Packers (+1) over CARDINALS
When Arizona found out before its Week 17 kickoff that its chance for a first-round bye was history, it played - or should we say, did not play - accordingly. Kurt Warner played only two series, before Matt Leinart mopped up. It'll be a different group of Cards on Sunday, but after looking at their body of work this season, we just don't get that warm fuzzy feeling about them that we had last year in the playoffs. And possibly going in without WR Anquan Boldin (sprained ankle), as well as injuries to cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and defensive end Calais Campbell, is bound to have an effect on 'Zona. We are getting a warm fuzzy feeling about this Green Bay team, which has the best defense in the NFC and comes rolling into this rematch on a gorgeous 8-0 spread run. It ain't gonna be a blowout like Sunday, but the Packers are best bet of the weekend as they roll into the second round.
BENGALS (-2) over Jets
Rex Ryan is turning out to be more colorful than his dad Buddy, saying that the Jets are the favorite to win the Super Bowl. Guess Rex hasn't been to Vegas, where the odds on the New Yorkers' winning it all are 50-1, last among the 12 playoff teams. Much has been made of the Jets' win at Indy and the bagel given to Cincy, but these two teams basically mailed it in. And can Carson Palmer do any worse than 1-for-11, zero yards, and one interception? Don't think so. The Bengals played their starters, yes, but they knew the rematch with New York was a possibility, so they were not gonna give away anything. The four crucial elements that put me on Cincinnati are: 1) homefield advantage; 2) Cedric Benson, who rushed for 1,251, is back; 3) Mark Sanchez, the Jets' rookie QB who has thrown for 12 TDs and 20 picks; and, 4) New York's leading tackler, David Harris, has a sprained ankle.
Ravens (+3) over PATRIOTS
Here's what we know: Wes Welker, Tom Brady's lifeline, and the league leader with 123 receptions, is gone with a knee injury. He will be replaced by Julian Edelman, a rookie who played quarterback at Kent State. If Edelman beats me, I'll rip up my betting slip with a smile. Here's what we're not sure about: Brady could have anywhere from one to three broken ribs, a possible broken finger, and some kind of shoulder tweak. Still, he's Tom Brady, so we'll keep a wary eye out for any late injury news, and possible line move. Baltimore comes in with a pretty healthy squad, including the return of OT Jared Gaither, a vital cog in the running game. With the dynamic duo of Ray Rice (1,339 yards rushing and 78 receptions) and Willis McGahee, Joe Flacco should be able to keep the Ravens close enough to win on a late field goal or cover.