The Falcons easily covered the spread last week, winning by 16 points over the Seahawks in my first bet of the Divisional Playoff round. My second bet was the Texans +16 and it looked very good for the majority of the game, but the Pats ended up securing a late field goal to jump from a 15 to 18 point lead and just barely cover the spread over the Texans. That 1-1 week brings my playoff record to 1-3 and my overall NFL record this year to 27-16-2.
We have two great games this coming Sunday and I’ll break down both and give my pick below.
Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons
- Green Bay +3.5
- Atlanta -3.5
The Packers showed a lot of heart in that game with the Cowboys, building a big lead early only to have it evaporate into a tied 28-28 ball game late in the fourth. Rogers was able to continue to move the ball against the Cowboys defense in those critical moments though and Mason Crosby hit 2 massive 50+ yard field goals (really 3 if you count the one he was iced on) to send the Packers to this game.
That was a huge win for the Packers, but it came at a cost with Damarious Randall injuring his foot, which depletes this already depleted and weak Packers secondary. Going into the dome in Atlanta you need your secondary to be at peak performance and that simply won’t be the case for the Packers this weekend. The Falcons are continuing to tear up opposing defenses as they showed once again by putting up 36 points against the Seahawks this past weekend.
I expect the Falcons to be able to almost score at will against the Packers this Sunday and it will take a Herculean effort for Aaron Rodgers to keep pace in this game. As good as Rodgers has been playing I think the Falcons will be able to slow him down just enough to win this game by a score of something like 42-31.
Get your bets in on the Falcons at this spread early in the week because I expect the line to shift to closer to -5.5 by kick off on Sunday.
Play: Falcons -3.5
Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots
- Pittsburgh +6
- New England -6
If Tom Brady has a bad game and the Pats still put up 34 points and win by 18 against one of the better defenses in the league you know what kind of expectations this Patriots team have right now. I do expect Brady to bounce back with a big game against the Steelers this week. According to FootballOutsiders.com despite having a fairly strong secondary, especially later in the season, the Steelers are 32nd in the league against opposing WR1’s and 19th DVOA against running backs through the air. I think this could be a big game for both Julien Edelman and Dion Lewis through the air and both players are currently playing extremely well, so I fully expect them to take advantage of the opportunity.
Big Ben has struggled on the road all season long and the fact that the Steelers had to rely on 6 field goals (0 touchdowns) to defeat the Chiefs this past Sunday doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence in this offense heading to New England. I’ll tell you right now, the Steelers will not win this game if they don’t find the end zone at Gillette Stadium.
Both of these teams are riding 7 game winning streak after closing out the season in impressive fashion, but I still have to side with the Pats to get the job done at home and book their place in the Super Bowl. I have more confidence in Tom Brady at home than Ben Roethlisberger on the road and even without Gronkowski the Pats still have a wider variety of weapons with which to attack this Steelers defense. I like the Pats to cover.
Play: Patriots -6