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NFL wild-card picks: Kaepernick will blast through Green Bay again

By Josh Katzowitz | NFL Writer

Can B.J. Raji and the Packers stop Colin Kaepernick?(USATSI)
Can B.J. Raji and the Packers stop Colin Kaepernick? (USATSI)

Each week, we'll take the best -- and most clever -- odds collected by Bovada for the upcoming week and give our take. This is important stuff, perhaps the most important post you'll read all week. Because if you can't lose money while watching a game in which you have absolutely no effect, what's the point of watching sports at all?

Note: Home team is listed first in Against the Spread.

Game One: Colts -2.5 vs. Chiefs
Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET, NBC

2013 Against The Spread
Overall: 9-6-1Overall: 9-7
Home: 5-3Home: 2-6
Away: 4-3-1Away: 7-1
2013 Team Rankings
Pass offense: 17thPass defense: 25th
Rush offense: 20thRush defense: 21st
Pass defense: 13thPass offense: 24th
Rush defense: 25thRush offense: 10th

Verdict: Despite their 11-5 record, the Colts have managed to play rather unimpressively for most of the season, falling behind in the first half by big margins before needing equally big comebacks or falling short of victory. Indianpolis has played better in the past three weeks, and I think the Colts will manage a repeat of Week 16 when they beat the Chiefs 23-7 in Kansas City. The Chiefs have been a great story this season, but they're 1-5 against teams that made the 2013 playoffs. Go with the Colts.

Game Two: Eagles -2.5 vs. Saints
Saturday, 8:10 p.m. ET, NBC

2013 Against The Spread
Overall: 8-8Overall: 8-7-1
Home: 3-5Home: 7-0-1
Away: 5-3Away: 1-7
2013 Team Rankings
Pass offense: 9thPass defense: 2nd
Rush offense: 1stRush defense: 18th
Pass defense: 31stPass offense: 2nd
Rush defense: 9thRush offense: 24th

Verdict: Is this game as simple as the statement: "Well, the Saints really struggle on the road, so you have to like the Eagles in this one"? Not really, though New Orleans is 3-5 away from home this season. No, the bigger reason I like Philadelphia in this one is because the Eagles' defense has improved. Aside from a 48-point bloodletting against Minnesota in Week 15, Philadelphia's defense hasn't allowed more than 21 points since Week 4. Will Philadelphia shut down Drew Brees? Probably not. Will the Eagles' defense give the Eagles' offense enough chances to outscore New Orleans? Yes.

Game Three: Bengals -7.5 vs. Chargers
Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET, CBS

2013 Against The Spread
Overall: 10-5-1Overall: 9-6-1
Home: 8-0Home: 5-3
Away: 2-5-1Away: 4-3-1
2013 Team Rankings
Pass offense: 8thPass defense: 28th
Rush offense: 18thRush defense: 11th
Pass defense: 5thPass offense: 4th
Rush defense: 5thRush offense: 13th

Verdict: Since losing to the Bengals in Week 13, the Chargers have been on a hot streak, winning four straight and beating the Broncos and Chiefs. When you're peaking just in time for the playoffs, that's a very good thing. As for the Bengals, we still haven't seen much of Good Andy Dalton when Cincinnati is playing in a big-time game, and the team hasn't won a playoff game since 1990. So, you can understand why I'll go with the Chargers to cover the spread. Ultimately, I think the Bengals will win but not by much.

Game Four: Packers +3.5 vs. 49ers
Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET, FOX

2013 Against The Spread

Overall: 6-10Overall: 10-5-1
Home: 3-5Home: 4-4
Away: 3-5Away: 6-1-1
2013 Team Rankings
Pass offense: 6thPass defense: 7th
Rush offense: 7thRush defense: 4th
Pass defense: 24thPass offense: 29th
Rush defense: 24thRush offense: 3rd

Verdict: All week, I've been leaning toward picking the Packers in this game -- mainly because the weather is going to be frostbite cold and because Aaron Rodgers is back -- but the more I think about it, I'm not sure how Green Bay will stop 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick. The Packers didn't last year in the playoffs (Kaepernick threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 181 yards and two more scores), and they didn't in Week 1 of this season (Kaepernick threw for 412 yards and three touchdowns). Maybe Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers has figured out Kaepernick since then. But I doubt it, and that's why I'm going with the 49ers.

Last week: 1-2 against the spread; 1-3 on prop bets. Overall this year: 25-26 against the spread, 16-18 on prop bets (Two unresolved future prop bets: Dolphins to win the No. 6 postseason seed; Eli Manning to go over 28 interceptions on the season). Last two years: 51-61 against the spread; 50-35-1 on prop bets.

See my picks and all the CBSSports.com experts here.

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