The best two days of NFL football capped by the game of the year in college makes for a truly unmatched three days of action. This is your Weekend Primer.
FIVE HOT TOPICS
1. Spotlight on Vikes receivers: Stefon Diggs missed practice throughout the early part of the week with an illness, while Adam Thielen suffered a cut on his ankle Wednesday that required stitches. Minnesota will need both performing at a high level to spring a second consecutive upset.
2. Ingram in doubt: The Ravens could be without star running back Mark Ingram on Saturday vs. the Titans. Ingram returned to practice Thursday for the first time since suffering a calf injury on Dec. 22, and even if he does play, he figures to be limited.
3. Russell rusty on road: Russell Wilson and the Seahawks have been road warriors this year, going 8-1 away from CenturyLink Field. But Wilson has won just one of his last four road playoff games. Aaron Rodgers, by contrast, has won three of his last four playoff games at Lambeau Field.
4. Divisional overs in play: Overs have hit at a robust 66.7 percent (24-12) in the divisional round of the playoffs since 2011. Eight of the last 12 games have featured at least 49 points.
5. Clemson covers in bowls: Clemson has covered 10 of its last 11 bowl games, winning nine of them straight up. The Tigers enter Monday’s CFP National Championship as 5.5-point underdogs to LSU.
Professional opinions have been split on the CFB Championship, with some sharp money hitting the opener of LSU -4.5, but other sharp accounts have come in on Clemson +5.5. Professional money has landed on both the side and total in Sunday’s Texans-Chiefs game, with KC money fueling a move off the opener of Chiefs -7.5 (line currently 9.5) and substantial action on the over resulting in an adjustment up to 51 from 49. Green Bay has also seen a bit of sharp interest at -4, with the number bouncing between 4 and 4.5.
Vikings (+245) at 49ers: The Niners have covered just six of their last 26 as a favorite, while the Vikings are fresh off a win over the Saints as 8-point dogs and are essentially playing with house money. The pressure is also on Jimmy Garoppolo in his first playoff start, as quarterbacks in this spot have gone just 15-32 straight up since 2002 (including 1-2 last week).
Clemson (+185) vs. LSU: Clemson, which is chasing its third national title in five years, has a distinct coaching edge, with Dabo Swinney boasting substantially more big-game experience than LSU’s Ed Orgeron. Clemson’s overall edge in experience makes that price pretty value-laden.
Sunday — Seahawks (+4.5) at Packers: The most compelling matchup of Divisional Weekend, the Packers have somehow flown under the radar all season despite a 13-3 record, while the Seahawks are always a threat with Wilson. Seattle has embraced its road warrior status and Green Bay has as much upside as any team remaining. The winner of this game will have a great chance to get to Miami.
Monday — Clemson (+5.5) vs. LSU: The game the college football world has been waiting for is shaping up as a truly fascinating battle between one batch of Tigers looking to establish themselves as a legitimate dynasty and another striving to stamp their presence as an all-time great team. Fans couldn’t have asked for a better title matchup.