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AFC Previews and Picks

Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) at Houston Texans (12-4)– Last season at this very weekend, the Cincinnati Bengals met the Houston Texans in the first round of the AFC playoffs. The Texans whipped the Bengals 31-10. Do you think the Bengals remember that? Of course they do. Do you think they are thrilled to get a second chance at this game? Sure they are.

The Bengals come into the game red hot. They have won seven of their last eight games. The Texans have lost three of their last four games. Other than that, these teams come into this game looking very similar.

The Bengals have Andy Dalton at quarterback who passed for nearly 4000 yards, had 26 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, while the Texans quarterback Matt Shaub, threw for just over 4000, had 22 touchdowns and 12 picks. Bengals running back Benjarvus Green-Ellis rushed for over 1000 yards as did the Texans Arian Foster. And they both have a big time wide receiver. The Bengals have A.J. Green while the Texans counter with Andre Johnson. Both teams are very good on defense as well.

The Texans were 6-2 at home this season while the Bengals were 6-2 on the road. This appears to be an evenly matched contest. If incentive and momentum mean anything, you would have to like the Bengals.

Bookmaker has the Bengals +4.5 -110 or +185. The Texans are -4.5 -110 or -215. Over/under is 43.5. We are going to go with the Bengals +4.5 and the over.

Indianapolis Colts (11-5) at Baltimore Ravens (10-6)- Could this be the last game for legendary Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis? It might be if he makes good on his claim that he is retiring after this season. In the second AFC South vs AFC North match-up of the weekend, the former residents of Baltimore, the Colts, will travel back to their original hometown to meet the Ravens. The Colts have spent the season surprising people with a rookie quarterback, Andrew Luck leading a team full of newcomers to win after win while their head coach, Chuck Pagano, has missed most of while undergoing chemotherapy. Pagano is back now and the Colts won’t be sneaking up on anybody anymore.

Baltimore’s Joe Flacco had a pretty good year throwing the football as well with nearly 4000 yards, 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Luck threw for over 4300 yards and 23 touchdowns, but had 18 picked off. With Ed Reed patrolling the secondary, that could be a factor in this one.

The Ravens also boast a 1000-yard running back in Ray Rice while the Colts leading rusher, Vick Ballard came in at just over 800 yards. Veteran Reggie Wayne had over 1300 yards receiving with five touchdown catches while T.Y. Hilton caught seven touchdown passes. Torrey Smith had over 800 yards with eight touchdown catches for the Ravens while Anquan Boldin had over 900 yards and four touchdowns.

The Colts come in winners of five of their last six games and nine of eleven. The Ravens have lost four of the last five.

Bookmaker has the Colts at +7 -120 or +270. The Ravens are -7 even or -320. Over/under is 47. This line seems to make no sense. The team with the better record and most definitely the hotter team is the underdog by seven points? But we are talking about a team with no playoff experience going on the road to face a team with a ton of playoff experience. And that matters.

But the Colts have been surprising people all year. They faced a game similar to this when they went to New England a few weeks ago. Let’s see if they learned anything.  We will take the Colts +7 and the over.


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