By Brad Carroll
The NFL postseason kicks off this weekend with a pair of games Saturday, Arizona at Carolina and Baltimore at Pittsburgh, and another two Sunday, Cincinnati at Indianpolis and Detroit at Dallas. We preview and pick each of those games against the spread below. To make actual wagers on this game and more, click here.
Arizona Cardinals (11-5) at Carolina Panthers (7-8-1)
Saturday, 4:20 p.m., ESPN
Betting Line: Cardinals, +6.5; Panthers -6.5
Panthers 27, Cardinals 24
Looking quickly at the respective records, this spread makes no sense. But the Cardinals have hit a wall as they have been forced to go with third-string QB Ryan Lindley after Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton were injured. The Panthers, on the other hand, have a losing record but are playing their best football of the season, winning their last four games following a string of six straight losses. The Panthers keep their winning streak going but the hard-luck Cardinals won't easily go away.
Baltimore Ravens (10-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)
Saturday, 8:15 p.m., NBC
Betting Line: Ravens +3.5; Steelers -3.5
Steelers 34, Ravens 27
It almost seems too good to be true that these two intense rivals get to match up in the playoffs. The Steelers will be without RB Le'Veon Bell, who was injured last week. That puts more pressure on QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR Antonio Brown. That connection has been tremendous, though. The Ravens snuck into the playoffs but have a championship pedigree. The teams split the two games in the regular season, both winning games by 20 points. Home field makes all the difference.
Cincinnati Bengals (10-5-1) at Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
Sunday, 1:05 p.m., CBS
Betting Line: Bengals +4; Colts -4
Colts 31, Bengals 21
Indianapolis beat the Bengals 27-0 at home earlier this season, so the four-point spread is a little surprising. The Colts have a high-powered offense led by QB Andrew Luck and WR T.Y. Hilton. The Bengals haven't won a playoff game since 1991. Cincinnati's chances rest on QB Andy Dalton, as he's been either been very good or completely terrible. Either way, the Colts will have more than enough to win this game.
Detroit Lions (11-5) at Dallas Cowboys (12-4)
Sunday, 4:40 p.m., FOX
Betting Line: Lions +7; Cowboys -7
Cowboys 28, Lions 17
Tony Romo has another chance to get the monkey off his back with a playoff win. He gets the perfect opportunity to do that at home against the Lions. The Cowboys have it all on offense, with RB DeMarco Murray, WR Dez Bryant and a great offensive line. The Lions won two of their final three games, losing to the Packers, but scored just 18.7 points per game. Calvin Johnson is one of the NFL's best WRs, however. The Cowboys might not win a Super Bowl, but they will finally get a playoff victory.