NFL Playoff Predictions: Picks Against the Spread for Every Divisional Game

James Brown@@chasingballgameSenior Analyst IJanuary 15, 2011

NFL Playoff Predictions: Picks Against the Spread for Every Divisional Game

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    FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 19:  Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots talks to his team during the fourth quarter of the game against the Green Bay Packers at Gillette Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots won th
    Elsa/Getty Images

    The NFL Divisional playoffs begin, and the teams that have a shot at the Super Bowl will be reduced to four.

    In the NFC, the Green bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons meet up in a Saturday night special, while the upstart Seattle Seahawks try to pull off another upset against the Chicago Bears.

    In the AFC, the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens in a bruising battle between two bitter rivals. In Foxboro, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots look to take the war of words against the New York Jets to the field.

    Here is a look at all four games with picks against the spread.

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

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    PITTSBURGH - NOVEMBER 21:  Troy Polamalu #43 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the ball after catching an interception against the Oakland Raiders during the game on November 21, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerh
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    The news broke last night that Ravens running back Ray Rice was vomiting at the team’s hotel and the latest line began to move.

    As of last check the online sportsbook Skybook have the Steelers listed as three point favorites at -125. Check on this line often as it is subject to change as recent news emerges.

    These two teams no each other inside and out so don’t expect any surprises. The Steelers have the edge in this contest for many reasons.

    Ray Rice will play, but he will not be 100 percent and this will take away from the Ravens short passing game.

    He is listed as probable on the injury report, but Safety Troy Polamalu will play in this game and he is the leader and the difference maker in this game.

    Although this series has been even over the years, the Ravens tend to win the games against the Steelers when Ben Roethlisberger is not in the lineup. Joe Flacco is just 2-5 against the Steelers and has never beaten them when Roethlisberger is under center.

    The Ravens are 2-5-1 against the spread (ATS) in their last eight games against the AFC North and 1-4-1 ATS in their last six meetings. The Steelers are 7-1 ATS in their last eight playoff games and 4-1 ATS in their last five Divisional Playoffs games.

    The Steelers get the win and advance to the AFC Championship game and cover the small number.

    Baltimore v. Pittsburgh Pick: Pittsburgh -3

    The weather will play a factor in this game as the forecast calls for one inch of snow during the game.

    More importantly the winds are expected to be blowing swiftly at about 15mph and will be coming in through the open end of the stadium.

    It is hard to kick field goals in Pittsburgh already and it just got worse. Points will be at a premium in this game.

    Bonus Pick: Under 37.5

Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons

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    SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 19:  Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons passes against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on December 19, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    On Saturday night the Green bay Packers travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons with the winner advancing to the NFC Championship game.

    While both teams are very talented, the Falcons seem to get no respect.

    This team had the most wins in the NFC and already beat Green Bay in the regular season. Matt Ryan is one of the most successful young quarterbacks in the league and has just lost twice at home in his career.

    That isn’t stopping the public from pouring money on the Green bay Packers. The line for the NFC Divisional Round game has plummeted from the Atlanta -2.5 all the way down to -1, as listed at Skybook on Saturday morning.

    The Green Bay Packers are talented, but despite a win last week in Philadelphia, they have struggled on the road. The Falcons can control the ball on offense with Ryan calling the shots. Tight End Tony Gonzalez will be a security blanket for Ryan when he can’t find the talented Roddy White.  

    The Falcons are 10-4 against the spread (ATS) in their last 14 games as a home favorite, 7-3 ATS in the last 10 games at home against a team with a winning record, and 7-1 ATS in the last eight games overall.

    The Falcons have been a money maker this year and that trend continues with a win on Saturday night.

    Green Bay v. Atlanta Pick: Atlanta -2.5

Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears

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    CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 28: Devin Hetser #23 of the Chicago Bears returns a kick against the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field on November 28, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Eagles 31-26. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Seattle Seahawks stunned the NFL world by upsetting the defending Super Bowl champions a week ago, and will try to pull off another upset this week in the Windy City when they face the Chicago Bears.

    Seattle slinger Matt Hasselbeck looked great against the Saints tossing four touchdowns and since the Seahawks already defeated the Bears in Chicago by the score of 23-20 it would seem like they have a chance in this game.

    The latest line on this game at Skybook would suggest otherwise as the Bears are listed as 10 point favorites.

    These teams are different when they met in October. The offense has improved drastically and Jay Cutler and the Bears will be able to move the ball against a suspect Seattle defense.

    The Bears have used the run more efficiently allowing better protection of the Cutler. Matt Forte is a deadly weapon out of the backfield and can break the big play. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has already said he will kick the ball to Devin Hester, instead of out of bounds. Bad move Pete.

    The Bears defense can tackle so don’t expect any great runs from Marshawn Lynch, which put the onus on Hasselbeck. This will allow the Bear defense to pin their ears back and go after him on nearly every play.

    When the Seahawks lose, they lose big. They lost nine games this year by an average of 21 points per game and the closest they got in those losses was 15 points.

    The Seahawks are 7-19 ATS in their last 26 games as a road underdog and 16-35-1 ATS in their last 52 road games. The Bears are 3-1-1 ATS in their last five games as a favorite and 6-2-1 ATS in the last nine games overall.

    The Seahawks are no match for the Bears and will get blown out in Chicago on Sunday.

    Seattle Seahawks v. Chicago Bears Pick: Bears -10

New York Jets at New England Patriots

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    FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 06:  Deion Branch #84 of the New England Patriots scores on a 25-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter against Antonio Cromartie #31 of the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 6, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (P
    Elsa/Getty Images

    These teams don’t like each other and this week leading up to the game it got personal. It started with Rex Ryan announcing that the game is about his coaching match up with Patriots wizard, Bill Belichick.

    Then it got downright nasty as Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie called Tom Brady a derogatory term adding fuel to an already blazing fire between these teams.

    Finally Wes Welker took subtle shots at Ryan in his press conference, which seemed to be big news, but what about the game on the field?

    The latest line for this game posted at Skybook is a bit of a surprise considering the level of talent on both sides of the field. That line might be more of an indication of the last meeting than the overall body of work for both teams.

    The teams split on the season, but the win by the Patriots on Monday Night Football stands out more since they crushed the Jets by the score of 45-3.

    The Patriots have the edge on offense because the quick receivers are hard to match up against. Cromartie is a tall and lanky defender that covers well on streaks and deep patterns, but struggles with the quick slants. If the Jets go to a zone, Brady will pick them apart with the short game top open deep patterns with the rookie tight end combination of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.

    Brady and the Patriots do not turn the ball over and this will put the pressure on Mark Sanchez to keep up.

    The Jets are 5-11-1 ATS in their last 17 meetings, and the home team is a perfect 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings. The Patriots are 35-16-1 ATS in their last 52 games as a favorite of 3.5-10.0 and will get the big win at home quieting the Jets sideline and intensifying the rivalry.

    New York Jets v. New England Patriots Pick: Patriots -9.5

    Matt Regaw is a B/R Featured Columnist and the founder of BookieBlitz.com, your one-stop shop for sports articles, previews and predictions. Feel free to contact Matt at mregaw@gmail.com.