Bengals (+4 1/2) over TEXANS: Let's look at this game like one of the famous over-the-top, all-you-can-eat-as-long-as-you-don't-explode Las Vegas buffets, and pick a few dishes off the grill. First up - and most tasty - is a helping of revenge. At last year's postseason party, Cincinnati opened up and shut down at Houston, losing, 31-10, as a four-point underdog. Cincy QB Andy Dalton was horrible, throwing three interceptions, getting sacked four times, while finishing with an ugly passer rating of 51.4. Now that we have tasted the appetizer, let's get to the main course: What have you done for me lately? The Bengals come in on a gorgeous 7-1 run, while the Texans have dropped three of the last four. And lost in all the noise surrounding the very talented J.J. Watt, is Cincy's dynamic defensive duo. Geno Atkins (12 1/2) and Michael Johnson (11 1/2) combined for 24 sacks, helping to boost the Bengals' overall total to 51, the NFL's third highest, easily topping Houston's 44. Gotta go Cats.
PACKERS (-7 1/2) over Vikings: Like the way Minnesota finished up the season, but not really bowled over by the four-game winning streak against Chicago, St. Louis, Houston and Green Bay. Like the way Adrian Peterson rumbled for 199 yards on Sunday, but that was at Minneapolis. Now, the Purple People have to pack for the Frozen Tundra, where they have not had much success. The Vikings have dropped six of the last seven in Green Bay, which ain't really a shocker, since the Packers have a ridonkulous 22-3 record at home the last three seasons. Compare that with Minny's nasty 7-18 road mark and you see where we're goin'. And if you wanna talk "discount double-check," Aaron Rodgers has completed 74.7 percent of his passes with 16 touchdowns and only one interception in his last five games against Minnesota, for a 132.5 passer rating. Since they are working on a 4-0 spread run at Lambeau, gotta have the Pack.
Colts (+7) over RAVENS: Last week, it was "Chuckstrong." This week, it's "Chuck, ex-defensive coordinator of the Ravens." Before taking the head-coaching job at Indianapolis, Pagano was the secondary coach and defensive coordinator for 4 years under John Harbaugh. The Baltimore defense was rock-solid under Pagano, but slipped badly this season, all the way down to 17th in total "D," allowing 350.9 yards per game. Obviously, Pagano's intimate knowledge of the Ravens defense will be an enormous plus for the Horseshoes. Another plus: Baltimore has dropped four of the last five coming into this game. Then you have the spread records. The Colts tickled the cash register 11 times and missed only five (a five-way tie for the best mark in the NFL), while the Ravens covered only five of 16, topping only the sad-sack Eagles, who covered only four times. Rookie (Andrew Luck) vs. Hall of Famer (Ray Lewis)? Got the rook plus a TD.