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Years since a Phillies catcher batted leadoff before Andrew Knapp did so Sunday

Putting it on the Line

Posted by Eric Fisher On January 4

I admit to being a bit surprised by how high the lines are for the wild card weekend. If there are going to be blowouts, I agree the teams piling up the points will be the home teams: the Chiefs, Rams, Jaguars and Saints. But I’m not so certain that’s going to happen.

The Chiefs have more firepower than the Titans, but eight of the Titans’ last 10 games have been decided by five or fewer points. The Chiefs have three double-digit wins in the last four weeks of the season, but those were all against teams that failed to make the playoffs. With some reservations, I’m taking the Titans (+8½ ), but I think the Chiefs will win the game.

I feel more confident about picking the Falcons (+6½) over the Rams. Although the Rams are more capable of producing the blowout, the Falcons have a good defense. Furthermore, the Falcons went 6-2 during the second half of the season, with the only losses coming against the Vikings and Saints. I’m picking the Falcons to cover – and possibly win the game.

The Panthers (+7) are also capable of beating the Saints. I’m not picking against the Saints to win at home – they’ve won their last seven home games – but beating the same team three times in one season is difficult, and seven points is a big number against a team with a defense as good as the Panthers’ defense. I’m making the Panthers my “best bet.”

The Jaguars, the worst of the four home teams this weekend, have the best chance to cover. That’s because of the questions regarding Bills running back LeSean McCoy’s ankle. Even if McCoy plays on Sunday, he won’t be nearly as effective as usual. The Bills haven’t scored more than 16 points in their last four games against teams that qualified for the playoffs. If it weren’t for Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles’ propensity for throwing interceptions, the Jaguars would be my best bet.

Because there are only four games, I’m only making one “other top pick” instead of three.

 (Home team in CAPS)                                          

(Winning team against the line in bold)

Titans +8½ at CHIEFS

Falcons +6½ at RAMS

JAGUARS -9 vs. Bills

Panthers +7 at SAINTS

Best bet: Panthers +7 at SAINTS

Other top pick: Falcons +6½ at RAMS

Last week: 7-9 (129-113-11 overall)

Best bet: 0-1 (7-10 overall)

Other top picks: 1-3 (31-34-4 overall)

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