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NFL picks against the spread, Saturday playoff games: Making a case for the Bengals, Vikings

We make our picks against the spread for the Saturday playoff games.

Bob Levey

The playoffs are here, which basically means that everyone that lost all of their money in the regular season is going to be trying to gain it all back in these last few games. The thing is, playoff football is always high drama and these teams are the best of the best for a reason. There really are no 'gimmes' when trying to pick a winner in these games.

Still, I am going to try my best at doing just that. Courtesy of Bovada, here are my picks against the spread for the Saturday playoff games.

Cincinnati Bengals +4 1/2 vs. Houston Texans

Going back to the regular season, the Texans have now lost 3 of their last 4 games and seem to be struggling defensively, which has been their strong spot all year. Allowing 42 points to even a high-powered offense such as the Patriots is unacceptable if your team has aspirations of winning a Super Bowl.

The Bengals, on the other hand, are on a three game winning streak. Andy Dalton has really come into his own, especially down the latter portions of this season. And it has yet to be seen if the Texans are able to defend A.J. Green, who is one of the best receivers in the league.

With a 4.5 point margin, I am taking the Bengals. Yes, they are on the road, but I think with the way Houston is struggling, this game could easily come down to a field goal at the end to determine the winner.

Minnesota Vikings +9 vs. Green Bay Packers

With the way Adrian Peterson is running right now, it is almost foolish to pick against him. Then again, former MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers is handling the Green Bay offense on the other side. With all of his receivers including Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones back and healthy, the Vikings secondary will be hard pressed to stop him.

The Packers are 13-4 all-time in playoff games played at Lambeau Field. In other words, home field advantage exists. And the weather is expected to be cold, although if it snows, it is only going to be light. Still, the Vikings are accustomed to playing in a dome. That could play against them.

The thing is, I do not think the Packers can stop Adrian Peterson. These teams are divisional opponents and, whether it is a regular season game or a playoff game, you know it is going to be closely contested. While I think the Packers win this game, I also believe it will not be by a great margin. If Christian Ponder can play the way he has the past couple of weeks, translating his game into the playoffs, the Vikings could even pull out a surprise victory.

Happy hunting!

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