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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 2:00 PM


Let’s keep revvin’ it up with more NFL Wild Card Round games as we tackle the Sunday tilts from Cincinnati and Green Bay …


SAN DIEGO (9-7) at CINCINNATI (11-5) – 1 p.m. ET, NBC

You might have to tune to the History Channel to find the last video proof that the Cincinnati Bengals actually won a playoff game – it was, after all, 23 years ago and so the Queen City natives have grown restless and you do wonder if that means the pressure’s been building all week/season long for Marvin Lewis’ club to finally produce.

If Cincinnati – a solid 6 ½-point betting favorite – is gonna survive-and-advance to an AFC Divisional Playoff game next weekend in Foxboro – than any genius would tell you QB Andy Dalton better take care of the football after last week airing four INTs in a 34-17 win/cover against Baltimore.

Dalton’s stats the past two playoff games – both in Houston – are not good as he’s thrown four INTs and been sacked six times without tossing a single TD but here he’ll look to chew up a San Diego pass defense that ranks a lowly 28th in the league (allowing 258.7 ypg) and expect both WR A.J. Green and do-everything RB Gio Bernard to get targeted plenty – can they both make significant YAC plays here?

On the flip sides, San Diego QB Philip Rivers (4,478 yards passing with 32 TDs and 11 INTs) is back in the playoff picture after a three-year franchise drought and his downfield threat WR Keenan Allen comes into this game having collected 16 receptions of 20-plus yards this year while scoring eight TDs.
If the Chargers take an early lead here, the Bengals could push the panic button – but if the 2013 history of this Cincinnati team remains “true” than the Bengals will win/cover at “The Jungle” one mo’ time (see Spread Notes below).

Spread Notes – Cincinnati is 10-5-1 ATS (against the spread) this season and as everyone by now knows the Bengals are a perfect 8-and-oh spreadwise at home. But did you know Cincy’s covered its last four in a row against San Diego while dating back to 2009? On the flip side, San Diego is a healthy 9-6-1 against the odds this season and the Bolts are 11-7-1 ATS away since late in the 2010 campaign.

SAN FRANCISCO (12-4) at GREEN BAY (8-7-1) – 4:30 p.m. ET, Fox

Did someone say anything about the weather outside being frightful? The reports ‘round Green Bay is that we could see temps fall to 28 degrees below zero with the wind chill and so both the 49ers and the home underdog Packers better bring their ground games here and do keep in mind San Fran ranked third in the NFL with 137.6 yards per game via the ground route while Green Bay ranked a better-than-you-thought seventh while averaging 133.5 ypg.

Still, the game plan for the Packers is to do everything in their power to keep their own leaky defense off the field and so QB Aaron Rodgers – fresh of last week’s 318-yard passing performance that featured the game-winning 48-yard TD strike to a wide-open WR Randall Cobb with 38 seconds left in the 33-28 win in Chicago – must steer clear of picks against an opportunistic Niners defense that ranks third league-wide in scoring (17 ppg).

Gut feeling is that even without star LB Clay Matthews (broken right thumb) the Pack will load the box and stuff RB Frank Gore and QB Colin Kaepernick more than a few times but it’s those occasional chunk play runs by Kaepernick that the Packers cannot afford to happen (see last year’s playoff win by SF when he rushed for a QB-record 181 rushing yards).

Spread Notes – San Francisco is 10-5-1 ATS overall this season and the Niners now are a collective 32-18-3 vig-wise in the Jim Harbaugh Era for a .640 winning rate. Note that Green Bay is 6-9-1 versus the vig this season and the Packers enter this post-season tilt at 7-13-1 ATS in their last 20 games against non-divisional foes.

Get the BCS Championship Game Side & Totals Winners when you check with us on Monday after 1 p.m. ET as we put a wrap on this College Football season with #1 Florida State vs. #2 Auburn playing for all the marbles with kickoff set for 8:30 p.m. ET on Monday Night. And get Side/Totals winners on today’s NFL Wild Card Round games too when you check with us at Jim Hurley’s Network either right here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 – and get all the Hoop Winners every day too!

Here’s a look at the Sunday, Jan. 5 Bowl action:

GO DADDY BOWL – at Mobile, AL
ARKANSAS STATE (7-5) vs. BALL STATE (10-2) -- 9 p.m. ET, ESPN

Go ahead and tell us if you’ve heard this script before: Ball State is still looking for its first bowl win (the Cardinals are 0-7-1 straight-up lifetime in bowl games) while Arkansas State has another head coach for this bowl tilt … yes, defensive coordinator John Thompson guided the Red Wolves to a 17-13 win against 3-point pup Kent State in last year’s Go Daddy Bowl as he temporarily replaced Gus Malzahn and now Thompson’s keepin’ the seat warm for Blake Anderson who believe it or not will be ASU’s fifth different head coach in as many years.

Is your head spinning yet?

In this prime-time tilt, Ball State QB Keith Wenning (3,933 yards passing with 34 TDs and just 6 INTs this year) will look to attack an Arkansas State defense that surrendered 30-plus points in six different games this year while the TD underdogs from the Sun Belt Conference are banking on soph RB Michael Gordon (717 yards rushing with a 6.8 ypc average and 10 TDs) to dent a B-State bunch that failed to cover games against fellow bowl crews North Texas and Northern Illinois.

Will David Letterman’s alma mater finally break through at bowl time? Stay tuned.

Spread Notes – Ball State is 8-4 ATS overall this year and the Cardinals are 13-5 vig-wise as betting favorites since midway of the 2011 campaign. Meanwhile, Arkansas State’s 7-5 spreadwise overall this year and note the Red Wolves are a nifty 19-8 ATS away the past four years.

NOTE: Get our BCS Championship Game Preview plus NFL Wild Card Round re-caps in the next Jim Sez!

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