The final eight teams remain in the NFL season with the four divisional round games this weekened each previewed below

Recommendations

Baltimore Ravens +7 at New England Patriots 20/23 Ladbrokes

Carolina Panthers +10.5 at Seattle Seahawks 10/11 William Hill

Green Bay Packers -6 versus Dallas Cowboys 10/11 William Hill

Denver Broncos -7 versus Indianapolis Colts 20/21 Ladbrokes

The winners of the four wild card games this weekend travel to the four teams who had bye weeks and are the top seeds in the two conferences this weekend

All four of the home teams are at least six point favourites, but beware thinking the weekend will be too one-sided. Since 2003, 5 and 6 seeds that made it through Wildcard Weekend are 15-5 Against the Spread in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs.

Saturday’s Games

Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots

Baltimore have a habit, season after season, of looking so so in the regular season and coming on strong in the play-offs. In large part this is because they are strong on both sides of the line which keeps them competitive particularly in winter weather.

For this game they are strongest (in pass rush with Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil) where the Patriots are weakest (in pass protection on the offensive line) and Baltimore have a strong run game too

That’s not to say that the Patriots should not be favourites, they are by seven points. Formidable at home, with the experience and talent of Brady and a wealth of offensive options it is just that this is a tricky match-up for the home side.

I expect it to be a very close game and will be on the Baltimore Ravens +7 points at 20/23 Ladbrokes

 

Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks

Reigning superbowl champions the Seahawks are a formidable prospect at home and are 10.5 point favourites at home to the Carolina Panthers. Seattle should win, it is not easy to see Carolina scoring a tremendous number of points against the excellent Seattle defense, especially if Cam Newton is as inaccurate as he was in the win against Arizona last weekend.

Against that though the Carolina run to the divisional round was founded not only on a resurgent running game but a defense that finally performed to its excellent standards of 2013. Strong up front and superb at linebacker they should be able to keep it close for a long time in this game

Total Points quotes are in the region of 40, so unsurprisingly it is expected to be low scoring. Seattle are 10+ point favourites, so Carolina are only expected to score 15 points or so. Hard to disagree with this, but not too easy to see Seattle scoring 24+ either

For these reasons, wouldn’t be surprised to see under 40 points and see the value in Carolina +10.5 points at 10/11 William Hill

Sunday’s games

Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers

Dallas won through to Lambeau field with a gutsy and controversial win over Detroit  and have a real challenge to progress further. Green Bay are 34-0 at home in the regular season since 2008!

It is a mouthwatering prospect. Cowboys/Packers will be first NFL playoff game in 42 years featuring an undefeated road team versus an undefeated home team.

Dallas are 6 point underdogs for the game, and this seems reasonable against the combined talents of Aaron Rodgers and his offense. They will be difficult to stop, especially as Dallas for all their effort and hustle, lack some talent on defense

To do so DeMarco Murray is critical. Cowboys need long drives to keep the Green Bay offense off the field. Aaron Rodgers in his last 16 home games: 68.4 completion percentage, 38 touchdowns and no interceptions. What will give Dallas hope is that Green Bay allowed 120 yards per game rushing this weekend and the Cowboys are definitely built to win these types of games on the road in cold weather

In the final analysis though I just expect Green Bay’s offense to be too potent in what could be a high scoring game. Green Bay Packers -6 at 10/11 William Hill

Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos

Indy and Andrew Luck travel to play their superbowl winning quarterback Peyton Manning and the Broncos in what is one of Manning’s last opportunities to win a second title and a first with his second team. The excellence of Luck and his offensive options gives Indy a puncher’s chance here but two issues are likely to be a huge problem. Firstly the absence of a consistent run game for a big road game to allow them to control time of possession and secondly the lack of game changers on defense to restrict Manning’s offense

With Denver able to test Andrew Luck and able both to run or pass the ball depending on the approach required I regard Denver as the best of the home favourites this weekend. In what is slated to be a game with over 50 points, I like Denver -7 at 20/21 Ladbrokes here 

Recommendations

Baltimore Ravens +7 at New England Patriots 20/23 Ladbrokes

Carolina Panthers +10.5 at Seattle Seahawks 10/11 William Hill

Green Bay Packers -6 versus Dallas Cowboys 10/11 William Hill

Denver Broncos -7 versus Indianapolis Colts 20/21 Ladbrokes