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2011 AFC Wild Card Round: Baltimore vs. K.C. Preview & Free Pick

Baltimore Ravens vs Kansas City Chiefs Free Wildcard Weekend NFL Football Pick

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Wild Card Playoff Round: Ravens at Chiefs Matchup Handicapping Analysis

It’s time for a little postseason action to 2010-11 NFL Football season and veteran sportswriter Matt Martz will preview and provide some insight to help make your NFL playoff football wagers winners. Check back every week for your complete source for NFL football gambling right here on CappersPicks.com.

Date/Time: Sunday, January 9, 1:00 PM ET
Venue: Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO.
Broadcast: CBS
Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs Betting Lines from betED
Money Line: Baltimore (-160) Kansas City (+140)
Spread: Baltimore -3
Over/Under: 41
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Day two of the first round of the 2011 NFL Playoffs kicks off at Arrowhead Stadium as the Kansas City Chiefs host the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC Wildcard battle.

The Chiefs entered the season with modest expectations after last year’s 4-12 finish but concluded the 2010 regular season campaign with a 10-6 record while capturing the AFC West title and home field advantage in the first round.

Quarterback Matt Cassel, although not stellar, led his team under the direction of offensive coordinator Charlie Weiss while completing nearly 60 percent of his passes for 3,116 yards with 27 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. It was a major improvement from a disappointing finish just one year ago.

Cassel’s turnaround can be partially credited to the help of Kansas City’s explosive running game that ranked No. 1 for nearly the entire season.

Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones were the Chiefs’ strength rolling up 2,363 combined yards and 11 touchdowns. Charles also contributed, hauling in 45 passes for 468 yards and three touchdowns.

However, the big story for the receiving corps. was Dwayne Bowe, who emerged as Cassel’s go to with 72 catches for 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns, while Tony Meoki nabbed 47 catches and three touchdowns.

All of that offense netted the Chiefs an average of 22.9 points per game on 349.7 yards.

That shouldn’t be a problem for the Ravens, who are back in the playoffs once again behind the solid efforts of its aging defense.

Perennial power-hitter Ray Lewis had a monster year with 139 tackles and two sacks to pace a defense that allowed just 16.9 points and 318.9 yards per game. Dawan Landry had 111 tackles while veteran Terrell Suggs had 11 sacks this season to round out the trio of terror.

Uncharacteristic of previous years, the Baltimore defense were able to catch their wind with a little more help from an improving offense.

Quarterback Joe Flacco completed 62.6 percent of his passes for 3,622 yards with 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the season, and probably could have performed even better had he not had to worry about an O-line that offered him up 10 times.

The running game also showed improvement, as Ray Rice surfaced as one of the league’s top running backs, gaining 1,220 yards to go with five touchdowns while catching 63 passes for another 556 yards. Arizona transplant Anquan Boldin adjusted well to the climate change, snatching 64 passes for 837 yards and seven touchdowns while Derrick Mason finished the regular season with 61 catches and seven touchdowns.

The good news for the Ravens is that Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap is healthy as well as deep ball threat T.J. Houshmanzadeh.

That could wreck havoc on a Chiefs defense that has been allowing 20.4 points and ranks 17th against the pass, while the Ravens have been scoring at a clip of 22.3 points and 322.9 yards.

Trying to stop them will be Derrick Johnson who had a breakout season with 121 tackles as well as rookie Eric Berry with 92. Tamba Hali also played a major role in the regular season racking up 14 ½ sacks. The Chiefs defense has 14 interceptions led by Berry’s four.

If the ageing Ravens legs can keep pace with the relentless pounding and chasing of the KC rushing attack, they may give Flacco some time to orchestrate some productive drives. However, the deafening minions of Arrowhead will play an important factor here, as I expect Cassel to come up big in this one as the Chiefs edge out the Ravens to keep their postseason dreams alive.

Matt’s Free Prediction: Kansas City 27, Baltimore 24


Matt Martz is a sports writer for the Bakersfield Californian, the Oregonian, and Utah Spectrum. Blessed is the gambler who expects nothing, for ye shall not be disappointed.

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