Saturday, January 14
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons (-4.5)
NB: Seattle Seahawks. I’ve been on the record for a few weeks that Seattle is still the dark horse in the NFC. Do you trust Russell Wilson or Matt Ryan in the playoffs? History will tell you to go with Wilson. I am confident Thomas Rawls and the rushing game can have another good game against a porous Falcons rush defense. This will take pressure of off Wilson and help keep the explosive Falcons’ offense off the field. On the other side, Ryan, Julio, and company will still get theirs, but I expect the Legion of Boom to play bend, not break defense. They will make enough stops to give the Seattle offense a chance to win. Rusty will take advantage of that to get Seattle back to the NFC Championship. Seattle Seahawks 27. Atlanta Falcons 24.
RH:Seattle Seahawks. I would love to see this matchup if Earl Thomas was healthy, but we will just have to settle for an elite offense against an elite-ish defense. The Falcons averaged 33.8 points per game this season which is tied for the seventh best mark in league history. They are freaking scary. The Seahawks defense is still good and should be able to keep Atlanta below that 33 point average. Matty Ice hasn’t exactly been the best playoff quarterback we’ve seen (1-4 record, 9 td’s, 7 int’s), but I think he’ll be good enough in this one. Atlanta Falcons 24. Seattle Seahawks 20.
Houston Texans at New England Patriots (-15.5)
NB: Houston Texans. The Patriots will definitely win this game (put the money line into all of your parlays), but Houston will keep this a little bit closer than everyone is expecting. JaDeveon Clowney and the Texans’ defense are very good and will make Tom Brady uncomfortable all night. We have seen that recipe be successful in the playoff in past with the Broncos and Giants against the Patriots. Now the Texans are not those two teams, but they can do some of those same things up front and keep the game from getting out of hand. The problem will be that the Texans will have plenty of trouble scoring. Brock Osweiler will struggle and the Pats will advance. New England Patriots 24. Houston Texans 13.
RH: New England Patriots. Three of our four games this weekend should be a really good watch, this unfortunately is that fourth game. There really isn’t a lot to say here, The Patriots beat the Texans 27-0 in Week 3 on a short week and with Jacoby Brissett under center. I can only imagine what New England could with two weeks of rest before this game and Tom Brady calling the shots. New England Patriots 34. Houston Texans 10.
Sunday, January 15
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs (-2)
NB: Pittsburgh Steelers. This was the toughest game on the slate to pick this week. Hence the tight line. To me, it comes down to the fact that I don’t trust Alex Smith to take his game to the next level in the playoffs. The Chiefs rely too much on big plays from Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. If those are neutralized, then what will Smith do? The running game has been average and their other receivers are below average. On the other hand, a hobbled Big Ben has uber studs Le’veon Bell and Antonio Brown to take some pressure of him. Even if the Chiefs focus on shutting down AB, Le’veon Bell will get his either by running the ball or by check downs. This will neutralized the Chiefs’ pass rush and put them on their heels. Ben will then make just enough plays to move on to New England next week. Pittsburgh Steelers 24. Kansas City Chiefs 23.
RH:Kansas City Chiefs. I’m not completely ignoring the 43-14 thrashing of KC that Pittsburgh handed down back in Week 5, but these are two different teams now. Big Ben has been banged up for three months now and the Chiefs have an improved defense plus the playmaking ability of Tyreek Hill. The Steelers also had real issues on the roads this season as their only real offensive road explosion this season was back in Week 1 against Washington. Kansas City Chiefs 20. Pittsburgh Steelers 17.
Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys (-4.5)
NB: Dallas Cowboys. Everyone seems quick to forget just how dominating the Cowboys were all season. The real MVP of the league, the Dallas offensive line, destroyed opponents and allowed Dak, Zeke, and the rest of the playmakers to flourish. They will be rested and ready to roll on Sunday. The Packers’ defense is still vulnerable and Dallas should be able to do whatever they want when they have the ball for 35-40 minutes of the game. Yes, Aaron Rodgers is red hot right now and looks invincible. The Packers will put up some points on offense (Vegas does have the over/under at over 50 points), but without a hail mary or complete breakdown by the Cowboys defense, I don’t think it will be enough. Big D keeps their dream season going. Dallas Cowboys 30. Green Bay Packers 21.
RH: Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers and company are on fire and have a similar look to when they won it all back in 2010. On the other sideline the Cowboys present the biggest threat to a team like Green Bay as they can control the clock and keep Rodgers on the sideline. Both teams have dynamic, unstoppable offenses and both teams have borderline terrible defenses. The best defensive player in this game is Clay Matthews who as we saw last week still has it. Matthews makes the game changing play in what has the makings of a classic. Green Bay Packers 34. Dallas Cowboys 31.
Regular Season Record:
-Nick Bair & Randy Haines
Odds according to Westgate Las Vegas
Photo credit: Arrowhead Addict