Colts (+5½) over CHIEFS/OVER (57): Andrew Luck and the Colts have taken their time getting things squared away since the quarterback began going physically wrong with a sprained shoulder early in the 2015 campaign, leading to circumstances that kept Luck sidelined throughout last season. But the best of Luck has been worth waiting for. Now, having resisted putting the pedal to the metal this season until Luck’s throwing shoulder was at optimum strength, the Colts are sharper than jailhouse coffee, having won 10 of their past 11, including their defensively stifling wild-card win at Houston.
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is a force of nature, but the Kansas City defense is something else, and not in a good way. Since losing that 54-51 epic to the Rams, favorite lays have proven too much for the defensively deficient Chiefs to overcome against capable foes. Coach Andy Reid has gone 11-13 straight up lifetime in the postseason, but he’s 1-4 as the Chiefs’ boss. Reid attained an early lead in four of those Chiefs games, but halftime strategizing resulted in losses to the Colts, Patriots, Steelers and Titans. The defensively oriented Marty Schottenheimer went 3-7 in ’90s postseasons before departing, but the only other Chiefs coach to win any postseason game was Hank Stram, who matriculated down the field to win Super Bowl IV over the Vikings.
In a projected track meet, laying the chalk price versus this foe seems unwise.
Cowboys (+7) over RAMS/OVER (49¹/₂): The Rams jelled last year, taking their great leap forward to go 11-5 in the regular season before falling to the invading Falcons in their first playoff joust in five years. Attribute that to growing pains. Their physical talent is considerable — and sufficiently deep to permit holding stud running back Todd Gurley out, so that would be fitter for this. Perhaps the Cowboys are marginally better defensively — though they have no one to consistently stifle stopper Aaron Donald. Dallas took a vital forward step when they acquired wide receiver Amari Cooper to lend vital balance to the offense. Cooper’s presence opens up their game, a style direction which should frustrate “under” backers at the end.
The Rams’ specials are markedly superior — and we’d rather have Sean McVay than Jason Garrett walking the sideline. But are the Rams worth backing at this rich price? The Cowboys could hang tough if Dak Prescott avoids turnovers. This figures close, at the number. However, the Rams can’t arrive cocky and overconfident, given their issues against legitimate teams who can play keep-away — which the Cowboys can accomplish, on their better days. Whether Dallas’ overall savvy is sufficient to stay in this throughout is the $64,000 question. Maximizing possessions and controlling the clock are vital. Jared Goff misses Cooper Kupp terribly.
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