots

The Colts won the game of the week last weekend in coming from 28 points back to beat the Chiefs 45-44 with a virtuoso performance from quarterback Andrew Luck helped by receiver T Y Hilton. Their reward is to renew rivalries with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Foxboro in the divisional round but for the first time with Luck as quarterback and thus it is a marquee match-up of two of the best Quarterbacks from different generations.

 

Brady didn’t put up record numbers this year, but he managed to lead one of the NFL’s top offenses while playing with limited weapons. The Patriots finished the season ranking third in scoring, despite a raft of injuries through the year from Gronkowski to Amendola, Edelman and others.

During the regular season, the Colts ranked 13th in defending the pass, but if this past weekend was any indication, Brady and company could have a big day on Saturday night. Indianapolis allowed Alex Smith to throw for 378 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Last season, Brady recorded a 127.2 passer rating in a 35-point victory over the Colts.

New England will have a distinct advantage by playing at home. They were one of three teams to go undefeated at home  this year. Because of their dominance at home, the Patriots are seven point favourites on the spread. New England covered the betting line six out of eight times at home in the regular season. My doubts about the Indianapolis defense, coupled with New England at home off a bye week lead me towards New England Patriots -7 at 20/21 BetVictor