SAINTS AT SEAHAWKS
When: 4:35 p.m. EST
Line: Seahawks by 8.
Weather: A 70 percent chance of rain, windy (gusts over 40 mph), temperature in the mid-40s.
Synopsis: The Saints love to throw the ball (399.4 yards a game, No. 4 in the NFL during the regular season), which would seem a rough route to go here considering the weather forecast combined with the fact Seattle has the No. 1 pass defense in the league. That unit held Saints QB Drew Brees to 147 passing yards -- his lowest total since 2006 -- as the Seahawks beat the visiting Saints 34-7 in early December. However, the Saints uncharacteristically rolled on the ground last week (185 yards) in their upset win in Philadelphia despite having key RB Pierre Thomas out because of a chest injury. He might be back. But look for Seattle to be prepared for that strategy if New Orleans utilizes it again. Meanwhile, the Saints' defense under coordinator Rob Ryan is in the top four in the league in three of the major statistical categories, but its lone weakness is against the run (it's No. 19). And Seattle's offensive strength is its fourth-rated ground attack, led by Marshawn Lynch. That's a bad matchup problem for the Saints.
Bottom line, pick: It's a lot to ask of a team that never had won a road playoff game in its history (0-5) before last weekend to win two in a row. And Seattle has lost at home only once in the last two seasons, and gets back key WR and kick returner Percy Harvin from a hip problem that sidelined him for all but one regular-season game.
SEAHAWKS 24, SAINTS 16.
COLTS AT PATRIOTS
When: 8:15 p.m.
Line: Patriots by 7
Weather: A 90 percent chance of rain, windy (gusts of 30 mph), temperature in the low 50s.
Synopsis: Indy comes off its scintillating comeback from a 28-point second half deficit to beat Kansas City 45-44 last weekend, as QB Andrew Luck picked apart the defense. He works now vs. a team that is banged up at linebacker -- the club's second-leading tackler, Brandon Spikes, is out for playoffs because of a knee injury as he becomes the fouth key member of the "D" to be done. But passing could be tough here given the weather forecast, and the Colts are in trouble if they're forced to the ground game, as they ranked just 21st in the regular season. Conversely, New England has become a run-oriented team despite the presence of QB Tom Brady -- its ground game ranks No. 9, the pass attack No. 10. So look for the Pats, who have been getting a lot out of running back LeGarrette Blount recently, to test Indy's 26th-ranked run defense as they try to minimize the impact of Colts DE Robert Mathis, whose 191/2 sacks led the league this season.
Bottom line, pick: Indy can't afford another lackluster start, not on the road in weather that could make it very tough to come back. Look for the Pats to try to put the hammer down early, then control the clock.
PATRIOTS 23, COLTS 17
CAESAR'S RECORD, TOP SELECTIONS
STRAIGHT UP: Last week: 1-3. Overall postseason record: 1-3. STRAIGHT UP PICK OF THE WEEK: SEAHAWKS. Last week: Wrong (Eagles). Postseason: 0-1.
Vs. POINT SPREAD: Last week: 1-1-2. Overall postseason record: 1-1-2. PICK OF WEEK VS. SPREAD: COLTS (+7). Last week: Wrong (Eagles -21/2). Postseason: 0-1.
Odds to win 2014 super bowl
TEAM #OPEN #CURRENT
Seahawks#8/1 # 5/2
Broncos # 6/1 # 3/1
49ers # 7/1 # 5/1
Patriots # 10/1 # 6/1
Panthers # 60/1 # 10/1
Saints # 15/1 # 15/1
Colts # 40/1 # 20/1
Chargers # 50/1 # 20/1
Super Bowl point spread
NFC team by 21/2
SOURCE: America's Line
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