NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round

After a fairly predictable Wildcard Round, except for me obviously, we’re moving on to some juicy match-ups in the Divisional Round. Of course I am talking about Houston at New England. The game everyone wants to see! In all seriousness though, this round shapes up pretty well on paper. So let’s get to it!

Texans @ Patriots (Line: Patriots -15)

Wow, 15 points in the playoffs? That’s insane, but I guess earned. The Patriots killed the AFC this year (11-1, +167 PD), with the only loss coming to the Bills when Brady was out. This being the Patriots first playoff game, I have a feeling Brady wants to stamp this postseason with authority and run it up. For a spread this big I would typically suggest taking the Texans to at least cover, however, as I’ve mentioned a million times they’re a different team on the Road (2-6, -77 PD). I’m not seeing a cover here.

Steelers @ Chiefs (Line: Steelers +1.5)

This might be the toughest one of the weekend. I was all in on the Steelers since they’ve won eight straight. They match-up very well with the Chiefs in most categories (Home/Road, Outdoors, Conference) and have the run and pass threat. However, when Ben Roethlisberger shows up to the post-game press conference in a boot it’s a bit concerning. After taking all of that into account though, I think this comes down to coaching, and playoff experience, which is on the Steelers side in this one. It will most likely be close, but Steelers to the AFC Championship in a match-up that gets the NFL all kinds of worked up!

Seahawks @ Falcons (Line: Falcons -5)

Last week I picked a game on gut-feeling and it was a horrendous pick. However, this one I have history on my side. Seattle has irrational confidence after beating a poor playoff team. I’ve seen this time and time again watching the Lions. They have a good season, lose, and the team who beats them thinks they’re the 1972 Miami Dolphins. It doesn’t hurt the Falcons have beaten up big on the NFC this season (9-3, +124 PD), and the Seahawks haven’t been great on the Road (3-4-1, -29 PD) or against the conference (6-5-1, +37 PD) either.

While the Falcons Pass Defense isn’t stellar, their Passing game is incredible, and Earl Thomas is still out. I don’t want to ignore Dan Quinn’s contribution as well. While he’s been gone from Seattle for a couple seasons now, he has the Falcons rolling right now. I see it being close early, then the Falcons pulling away in the 3rd Quarter and taking it.

Packers @ Cowboys (Line: Dallas -4.5)

If it wasn’t for Big Ben’s bad foot, this would be the toughest one to pick, however, that doesn’t mean it’s any easier now. This comes down to will the young guys in Dallas be able to translate regular season success into playoff glory, or will the veteran Packers be able to show experience matters…wow, sounded like an ESPN teaser right there. There’s a couple factors to consider here.

The Packers will be without Jordie Nelson, his top and favorite Wide Receiver. Although, Randall Cobb had a big game, and brought back memories of his amazing play. Question is was that an aberration or is he back? He’ll definitely be getting more throws his way. I’ve gone back and forth on this all week, but I keep coming back to the Cowboys Offensive Line. The Packers were 31st in Pass Defense and 25th in Run Defense this season, and that does not sync well against an O-Line that’s helped two rookies become MVP candidates. I think the Cowboys win this one.

LOOKING FORWARD

While this round looks great on paper, there will be at least one or two surprises, there always is. Never underestimate the “No one believed in us” boost some teams seem to get, or an early injury that could change the whole game. Although, those are some mighty mountains to climb this time around.

If everything pans out the way I think, it will create a great Championship Round next weekend. While the NFL would rather have the Seahawks in the NFC Championship, I think Atlanta is one of those teams who could surprise people. As for the AFC, well Pittsburgh at New England will be a nauseating lead up for sure. Anyway, I look forward to going 1-3 this week.

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