The Baltimore Ravens emerged from the weekend as the lone wild-card entrant to advance in the 2014-15 NFL playoffs, and they will try to upset the top-seeded New England Patriots when the two teams meet in Foxboro to kick off the divisional round on Saturday.
The Ravens opened as seven-point road underdogs at sports books monitored by OddsShark.com and have been able to defeat the Patriots as underdogs in two of their last three playoff meetings on the road, going 3-0 against the spread in those games. Baltimore has won its last six playoff games overall dating back to the team’s Super Bowl run two years ago with a 5-1 mark ATS during that stretch. However, the Ravens were AFC North champions in 2012 and would have to beat three more division winners this year to win the Super Bowl for the third time in franchise history.
Baltimore is coming off a 30-17 victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers last Saturday as a three-point road underdog. The Steelers won the AFC North this season but had to play without injured running back Le’Veon Bell, who suffered a knee injury in their 27-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals for the division title in Week 17. The Ravens took advantage of Bell’s absence in holding Pittsburgh to just 68 rushing yards.
The Patriots have won 16 of their last 17 home games, with the one loss occurring in Week 17 against the Buffalo Bills as 4.5-point favorites, a game in which the Patriots had nothing to play for. New England won the most recent meeting with Baltimore 41-7 in Week 16 of the 2013 season as a one-point home favorite.
The defending Super Bowl champion -- and current Super Bowl favorite -- Seattle Seahawks will host the NFC South champion Carolina Panthers on Saturday night, with the opening NFL odds showing them as 11-point home favorites.
The Seahawks won the NFC West for the second year in a row, while the Panthers became the first NFC South team to win the division in consecutive seasons. Carolina advanced to the divisional round with a 27-16 victory against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday as a 5.5-point home favorite, the team’s fifth win in a row. The Seahawks bring a six-game winning streak into this matchup and have also gone 6-0 against the spread since their last loss. The Panthers lost to Seattle 13-9 in Week 8 of this season but covered the spread as six-point home underdogs.
Sunday’s divisional playoff matchups are two intriguing games featuring two quarterbacks trying to earn their first postseason road win. In the NFC, Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys opened as 6.5-point road underdogs against the Green Bay Packers after knocking out the Detroit Lions 24-20 last Sunday but failing to cover as six-point home favorites. The Cowboys have won nine straight road games, going 7-2 against the spread, while the NFC North champion Packers have won eight in a row at home with a 6-1-1 record against the spread.
In the AFC, Andrew Luck and Indianapolis visit former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos as seven-point underdogs. The Colts are 7-0 ATS in their previous seven meetings with the Broncos, according to the OddsShark NFL Database, including a 31-24 loss in the season opener as 8.5-point road underdogs, and they pounded the Cincinnati Bengals 26-10 last Sunday as four-point home favorites.