My hunt for an 11-0 post-season was looking good right up until DeSean Jackson messed up at the 1 yard line. Again. After that the nerves grew and the Green Bay offense started clicking. Still, a 3-1 performance against the spread is no mean feat in the wildcard round. Kansas City quickly destroyed Houston, the Bengals defense smashed their way to a cover and then gave up the win and the bitter cold in the Vikings-Seahawks game kept everything nice and close. Looking forward to the Divisional Round we have 3 replays from the regular season and one match-up that should terrify every Patriots fan after what happened last year. So let’s get straight into it… Lines are from William Hill and the home teams are in capitals
Kansas City Chiefs (+5) over NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
The Chiefs have everything they need to put the hurt on New England; A great pass rush, good running attack, safeties and linebackers who can cover tight ends, and big physical cornerbacks. That recipe is what lead them to a 41-14 win over New England last season and had people questioning if Tom Brady the quarterback he used to be. They hurried and harassed Brady in that game from every possible angle, and that was with Nate Solder in at left tackle who won’t be there on Saturday. Knile Davis and Jamaal Charles combined or 199 yards on the ground and while Charles won’t be playing the Chiefs have maintained a strong rushing attack all season without him. The Patriots have made it easy to be pessimistic about them recently, having lost 4 of the last 6 and seemingly powerless on offense in the last 2 games, they’ll have Julian Edelman back and hopefully a healthier Gronkowksi and Amendola but with the terrible injuries across the offensive line this year I can’t see the Patriots holding out for long against a very strong Chiefs front. Brady will be battered and bruised again and the Chiefs are a legitimate threat to win this game never mind cover a +5.
Rest of the Picks
ARIZONA CARDINALS (-7) over Green Bay Packers
You shouldn’t pick this line just because of the extremely one sided outcome when these two played a few weeks ago. But that beat down is pretty hard to forget about. Arizona absolutely obliterated the Green Bay offensive line and there’s no white knight riding in to protect Aaron Rodgers this time, it will still be JC Tretter at left tackle trying to stop Dwight Freeney raining down spin moves and destruction. It will still be Calais Campbell ripping his way through the interior and laying out everyone in his path. For as much as the Green Bay offense clicked against Washington they are not this Arizona defense, with Deone Buccanon roaming the interior and Patrick Peterson locking up receivers. Sure, the loss of Tyrann Mathieu hurts the variation and surprises James Bettcher can throw at Rodgers but they still have plenty in the tank on both sides of the ball to win this one by more than a touchdown.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (-1) over Seattle Seahawks
This line opened at Panthers -3 and has swung to the Seahawks due to the amount of money coming in on Seattle over the course of the week. So obviously the contrarian in me is picking the Panthers. I would have taken the Seahawks at +3 because this game is invariably going to be close, these two teams are as close to mirror images as you can get. But with it now being effectively a pick ‘em I’m throwing in my lot with the home team and hoping it’s Cam who pulls a big play out of his arse and not Wilson this week.
DENVER BRONCOS (-7.5) over Pittsburgh Steelers
This line opened at Steelers +7 and I jumped on it straight away. Then the news about Big Ben’s shoulder injury came out, the line came off the books and I felt like a lemon. Still, a gimpy Roethlisberger or Landry Jones could do good things with these receivers so I wasn’t feeling too bad. Right up until the news broke that Antonio Brown will be out. Now I’m firmly on the Denver side of the ball. Sure, Peyton Manning hasn’t generated a whole lot of offense this year but with the state of Pittsburgh’s offense now he might only need 17 points to cover this line. Last week: 3-1-0 (0-1-0) Regular Season: 130-117-9 (26-24-1)