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 Sunday.
Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts (-3.5, 48.5)
KEY REASON CINCINNATI COVERS
Mickey Mentzer writes for Cincy Jungle. You can follow them on Facebook and on Twitter @CincyJungle.
The Cincinnati Bengals not only cover, but win. The main reason will be the resurgence of the running game with rookie Jeremy Hill. The Colts have been struggling stopping the run and no running back has more rushing yards since Week 8 than Hill. In the first matchup Hill only got four carries.
KEY REASON INDIANAPOLIS COVERS
Kyle Rodriguez is a senior writer and assistant editor at The Colts Authority. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter @ColtsAuthority.
The Colts will win and cover against the Bengals on Sunday because the defense is primed to beat quarterbacks like Andy Dalton. While Dalton has his moments, he struggles under pressure, throwing for just a 57.3 passer rating while under pressure this year. The Colts don’t have a great individual pass rusher, but they are ninth in Adjusted Sack Rate because of some creative blitzes and stunts installed by defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. Throw in Dalton’s 1:6 touchdown to interception ratio in the playoffs, and you have a defense that’s not scared. If the Colts can control the Bengals’ run game in any capacity and force the Bengals into third down situations, they should be able to keep the Bengals’ scoring chances low.
Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys (-6.5, 48)
KEY REASON DETROIT COVERS
Sean Yuille is the managing editor for Pride of Detroit. You can follow them on Facebook and on Twitter @PrideOfDetroit.
When you think about this Cowboys team, one of the first things that comes to mind is their stellar running game. Between their offensive line and DeMarco Murray, the Cowboys have one of the NFL’s best rushing attacks, and that’s been a big reason behind their success this season. This Sunday, however, they will be going up against the NFL’s top run defense. The Lions have done an excellent job all season of containing opposing running backs, and if they can make the Cowboys somewhat one-dimensional and shift the pressure to Tony Romo, they will have an excellent chance of emerging victorious and advancing to the next round of the playoffs.
KEY REASON DALLAS COVERS
K.D. Drummond is a senior columnist for CowboysHQ. He can be followed on Twitter @KDP10For10.
Romo is having a magical season, and if his stats were attributed to any quarterback with a Super Bowl ring, he’d be the runaway winner for league MVP. Don’t believe me? First in completion percentage (69.9%), first in yards per attempt (8.5). First in passer rating (113.2), first in QBR (82.75). Highest touchdown percentage (7.8%) Amongst MVP candidates, most game-winning drives (4), most fourth-quarter comebacks (4). Romo has an 8-0 road record, he also has the highest passer rating in the fourth quarter. Most importantly, in games where Romo is “healthy” (because he hasn’t really been healthy all year), the Cowboys are 12-0. Undefeated. They lost to San Francisco when he was clearly not ready to play in the season opener; they lost the Washington game when he broke his back, lost the game against Arizona he didn’t play and lost on Thanksgiving where for the only time on the season he wasn’t able to take his pain-killing injections. They are only safe to take once a week, and three days after taking the shot against the Giants was too soon; so he folded at the nearest sign of pressure. No wonder Jerry Jones petitioned the league to give Dallas the late Sunday game instead of the Saturday contest. 9 times out of 10, bet on the superior quarterback, and that’s Tony Romo over Matt Stafford all day long.
Join the debate. Who covers in Sunday’s Wild Card Games?