By: S. Davis
The NFL “Divisional Playoff” has always sounded stupid so I’m over calling it that. Moving on…
Seattle @ Atlanta
Will the Seahawks be able to score enough if the Falcons get up 10-14 points out of the starting gate? They can. Their defense is good enough to hold the fort and hand Russell Wilson a few extra possessions to close the gap just based on will. Yet I feel the Falcons will move the ball along the sidelines and exploit the middle of the field. Why? Earl Thomas is a weapon that won’t be able to play – and he’s great at limiting open seams and space in all areas of the playing field.
The Falcons have been the league’s top offense because of underrated line play, Matt Ryan spreading the ball to all targets and that guy named Julio Jones. Along with Antonio Brown and Jordy Nelson (when healthy), I like Jones against ANY defensive back; I don’t care what name is on the back of their jersey. Period. His speed, strength, route running and hands are among the best at this position. Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor are among the elite defenders on the planet and they aren’t enough to limit Jones (and his other receivers) without Thomas.
The Seahawks have been the best team in the NFC for the last three years but they fall this weekend.
Pick: Falcons over Seahawks, 30-21.
Houston @ New England
Unless Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus have the game of their lives – and Tom Brady somehow throws 37 straight interceptions this contest will end in an avalanche of points for the Patriots. Brock Osweiler needs to get his team to, at least, 28 points to keep the game from being over after the opening kickoff.
Dion Lewis is going to blow them up on a wheel route – or four.
Pick: Patriots over Texans, 36-19.
Green Bay @ Dallas
The Cowboys’ kiddie corps are up against their biggest test to date. Dallas is the most complete team of the two; they are better on offense, defense and special teams but the Packers have Aaron Rodgers. You may have heard of the guy, no?
All season I’ve aired my concerns about the Packers’ defense – and how they fail to support the offense. I still feel that way and it was the main reason I went with the Giants last weekend. I don’t apologize for the pick at all. Rodgers can carry the team on his own but how much is too much? Julius Peppers is going to have to cause chaos in order to make up for the shortcomings of the rest of the defensive unit.
If the Cowboys play how they have all season, they take the Packers down.
Pick: Cowboys over Packers, 23-20.
Pittsburgh @ Kansas City
All year, the offensive line of the Steelers has been stellar. They allow the extra time for Ben Roethlisberger to do Big Ben things and destroy teams covering his receivers for four seconds too long. I’m going to be on the look out for the short yardage situations when the Steelers hold the ball. Le’Veon Bell is set to have another masterpiece of a game but can the Chiefs’ defensive line make him wait too long for openings to develop in the run game?
If the Chiefs can execute long drives that end in touchdowns instead of field goals, they can put the pressure on the Steelers to force plays. Roethlisberger is one of the best quarterbacks in the league but his play this season has been uneven and he can be goaded into putting the ball in terrible spots.
Pick: It’s going to be a clooooose one but I’ll take the Steelers over the Chiefs, 24-20.
Last Week: 3-1
Regular Season: 169-87