Round 1 of the NFL playoffs is in the books and my preseason Super Bowl projection is still in tact (Green Bay over Baltimore). With lots of hype surrounding this week of games, here are the picks.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
Saturday January 15 4:30 ET
Line: Steelers -3
Baltimore and Pittsburgh always play close games. The past eight contests between these two clubs were all decided by less than 10 points. Joe Flacco has never beaten Ben Roethlisberger; he’s 0-5 in his career, but I expect that to change this weekend.
Teams coming off of a road victory in the playoffs are 7-2 against the spread in Round 2. The Ravens have proved to be tough to beat on the road and it should be no different on Saturday.
Pick: Ravens (+3)
Baltimore Ravens 20, Pittsburgh Steelers 17
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons
Saturday January 15 8:00 ET
Line: Falcons -2.5
There are so many reasons to love Green Bay in this spot. New Orleans proved that Atlanta is not invincible at the Georgia Dome by beating the Falcons a few weeks back, so forget about home field advantage. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are on a tear while the Falcons could be cold having not played last weekend. Also well worth noting is that Aaron Rodgers has not lost a game by more than three points all season long.
The Packers are the better football team and more battle-tested coming into this game. Green Bay will be representing the NFC in the Super Bowl.
Pick: Packers (+2.5)
Green Bay Packers 27, Atlanta Falcons 21
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons
Sunday January 16 1:00 ET
Line: Bears -10
Despite Seattle’s convincing victory over the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints last weekend, they are still getting no respect. The Chicago Bears are one of the most overrated teams in the postseason. They have not been favored by double digits all season long yet they are expected to cover ten points in a playoff game? I’m not buying it.
Let’s consider a few things about this Chicago team. Quarterback Jay Cutler is making his first career playoff start and he’s doing so as a home favorite. Only one out of the past eleven quarterbacks in that scenario has covered the spread. Sticking with Jay Cutler, he has never covered a spread of -9 or more.
I have said all season long that the Bears are overrated and that you can’t trust Jay Cutler. This Sunday will be evidence of that. This game will be a lot closer than people think and I’m going with the Seahawks.
Pick: Seahawks (+10)
Seattle Seahawks 24, Bears 21
New York Jets at New England Patriots
Sunday January 16 4:30 ET
Line: Patriots -9
This is a very big spread for a playoff game, but Rex Ryan has been asking for it all week long. Ryan and the Jets continue to call out Tom Brady and the Patriots and that is never a good idea. Do you really want to bet against Tom Brady right now?
Pick: Patriots (-9)
New England Patriots 34, New York Jets 24