All four teams in action this Saturday have their flaws. That’s often the case during the first round of the NFL playoffs; after all, the very best teams get to skip Wild Card Weekend. But it’s especially true this year. Late-season injuries have taken their toll on Saturday’s participants, sending three of them directly to the bottom of the Super Bowl 51 odds list. Only the Seattle Seahawks (+1200) are being given a decent shot of winning the title.
 

Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans (4:35 PM ET, ABC)
On the Super Bowl futures market, the Raiders (12-4 SU, 10-6 ATS) have gone from +6600 to +7500, and back to +6600, where they sit at press time. They’ve also slipped from +3 to +4 on the NFL odds board. Oakland showed a lot of promise before Pro-Bowl quarterback Derek Carr broke his leg in Week 16; his back-up, Matt McGloin, hurt his shoulder in the season finale, leaving rookie third-stringer Connor Cook (21 lifetime pass attempts) as Saturday’s expected starter.

The Texans (9-7 SU, 6-9-1 ATS) managed to win the soft AFC South despite the absence of injured defensive end JJ Watt – and despite the presence of quarterback Brock Osweiler. He was arguably this year’s worst regular starting quarterback, bad enough to lose his job to Tom Savage in Week 15. Savage ended up with a concussion in Week 17, so it looks like Osweiler will be back under center for Houston. They remain distant Super Bowl long shots at +6600.
 

Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks (8:15 PM ET, NBC)
The Lions (9-7 SU, 8-8 ATS) took a tumble on the Super Bowl futures market, falling from +6600 to +7500. They backed into the playoffs with three straight losses – all of them after quarterback Matthew Stafford dislocated the middle finger on his throwing hand in Week 14. He’s been forced to wear a protective glove for the rest of the season. On top of that, Detroit’s offense has missed center Travis Swanson (concussion) and running back Theo Riddick (wrist) the past four games, although Swanson could return on Saturday.

Injuries have also plagued the Seahawks (10-5-1 SU, 8-8 ATS) this year, but at least they have a healthy starting quarterback in Russell Wilson. That, plus winning the NFC West and earning home-field advantage for this game, is good enough to make Seattle an 8-point favorite for Saturday, up from –7.5 when betting first opened. Just don’t expect too much from the Legion of Boom defense now that safety Earl Thomas is out for the year with a broken leg. 

 

*Odds as of January 5, 2017