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NFL wild-card weekend picks against the spread

SATURDAY

Cincinnati Bengals (9-7) at Houston Texans (10-6)

CINCINNATI plus 3

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Houston stumbles into the playoffs on a three-game losing skid, while Cincinnati backs in as a wild card after a Week 17 loss. But with WR Andre Johnson finally healthy and stretching the field, the powerful Texans' ground game will have even more room to carry the franchise to its first postseason win.

The pick TEXANS

Detroit Lions (10-6) at New Orleans Saints (13-3)

DETROIT plus 11

With odds makers setting the over/under at 59 points, a shootout is expected. The Saints gave up 300 yards more than the Lions against the pass, while holding opponents to 300 yards less than the Lions on the ground. Detroit has the weapons to keep it close enough.

The pick LIONS

SUNDAY

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Atlanta Falcons (10-6) at New York Giants (9-7)

ATLANTA plus 3

From two indoor games Saturday, to two outdoor games Sunday. … The potent Atlanta offence won't be slowed by the weather (high of 7C, mostly sunny), so all the defence has to do is keep QB Eli Manning (4,933 yards passing, fourth in NFL) in check. …

The pick FALCONS

Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) at Denver Broncos (8-8)

PITTSBURGH minus 9

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The shine is off QB Tim Tebow after three consecutive Denver losses and now the top-ranked, cold-weather Pittsburgh defence comes to town. Steelers RB Isaac Redman filled in nicely for Rashard Mendenhall (knee) last week, and will do so again here.

The pick STEELERS

Last week 6-8-2

Regular season 123-119-14

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