Saturday 4:35 PM
Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons
In this weekends first student v. mentor match up, former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will take on his former boss Pete Carroll in what should be a very interesting game. Matt Ryan and the high octane Falcons offense will look to attack the “Legion of Boom” head on without star free safety Earl Thomas. Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and the two headed monster at running back, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, will lead the charge in unlocking the elite secondary and front seven of the Seahawks D. On defense, NFL sack leader Vic Beasley will be the key to containing Russell Wilson from breaking out of the pocket and making the big play.
The Seahawks will look to channel some of the offensive outburst they had last week against Detroit. Wilson will look to target number one receiver Doug Baldwin and newcomer Paul Richardson to keep the ball moving. This paired up with a strong performance from Thomas Rawls and the Seahawks could be looking at an upset. Defensively, Seattle just needs to keep doing what they have done all season, get to the quarterback, make him uncomfortable and let the talented secondary make plays.
Matt Ryan is 1-4 in his career in the playoffs, but that changes today.
Atlanta Falcons 27- Seattle Seahawks 24
Saturday 8:15 PM
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots
With what started as a 14.5 point margin, has now risen to 16 points in some Vegas spreads. With that being said, the Patriots are heavy favorites in this game. Student Bill O’Brien will be taking on his former mentor Bill Belichick in our second student v. teacher match up of the Divisional round. Belichick will take his league leading scoring defense into this playoff run with high hopes to get another Lombardi trophy. The Patriots offense featuring Tom Brady’s 28 TD’s- 2 INT’s ratio will make it tough on the Texans defense combined with an explosive running game with Legarette Blount.
The Texans come into this game with nothing to lose and a lot of knowledge of how the Patriots operate. Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel, Linebackers coach Mike Vrabel, and Special teams Coordinator Larry Izzo were members of the Patriots organization for many years. This knowledge could give Brock Osweiler some much needed knowledge after a disappointing performance earlier in the year in New England. For the Texans to have a chance, they need to unleash Deandre Hopkins on some deep routs and get to Brady early and often on defense and maybe, just maybe, they will have a shot.
It has happened before, but I don’t think this 14-2 New England team will lose in the Divisional round.
New England Patriots 34- Houston Texans 14
Sunday 4:40 PM
Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys
No quarterback in the NFL has played better than Aaron Rodgers these past few weeks. He has had time to sit in the pocket and diagnose everything about the defense. And when things break down, they go to their “backyard offense”. However, Rodgers will be missing his favorite target Jordy Nelson in Jerry’s World on Sunday. But Davante Adams and Randall Cobb should be enough to keep the Packers offense rolling. On the Defensive side, they need to find a way to get through Dallas’ excellent offensive line to slow down Ezekiel Elliott and force Dak Prescott to make some throws.
Dallas is coming into this game off of their best season in almost a decade, with two rookies at the helm. This is the only thing that would give me pause to say Dallas is a surefire winner in this football game. Their defense is much better than people give them credit for and you will see that this Sunday. If Dak can calm his nerves early, make a few throws here and there, and let Elliott do his thing, they can keep Rodgers off the field and come away with a long awaited playoff W for Jerry Jones and Co.
Elliott channels his Ohio State v. Alabama days and has himself a day leading the Boys to victory over the Pack.
Dallas Cowboys 24- Green Bay Packers 20
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs
Arrowhead Stadium is one of the loudest places to play in the NFL, which has given many teams problems communicating on offense. With this weather that delayed the game from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. (for the first time in NFL History for a playoff game) it could hurt the attendance. On top of that, the first round bye has been more of a curse for the Chiefs who are 0-3 in first round byes since the current format has been in place. However, Alex Smith along with Travis Kelce and Tyreke Hill should light up Arrowhead for a couple spectacular plays on Sunday. The Chiefs D has to capitalize on the Big Ben’s inability to hold onto the football and turn it into some points.
The Steelers need to keep doing what they’re doing on offense with the triple threat of Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell. If they can hold onto the ball on offense, they should have no trouble. Defensively, they need to contain Alex Smith because he is a sneaky good runner. Along with that, they need to keep Tyreke Hill and Travis Kelce from making big plays. They cannot play like they did last week and expect to win, they will need to step up big on D.
KC fans will brave the elements and Andy Reid, who’s teams are 16-2 coming off the bye, will find a way to semi contain Bell and AB, and sneak away to Foxboro for the AFC championship game.
Kansas City Chiefs 31- Pittsburgh Steelers 27