I missed on the picks yesterday. Like I said, this week looks incredibly tough to predict. I was hoping to see a Peyton Manning vs. Aaron Rodgers Super Bowl. I think that’s the dream matchup all of us wanted to see this year. After last night, that’s out of the picture. I should have kept the Broncos (-2.5)/Patriots (-2.5) teaser alive, but the 70-yard bomb with 36 seconds left killed that ticket. How do you give up that play as a defense? I feel bad for Peyton. He wins 11 straight games, puts together a 13-3 season, secures home field advantage, and his defense blows the season in one play. If the Ravens are going to advance, they better win the AFC Championship next week. I do love the Ray Lewis story. Let’s get to Sunday’s picks.
Seattle Seahawks (+3) over ATLANTA FALCONS
I’m really torn here. I can see this game going either way. The Falcons are at home where Matt Ryan has been outstanding throughout his career, a 33-6 record and 8-0 this season. The Seahawks have been downright dangerous the last month of the season. The Seahawks could very well have the league’s best defense with a lethal combination of a strong pass rush from their entire front seven and the biggest and most physical secondary in the NFL. However, Chris Clemons, their top pass rusher is out for the season after tearing his ACL last week.
The Seahawks still have the edge defensively over the Falcons and have the better running game with BEAST MODE Marshawn “PutDaTeamOnMyBack” Lynch. I have faith in the Seahawks corners to contain Roddy White and Julio Jones while the front seven limits the Falcons run game. In the playoffs, it’s all about defense and the running game and Seattle has the edge in both. Do your thing Marshawn Lynch — get your Skittles ready!
To give the Falcons some respect here, their defense has also been strong at home. They held the Giants to 0, Bucs to 17, Saints to 13, Dallas to 13, and Denver to 21. Those are very impressive home performance against strong offenses. However, I’m still feeling the Seahawks.
PICK: Seahawks +3 (Confidence: 6/10)
PREDICTION: Seahawks 24 – Falcons 20
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-9.5) over Houston Texans
The public is split here 50/50, which is somewhat surprising. I thought about 65% of the public would be going with the Patriots after they shellacked the Texans 42-14 on December 10th. The Patriots offense has been able to impose their will on every team they’ve faced — they’re a machine. The Texans will need to play a near perfect game to even keep this one close. The Texans offense has just been missing the last month including last week against the Bengals.
I’m not expecting a beat down like last game, but I’m confident in the Patriots winning by two scores. If you’re not sold on laying the points, I would look to tease the line to Patriots (-2.5)/over 41. The Texans face the same problem they did last game in that they cannot play from behind. In order for them to have a chance in this game, they need to draw first blood with a TD.
If the Patriots pull off an early lead, the Texans will have to abandon their running game and that will be disastrous for them. If the Patriots start off this game with a 14-0 lead, the Texans might as well just throw in the towel. If the Texans go up 7-0 to start the game, the pressure will be off their defense, and the Texans can try to control the clock with the running game and keep Brady off the field. That’s the only way I see them having a a chance in this game.
This year in the playoffs, the Patriots will benefit from a stronger running game and defense that have been missing over the last few years. Brady is also working with a healthy Gronk and Hernandez. I just don’t think the Texans can stop him with all of the weapons at his disposal.
PICK: Patriots -9.5 (Confidence: 6/10)
TEASER PICK: Patriots -2.5/Over 41 (Confidence: 8/10)
PREDICTION: Patriots 34 – Texans 20