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AFC Divisional Round: Broncos, Patriots Sit as Odds Favorites

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The Denver Broncos will have Peyton Manning at the helm when they host the injury-riddled Pittsburgh Steelers in Sunday afternoon’s AFC Divisional Playoff matchup as 6.5-point betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Manning will be making his first start since being sidelined with a foot injury in a 29-13 loss to Kansas City back in Week 10.

The future Hall of Fame quarterback took over in relief of Brock Osweiler in Denver’s regular-season finale, leading the club to a 27-20 win over San Diego, and clinching the No. 1 seed in the conference heading into Sunday afternoon’s Steelers vs. Broncos betting matchup at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

The Broncos battled inconsistency down the stretch, winning just two of their last four contests, and have been a massive betting disappointment since early November, tallying just two ATS wins in their past nine games according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

Point production has been a major concern for Denver, who have scored 20 or fewer points in five of their past eight games but enter the postseason with the NFL’s leading defense, holding opponents to a stingy 283.1 total yards per game.

The Steelers head west after claiming an 18-16 Wild Card victory over Cincinnati, but at a high cost, with pivot Ben Roethlisberger and receiver Antonio Brown both suffering injuries.

The status of both remains questionable midweek, and has dramatically impacted the betting line for Sunday’s contest with the spread steadily moving in Denver’s favor after they opened as slim 2.5-point chalk. Pittsburgh came out on top with a 34-27 home victory over the Broncos in Week 15 but are 1-3 SU in their last four visits to Denver

In Saturday’s AFC Divisional Playoff matchup, the Kansas City Chiefs will be gunning for a 12th straight SU win when they visit the New England Patriots as 5.5-point betting underdogs.

The Chiefs are riding high following a stunning 30-0 rout of the Houston Texans on Wild Card Weekend, and will hit the gridiron at Gillette Stadium as betting underdogs for the first time in their last nine games.

The Patriots will be looking to halt the two-game SU losing skid that cost them the No. 1 seed in the conference. However, New England has proven to be a reliable bet at home this season, going a respectable 4-1-3 ATS, covering as big 14-point chalk in their last home contest, a 33-16 rout of the Tennessee Titans in Week 15.

Don Ohlmeyer, longtime network TV executive, dies at 72

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — Don Ohlmeyer, the “Monday Night Football” producer who came up with the phrase “Must See TV” in leading NBC to the No. 1 prime-time spot, died Sunday. He was 72.

“It is with heavy hearts we share that Don Ohlmeyer, our beloved husband, father and grandfather, has passed away at age of 72 due to cancer,” Ohlmeyer’s family said in a statement. “Surrounded by loved ones, he died peacefully at his home in Indian Wells.”

Longtime friend Al Michaels announced Ohlmeyer’s death while broadcasting NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” game between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.

Ohlmeyer won 16 Emmys, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, and two Peabody Awards.

Ohlmeyer became producer of “MNF” in 1972, teaming with director Chet Forte and the on-air crew of Howard Cosell, Don Meredith and Frank Gifford. In 2000 in his second “MNF” stint, Ohlmeyer put comedian Dennis Miller in the booth.

Ohlmeyer first worked for ABC Sports as a gofer while studying at Notre Dame and became a full-time production assistant in 1967 under Roone Arledge, working on “Wide World of Sports.” Along with his “Monday Night Football” work, he directed the network’s Olympic coverage and created “The Superstars.” Later at NBC Sports, he produced World Series and Super Bowl broadcasts.

After running his own Ohlmeyer Communications Company, he returned to NBC in 1993 as president of its entertainment division. He came up with “Must See TV” in the 1990s, when NBC’s rating soared with such hits as “Seinfeld,” ”Friends,” ”ER” and “Frasier.”

Watch Live: New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys on NBC

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The Dallas Cowboys host the New York Giants in a battle of NFC East rivals on Sunday Night Football.

Despite going 13-3 and earning the No. 1 seed in the playoffs last year, the Cowboys lost twice to the Giants in 2016, including a loss in Week 1. Dallas hopes to not have a repeat of last year and will rely on sophomores Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott to carry the load. Don’t be surprised if Elliott gets even more carries in this game because there is a possibility his six-game suspension is upheld and he will have plenty of time to rest up before he sees game action again.

The Giants will rely on their strong defense led by DB Landon Collins and DE Jason Pierre-Paul to try and get after Prescott and bottle up Elliott. On offense, New York is all about Eli Manning and the passing attack. Odell Beckham Jr. is expected to suit up, but it remains to be seen how big of a role he will have after injuring his ankle in the preseason. As a result, look for new additions WR Brandon Marshall and rookie TE Evan Engram, to go along with sophomore WR Sterling Shepard to step up for Manning.

Football Night in America

Start time: 7:00 p.m. ET

TV channel: NBC

Live stream: NBCSports.com, NBC Sports app

Giants vs. Cowboys

Start time: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV channel: NBC

Live stream: NBCSports.com, NBC Sports app