Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons
Last week, the Seahawks had the benefit of playing at home vs one of the most overrated teams in the league with an overrated QB that was dealing with a finger injury. This time they travel to Atlanta (SEA is 9-8-1 SU & 7-10-1 ATS on the road since ’15) to play the best offense in the league on two weeks rest going against the Seahawks’ biggst weakness since week 11: the secondary. Two thirds of the world are covered by water, one third is covered by Earl Thomas. He is the single most important player of this defense and maybe the single most important defensive player in the league. He allows the Seahawks D to do what they have been doing the last couple years: playing cover 3. He makes his CBs look better than they are and he forces opposing offenses to not throw over the deep middle. Since he is injured, the Seahawks’ pass defense over L6 games: 29.5% DVOA, 7.3 YPPA. Both would rank bottom-5 over the whole season. Over that stretch they are the worst playoff team in terms of total pass DVOA. No Thomas, no party. The Falcons’ offense is going to exploit that throughout the game and they should somehow score at will in this game. I don’t see how Seattle keeps pace with the Falcons. People are praising the running game with Thomas Rawls back, but if the Falcons are up by 14 points in the second half, there isn’t going to be a running game for Seattle. But on the flip side, that’s a championship team with a very experienced coaching staff who you cannot count off. Final score prediction: ATL wins 34-24.
Houston Texans at New England Patriots
There isn’t a reason to believe the Texans are going to survive New England. But I also don’t believe it’s going to be a scoring fest. The Texans’ defense is for real and the Patriots aren’t going to move the ball easily without Gronk and Malcolm Mitchell. Last week the Texans defended the run pretty well against a much better rushing attack than NE has. Because of Connor Cook they were allowed to stack the box more than usually, but that front seven of Houston is going to have an advantage in the trenches vs New England’s offensive line. Texans’ offense is going to struggle mightily vs that Patriots defense that excels in run defense and should have the clear edge in the passing game over Brock Assweiler. I see both defenses slowing down the other side, that’s why I really like the under and won’t touch either side. Final score prediction: NE wins 24-9.
Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott has 16 career starts, Aaron Rodgers has 16 career playoff starts. But I think it won’t matter this time, because I see the Packers express being stopped. It was all on Rodgers during that winning streak. Jordy Nelson is a big loss for GB, but not because he creates space and can separate from opposing CBs. He can’t do that anymore. But he was a great target for Rodgers and he was able to catch the ball. Something the other GB receivers struggle with. The Cowboys defense is finally healthy and they play a pretty base 4-3 defense. They try to get pressure by sending 4 and let the other 7 defenders sit in zones. This is going to work against the Packers. The Cowboys offense is going to score a lot on that Packers D and I don’t believe Aaron Rodgers can do it all again to hang on with that limited offense. He needs another MAGIC day in order for the Packers to survive Dallas. That’s not impossible. Final score prediction: DAL wins 31-24.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs
That’s probably the worst weather conditions ever for a playoff game. Because of the weather, the game was flexed to SNF. I think it’s going to be a very tight game but I give the Steelers a slight edge here. The biggest’ problem for the Chiefs all season was stopping the run and now without Derrick Johnson, they are going to have a tough day stopping Le’Veon Bell, because against PIT you always have to account for precise passes. The Chiefs offense on the other side scored just 20.7 PPG (#16) and really isn’t anything special. The way the Chiefs have been winning many games is by creating key turnovers and special teams help. There was a stretch when they went 4-1 by scoring just 15.1 PPG on offense. I don’t think that’s going to be enough vs the Steelers. Steelers won’t punt and kick towards Tyreek Hill and the Steelers’ defense is a bit underrated IMO. They have been getting better as the season went on. Andy Reid is like 19-2 SU off a bye in his coaching career? While I respect that a lot, he goes against a coach that couldn’t be more differently than Reid. In a playoff game with everything on the line, when you need ballsy decisions, I gonna give the edge to Mike Tomlin and an offense that can execute much better than KC’s. Final score prediction: PIT wins 24-17.