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Playoff picks: Packers a good bet this time

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Playoff picks: Packers a good bet this time

Six days after Adrian Peterson blistered them for nearly 200 yards and helped lift his team to a stunning playoff berth, the Green Bay Packers get another taste of ``A.D.''

This time, they will deal with ``All Day'' Peterson at Lambeau Field. And in the playoffs.

The stakes are similar to last week for the Vikings, who would have been out of the playoffs had they lost to Green Bay, which already owned the division title. The venue, obviously, is different.

If that seems like a big edge for the Packers, well, they lost their last two postseason home games, both to the Giants, who went on to win the Super Bowl each time. They dropped a 31-14 verdict to Minnesota after the 2004 season, the only time in 104 matchups these NFC North rivals have met in the playoffs.

So Green Bay is 1-3 in recent home playoff games on the tundra. That doesn't diminish the challenge facing Minnesota, an 8-point underdog.

``It put us in a spot that we've been wanting to be, wanted to get here since April 23 of last year when we started OTAs,'' Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder said of the win over the Packers that got them a trip to Green Bay, where they lost 23-14 in the regular season.

``It's going to be tough going to Lambeau. Obviously it's an environment that's tough to play in, but we're hoping that a lot of our Vikings fans travel, just like there were some Green Bay fans at home this past week.''

The shorter week won't matter to either side considering they faced off last weekend. At least it gives the Packers less time to watch video of the horror show their defense put on trying to slow down Peterson.

They'll do a better job this Saturday night.

BEST BET: PACKERS, 31-20

Indianapolis (plus 6 1/2 ) at Baltimore

This could be Ray Lewis' final game; he announced Wednesday his plan to end his 17-year career that certainly should land him in the Hall of Fame.

There are much better ways to finish than chasing around the Colts' offense, which will be a difficult chore for the Ravens' defense. With Lewis sidelined for nearly three months with a triceps injury and Terrell Suggs not resembling the Defensive Player of the Year he was in 2011 as he plays while still recovering from an Achilles tendon injury, Baltimore can't count on shutting down opponents.

In previous seasons when the Ravens were a defensive power, Andrew Luck might be reduced to an overmatched rookie. Not now.

UPSET SPECIAL: COLTS, 23-17

Cincinnati (plus 5) at Houston

The Texans stumbled into the playoffs, losing three of four and blowing home-field advantage and a bye in the AFC. Cincinnati, on the other hand, won seven of its last eight with a staunch defense.

Houston made the postseason for the first time last year and promptly knocked off the Bengals in the wild-card round. Both teams are improved this season, and the key could be which side protects its quarterback better. Houston has J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith providing pressure on the quarterbacks. For Cincinnati, it's Geno Atkins and Michael Johnson.

Houston will do it better.

TEXANS, 24-20

Seattle (minus 1 1/2) at Washington

The juiciest of the weekend's matchups features two streaking teams: Washington won its final seven games to take the NFC East, Seattle took its last five and seven of eight.

Rookie quarterbacks Robert Griffin III for the Redskins and Russell Wilson for the Seahawks have been sensational, like Indy's Luck. RG3 showed enough mobility in the win over Dallas to clinch the division, and his knee should be even stronger on Sunday to provide the double-threat potential that highlights his game.

Wilson is healthy and has similar skills. Even more encouraging for him is the Seahawks have an intimidating, resourceful defense with the speed to slow down Washington's offense. Seattle also has learned how to win on the road.

SEAHAWKS, 23-16

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2012 RECORD:

Against spread: 7-6 (112-124-7). Straight up: 12-4 (159-92-1)

Best Bet: 7-8-2 against spread, 11-6 straight up.

Upset special: 11-6 against spread, 9-8 straight up.

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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With Ravens winning, T-shirt look fits John Harbaugh to a tee

With Ravens winning, T-shirt look fits John Harbaugh to a tee

The Ravens are unbeaten (3-0), including their last two victories with coach John Harbaugh wearing a gray T-shirt on the sidelines. The casual look has been good to Harbaugh, who had never worn a t-shirt on the sidelines until this season.

Does that mean Harbaugh will stick with the T-shirt look until the Ravens lose? Harbaugh said Monday that he wasn’t sure, because he was not superstitious.

“I’m superstitious about not being superstitious,” said Harbaugh. “I think it’s really important not to be superstitious.”

Harbaugh said that Ravens equipment manager Tommy Wood would have the gray T-shirt washed and ready if Harbaugh wanted to wear it for Sunday’s upcoming home game against the Raiders (2-1).

“He (Wood) said, ‘We’re saving this one,’’’ Harbaugh said. “So it will be laundered up and ready to go next week, I guess.”

If the Ravens keep winning, and the weather turns cold, Harbaugh knows wearing a T-shirt on the sidelines could be a problem. He laughed when asked if he would consider wearing a T-shirt Dec. 12 for the Ravens’ game at New England.

“I don’t like being cold,” Harbaugh said. “If that T-shirt can stretch and fit over a parka or something like that, then we might have a chance.”

MORE RAVENS: Jernigan becoming consistent force for Ravens

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Fantasy Football: Week 4 Waiver Wire

Fantasy Football: Week 4 Waiver Wire

Three weeks of the NFL Fantasy Football season are in the books. The fourth comes with a twist: Here come the bye weeks. Now, here come the free agent options.

QUARTERBACKS

— Because Aaron Rodgers is on a bye or you don't love Eli Manning at the Vikings

1. Joe Flacco, Baltimore – No amazing street options this week, but Flacco has some hope with a home matchup against a Raiders defense allowing the fourth-most points to fantasy QBs. Maybe angry Steve Smith will show and carry the day.

2. Dak Prescott, Dallas – The Cowboys face a 49ers defense that allowed six touchdown passes over the last two weeks. Trusting a rookie to produce two weeks in a row is historically dicey, but maybe Prescott, who put up good points against Chicago in Week 3, can do just that.

3. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia – The impressive rookie cannot help owners in Week 3 with Philadelphia off, but Wentz looks more and more like a viable quarterback-by-committee option.

Others: Trevor Siemian (at Bucs), Brian Hoyer (vs. Lions)

— You can drop Tyrod Taylor - Until Sammy Watkins is active AND truly healthy, the Bills don't have enough weapons to make owners feel good using Taylor.

RUNNING BACKS

— Because Eddie Lacy and the Eagles options are off and Jeremy Langford's ankle situation has you spooked and somebody grabbed Cameron Artis-Payne already

1. Jordan Howard, Chicago – Faces a Lions defense that has allowed 115.5 rush yards over the last two games and does with Jeremy Langford expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain. Owners can spend at least 1/3 of their auction budget and more for those in RB hell. Good chance Howard, who had 92 total yards on 13 touches in Week 3, keeps the job if he produces.

2. Kenneth Dixon, Baltimore – This goes out for those seeking depth. Dixon is due back soon from a preseason injury. When he does, the rookie should move quickly into the mix and then some for a backfield not getting the job done. At all.

3. Dwayne Washington, Detroit – Chicago has allowed at least one rushing TD in every game this season. Washington received 10 carries in his expanded role last week.

Others for Week 4: Orleans Darkwa, NY Giants; Kenyan Drake, Miami; Jay Ajayi, Miami

Others for stashing purposes: Wendell Smallwood, Philadelphia; Dion Lewis, New England

WIDE RECEIVERS

— Because no Jordy Nelson or Jordan Matthews this week and injuries to Sammy Watkins an Willie Snead are not cool, man

1. Terrelle Pryor, Cleveland – The new "Slash" and the Browns best weapon. Crazy to think the Redskins could consider having Josh Norman shadow shadow the QB-turned-WR around. That Pryor will be given a shot to make plays with hands, feet and arm is the real intrigue.

2. Michael Thomas, New Orleans – No Willie Snead, no problem for the Saints on Monday night. San Diego has allowed 410 yards to fantasy receivers the last two weeks.

3. Jamison Crowder, Washington – The Redskins have plenty of playmaking receivers and it's time to realize Crowder is one of them. Touchdowns in back-to-back weeks, Kirk Cousins trusts him an he leads Washington in receptions and targets.

Others: Cole Beasley, Dallas (PPR), Quincy Enuwna, NY Jets; Steve Smith, Baltimore; Adam Humphries, Tampa Bay; Chris Hogan, New England; 

TIGHT ENDS

— Because you can't trust Rob Gronkowski will really play and Zach Ertz, Jared Cook are on a bye.

1. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota – The connection with Sam Bradford looks legit. Went 7-70-1 against Carolina after finding the end zone the previous week.

2. Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay – In the Bucs first game without Austin Seferian-Jenkins meant lots of work for Brate. Ten targets is something. Catching five of those throws for 46 yards and touchdown is something else.

Others: Zach Miller, Chicago; Hunter Henry, Tennessee

DEFENSES 

— Because you stream this position

Likely available options in Week 4 – Redskins (vs. Browns), Jets (vs. Seahawks)