Gambler's Corner: Jags and Chargers set for Wild Card weekend

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The Independent Online

What better way to blow away the festive cobwebs than to embrace the FA Cup third round with its history and romance? Unfortunately the bookies know that since 1996, the trophy has been passed like a parcel between Arsenal (currently 5-1 totesport), Chelsea (4-1 Ladbrokes), Liverpool (6-1 Ladbrokes) and Manchester United (9-2 Ladbrokes).

The Big Four have deep squads and none of their managers dare disdain a trophy. But Chelsea and Arsenal are embroiled in the League Cup, while Manchester covet the Champions League most. So try Liverpool, for whom this could soon be the only winnable trophy. Also risk a fiver on Aston Villa, who face United today 33-1 at totesport, they won't be if they edge the Mancs.

In America, it's the NFL's Wild Card weekend. Play-offs look futile given the New England Patriots' perfect season they won all 16 games and have the Super Bowl at their mercy. But Jacksonville and San Diego are in form. The free-scoring Jags (10-13 Ladbrokes) should beat Pittsburgh, while the rampant Chargers (2-9) can topple the visiting Titans.

It's trickier in the NFC, with the tough Giants (5-4) capable of winning at Tampa Bay, given their 7-1 'on the road' record, while Washington (13-8), determined to honour murdered player Sean Taylor, could put Seattle to sleep.

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