NFL Playoffs 2017: Divisional Round
Wildcard weekend in the 2017 NFL playoffs offered no surprises last week, as each home team led at the half and each home team went on to victory. Fans are hoping for a little shake-up this week and that generally means they’re hoping that somewhere an underdog will upset a home team favorite on the road. Let’s break it down and find out where to watch each game as we move toward the Super Bowl and I’ll throw in my predictions.
Steelers @ Chiefs (NBC, Sunday 1:05 PM, EST)
The first of two Sunday games in the 2017 NFL playoffs is almost too close to call. The Pittsburgh Steelers (12-5) will be travelling to take on AFC West Champs, The Kansas City Chiefs (12-4). The betting point spread favors The Chiefs by 1.5 points, which is the equivalent of no favorite at all. Steelers’ QB “Big” Ben Roethlisberger will be sporting a leg brace, but he’s no stranger to pain and the Pittsburgh defense seemed hungry to deliver painful hits and cause turnovers against Miami last week. Kansas City has had a week to rest and features solid QB Alex Smith and TE Travis Kelce along with an impressive defense of its own. The Chiefs look to avenge an early season loss to Pittsburgh and though your guess is as good as mine on this one, I’m taking the Steelers and their star running back Le’Veon Bell to upset on the road, 31-24.
Texans @ Patriots (CBS, Saturday 8:15 PM, EST)
Pundits are unequivocally unanimous on this one and the point spread favors The New England Patriots(12-4) by 16 over the visiting Houston Texans (10-7). Houston was shutout and embarrassed by the Patriots earlier in the season 27-0 at Gillette Stadium during Tom Brady’s four game suspension, and even if the Pats, as Heavy.com wonders, “simplify their game plan by relying on RB LeGarrette Blount to grind down the Texans’ defense”, New England wins this game easily. I wonder if the Texans could defy odds…and beat the spread? New England wins 38-17.
Seahawks @ Falcons (FOX, Saturday 4:35 PM, EST)
The battle of the birds, yet another rematch between conference rivals in the NFC should prove to be just the competitive slug-fest match-up we crave in the 2017 NFL Divisional Playoffs. Earlier in the season, the The Atlanta Falcons(11-5) came within one play of upsetting The Seattle Seahawks(11-5-1) at home. Betting odds have the Falcons winning by 5, and Atlanta deep threat WR Julio Jones finding a weakness against Seahawks’ CB Richard Sherman and the Seattle defense, but I’m going out on another limb here and taking Seattle QB Russell Wilson and the post season experience of their coach, Pete Carroll to upset Atlanta on the road, in overtime, 27-24.
Packers @ Cowboys (FOX, Sunday 4:40 PM, EST)
Everyone seems to either think or hope that this will be the “game of games” match-up this weekend and justifiably so. The Dallas Cowboys(13-3) have been the biggest story in the NFL 2016 season with two rookie sensations, QB Dak Prescott (23 TDs, 4 INTs) and RB Ezekiel Elliott (1,631 YDS, 15 TDs) lighting up and surprising defenses around the league. Staying consistent for weeks now, the Cowboys have long been a favorite to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LI, but they’re about to come up against one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now, and the 2017 playoffs are a far cry from the regular season. After falling to a 4-6 record a few months ago, The Green Bay Packers(11-6) were inspired by QB Aaron Rogers bold post-game prediction that the Pack were going to run the table, and they’ve done just that. Winners of their last 7 games including last week’s defeat of the Giants, Green Bay is hoping to travel to Dallas and spoil the hopes of their fairy tale season. The Cowboys are favored by 4.5 points among bookies and I’m going to agree in my prediction, that Rogers’ luck runs out in Texas. I’m taking the Cowboys, 30-17.
Enjoy the games, and leave your predictions in the comment section below.
[Featured Image By Lynne Sladky/AP Images]