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The journey towards Super Bowl 51 begins this weekend with the Wild Card round. Two of the four matchups will take place on Saturday, including the Seattle Seahawks-Detroit Lions game. The Seahawks had long been one of the Super Bowl favourites, but a shaky December has many bettors second-guessing Russell Wilson and company. A good showing against the Detroit Lions would set them off on the right track.


Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks
Saturday, 8:15 PM ET
Favourite: Seahawks -8
Total: 43

At one point this season, the Seahawks were 7-2-1, fresh off impressive wins over the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. But things went a bit sour down the stretch, and they finished 3-3. Their success is built around their defense and specifically, their Legion of Boom secondary. However, that secondary has struggled recently, leaving the Seahawks vulnerable.

The struggles started when the Seahawks lost All Pro safety Earl Thomas to a season-ending leg injury in December. Since then, their secondary has allowed opposing quarterbacks to compile a lofty QB rating of 99.5. Only two teams posted numbers worse than that throughout the course of the entire season. With Thomas in the lineup, that number was just 77.8 – the third-best in the NFL.

Another reason why the Seahawks could be vulnerable is because they haven’t run the ball particularly well this year. They’ve failed to rush for 100 yards 10 times this season; they only had nine such games between 2012-2015.

The good news for Seattle is that they’re hosting a Lions team that was just 3-5 on the road this year. The Seahawks went 7-1 for home games. That home-field advantage could be the difference.


Oakland Raiders @ Houston Texans
Saturday, 4:35 PM ET
Favourite: Texans -4
Total: 37

The Raiders and Texans both enter the playoffs with very shaky quarterback situations. The Texans benched quarterback Brock Osweiler late in the season in favour of Tom Savage, but the latter is recovering from a concussion and probably won’t be ready for Saturday. Osweiler was repeatedly booed as the starter while compiling a 72.2 quarterback rating – the second-worst of any regular starter.

Meanwhile, the Raiders look to be on track to start their third-string quarterback, rookie Connor Cook, after starter Derek Carr and backup Matt McGloin were injured in back-to-back weeks.

The difference here is that the Texans have dealt with sloppy quarterback play all season long and got to this point on the strength of their top-rated defense. The Raiders’ situation is more troublesome, as their offense – specifically, the passing game – was the team’s main strength. Only seven other teams had more passing touchdowns than Oakland.

The Texans won the AFC South with a 9-7 record. As division winner, they get to host the Wild Card game. The Raiders, who finished with a 12-4 record, finished second in the more challenging AFC West. 


*Odds as of January 5, 2017