In order to get a better grip on these postseason matchups, we enlist the help of NFL expert bloggers, who give you one reason their team not only wins but covers the spread Saturday.
Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers (-6.5, 38)
KEY REASON ARIZONA COVERS
Jess Root writes for Revenge of the Birds. You can follow them on Facebook and on Twitter @revengeofbirds.
Despite the recent struggles, Arizona has been fantastic outside of the NFC West. They are 16-4 SU over the past two seasons outside the NFC West – 8-2 records in 2013 and 2014. Carolina’s four straight wins come against weaker opponents and Arizona has lost to very tough teams. Combine that with the fact both play low-scoring, physical games and Arizona blew them out last season, and there’s no reason to believe Arizona can’t at least cover the spread. It shouldn’t be surprising if they win straight up.
KEY REASON CAROLINA COVERS
Bill Voth writes for Black and Blue Review. You can follow them on Facebook and on Twitter @BlackBlueReview.
The Panthers are starting quarterback Cam Newton, who has never won a playoff game, but who has 30 regular season wins in 62 starts. The Cardinals are starting third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley, who has no career wins in two career starts. If Arizona tries to run the ball, the Panthers have allowed just one team to rush for at least 100 yards over their last seven games. The Cardinals have averaged 79.4 rushing yards over their last seven games.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3, 45)
KEY REASON BALTIMORE COVERS
Justin Silberman writes for The Purple Chaos. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter @ThePurpleChaos.
Although the Ravens are 0-3 at Pittsburgh during the playoffs, they haven’t dropped two games in a row against the Steelers since the 2010 season. The last time Baltimore and Pittsburgh met, the Steelers defeated the Ravens, 43-23, in Week 9 at Heinz Field. The Ravens have gained a lot of momentum since that loss, winning five of their last seven games to vault into the playoffs for the sixth time during the last seven seasons. In addition, the Ravens have won at least one postseason game during their last five trips to the playoffs.
KEY REASON PITTSBURGH COVERS
Neal Coolong writes for Behind the Steel Curtain. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter @BTSteelCurtain.
The Baltimore Ravens were kind of/sort of hanging around their Week 9 game against the Steelers. Then Antonio Brown happened. Brown finished the two games against Baltimore with 18 catches for 234 yards and a touchdown. He was targeted 28 times in those two games. The league’s best receiver is too much for Baltimore’s depleted secondary. He’s the reason the Steelers will not just cover the three-point spread, but will win this game.
Join the debate. Who covers in Saturday’s Wild Card Games?