The Wildcard Weekend schedule is set after the NFL closed out week 17 with a full 16 games Sunday. The NFL playoffs are a cash cow for the sportsbooks that cater to the North American market. In the next few weeks, sportsbooks will take in their most single-game action of the year.
In the AFC, the New England Patriots (1 Seed) already had the top seed clinched but Bill Belichick didn’t let up as New England crushed the Miami Dolphins 38-7. The win gave Bill Belichick his fourth 14-2 or better season of his career. It moved him past 49ers legend George Seifert for the most 14 or more win seasons in a coaching career. The Patriots will take on the lowest seed advancing from the AFC’s Wildcard weekend.
The Pittsburgh Steelers (2 Seed) wrapped up a first round bye with a 41-9 destruction of the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers (12-4) tied with the Ravens but won the AFC North by virtue of the tiebreaker. The Steelers take on the highest seed advancing from the AFC’s wildcard weekend.
New York Jets (6 Seed)@ Indianapolis Colts (3 Seed) – January 8, 2011 – 8pm EST
In a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship game, the Indianapolis Colts (10-6) take on the New York Jets (11-5). The Colts shook off a midseason hiccup and rose to the third seed in the AFC, thus avoiding a dreaded matchup with the Patriots until the AFC Championship game. The Colts were the three seed when they won the Super Bowl in 2006. The Colts open as -2½ point favorites to be the Jets.
Baltimore Ravens (5 Seed)@ Kansas City Chiefs (4 Seed) – January 9, 2011 – 1pm EST
The Baltimore Ravens (12-4) finished the season tied for the second best record in the AFC but by losing the ceding the AFC North to the Steelers, they’ll need to start on the road against the AFC West Champion Kansas City Chiefs (10-6). The Raven’s are the chalk laying -3 points.
In the NFC, the Atlanta Falcons (1 Seed) wrapped up the top seed with a win over the Carolina Panthers, finishing with an NFC best 13-3 record. The top seed for the Falcons could mean bad news for the rest of the conference, as Falcons QB Matt Ryan is 20-2 at the Georgia Dome in his career. The Falcons play the lowest seeded advancing from the NFC’s Wildcard weekend.
The Chicago Bears (2 Seed) had nothing left to play for Sunday but that didn’t stop them from playing their starters Sunday against
the Green Bay Packers. It didn’t help as the Bears (11-5) lost 10-3, allowing Green Bay to snag the six seed in the NFC playoffs. They’ll have a week off to regroup.
Green Bay Packers (6 Seed) @ Philadelphia Eagles (3 Seed) – January 9, 2011 – 4:30pm EST
The Packers (10-6) finished tied with the New York Giants and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but gained the final NFC playoff spot via the strength of schedule tiebreaker. They’ll begin the playoffs in Philadelphia to take on the Eagles (10-6). The Eagles rested everyone Sunday as they had the NFC East locked up. This gave Michael Vick an extra week to rest his battered body. The Eagles open as -3 point favorites.
New Orleans Saints (5 Seed) @ Seattle Seahawks (4 Seed) – January 8, 2011 – 4:30pm EST
The defending Super Bowl Champions, the New Orleans Saints (11-5) begin on the road as they travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks. The Seahawks clinched the NFC West Division crown Sunday night with a win over the Rams. The win gave Seattle a record of 7-9, which makes them first team in NFL history to qualify for the postseason with an under .500 win/loss record. The current line on this game has the Seahawks as 10½ point dog and they should be getting even more points by game time.