And then there were eight…which means 75% of the NFL teams are settling into their off-seasons having been eliminated from this year’s Super Bowl chase.
What we have this weekend are three very attractive divisional round match ups and what looks like a mismatch with New England a 16-point home favorite against quarterback wanting Houston.
Last week, I went 4-for-4 on my picks with all four home teams winning in the wildcard round (the year before all four home teams lost). Here’s my best guess at this weekend’s games.
SEATTLE (11-5-1) AT ATLANTA (11-5) FOX 4:35
Seattle is trying to get to the Super Bowl for the third time in four years. Pete Carroll is 9-4 in the playoffs and Russell Wilson 8-3. They haven’t been as dominant as some of the recent Seattle teams but last week Thomas Rawls rushed for a franchise postseason-record 161 yards in their 26-6 win over the Lions. Falcons QB Matt Ryan has never been better and should be the league’s MVP, skeptics will tell you that the ninth year QB has only won 1-post-season game. Atlanta’s Vic Beasley Jr. led the league with 15.5 sacks.
Pick: Atlanta 27-23
HOUSTON (10-7) AT NEW ENGLAND (14-2) CBS 8:15
Yes, the Texans whipped the Raiders last week 27-14 and you’re right the Texans have the top ranked defense in the NFL but Vegas says their chances are slim and none and that’s why New England is about a 16 point favorite. The Patriots beat the Texans 27-0 in week 3 and they did it with rookie third team QB Jacoby Brissett. This time it’ll be Tom Brady against Brock Osweiler. All teams that qualify for the playoffs are legit but if the Texans win at New England they get the Buster Douglas award.
Pick: New England 34-14
PITTSBURGH (12-5) at KANSAS CITY (12-4) NBC 1:05
The Steelers looked great in last week’s win over Miami but Big Ben has been horrible on the road at times this season. When they’re rolling the Steelers triplets of Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are the best in the game. Kansas City is a tough place to play and the Cheifs are +16 in turnover ratio this season. In October Roethlisberger threw 5 TD passes to lead the Steelers to a 43-14 rout of the Chiefs. I don’t think we’ll see a blowout this time.
Pick: Pittsburgh 24-20
GREEN BAY (11-6) AT DALLAS (13-3) Fox 4:40
The Cowboys are the NFC’s top seed lead by the NFL’s best offensive line and incredible rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, in mid-October the Cowboys won in Green Bay 30-16.Elliott led NFL with 1,631 rush yards, 3rd highest single-season total by a rookie in NFL history. Green Bay was down and out at 4-6, but Aaron Rodgers has led a revival and a 7-game win streak. During this stretch Rodgers has thrown 22 touchdowns without an interception. Green Bay will be without star receiver Jordy Nelson, but he missed most of last week’s game when Rodgers threw 4 TD passes in 38-13 win over the Giants.
Pick: Green Bay 30-24