Divisional Round
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NFL: Divisional Round – Saturday


Last week, we had the obvious happen. There were four home teams that all won by double digits and blitzed their way from Wildcard Weekend to the Divisional Round. Now those four teams play in what is considered as the best weekend in football. It’s time for the last two-day week in the NFL season this year. Today we’ll be going over the two Saturday games as the Seattle Seahawks fly to Atlanta to face the Falcons and the Houston Texans travel to New England to face the #1 seeded Patriots as we begin the 2017 NFL Playoffs Divisional Round.

 

Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons (-5)

The Atlanta Falcons have continued to prove people wrong all year. People thought the Carolina Panthers would win the division, the Falcons did. People thought the Carolina Panthers, or Arizona Cardinals, or even their opponents, the Seattle Seahawks would win one of the bye spots in the NFC, the Falcons did. And now people are saying there is no way the Falcons can make it to the Superbowl with their defense as currently constructed………. To be continued.

The Seattle Seahawks are coming off a pretty, solidly, easy win against the Detroit Lions last week. However, this week they are not at home, they are not playing a team on a three-game losing streak, and they are not playing against a team with zero running game. As good as the Seahawks looked last week, they must be two and three times better to beat the Falcons. Seattle RB Thomas Rawls may have to come near to 150 yards once again to not only keep Seattle balanced but to keep the high-powered Falcons offense off the field. Can he do it again?

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I think this will be a FG type of game. As with most playoff games, the turnovers will likely decide the winner. This is the game that will show how much the Seahawks miss their starting S Earl Thomas. The keys to this game will be the Seattle running game vs. an underwhelming Atlanta run defense and the Atlanta passing attack offense vs. a Seattle “Legion of Boom” pass defense that is usually the savior for the Seahawks. I trust Seattle QB Russell Wilson more than Atlanta QB Matt Ryan, but the home field could be enough to give the Falcons the edge, but as I said, this is a FG game either way.

Prediction: Atlanta 27, Seattle 24

 

Houston Texans at New England Patriots (-16)

The Saturday night game for the divisional round is a TV spot that seems to be set for the New England Patriots every year. Once again, they will be in the spotlight as the Texans come to town. New England QB Tom Brady, despite missing four games due to deflate-gate (hopefully the last time I ever type that), had a spectacular year. He averaged almost 300 passing yards per game and a ridiculous TD/INT ratio with 28 TDs and only 2 INTs. When you include New England RB LeGarrette Blount’s great year of over 1100 rushing yards and a league-leading 18 TDs, their offense is full throttle as they head into the playoffs.

The Houston Texans backed into the playoffs but got the lucky matchup of facing a rookie QB in his 1st career start. The Texans #1 ranked defense confused and had their way with Oakland QB Connor Cook last week. They won’t be so lucky this week. The Texans are not expected to win this game, by ANYONE, but one thing that always travels in the playoffs is a good defense and a good running game. This Texans team has both of those attributes. Their RB Lamar Miller has had a very good year and their defense, despite not have Mr. All Everything, JJ Watt, is still arguably the best defense in the league.

The Texans have already made it known that the almost unprecedented state of being a 16-point underdog in the divisional round is going to be part of their motivation on Saturday. They know that no one gives them a shot to win, but it’s that “Me against the World” mentality that will be their fire. I still thing no matter how motivated they are, the Patriots are going to win, but I think between having the #1 rated defense, and assuming they don’t quit if they get down early, I do think they will cover the 16-point spread. I am one of the few people that do not think this will be as easy as the oddsmakers are making it seem.

Prediction: New England 30, Houston 17

 

Last week there were four blowouts, this week, I expect to be much closer. With three games this weekend that can be legitimately pick-em games, it’s almost as if the playoffs don’t really start till now. This week is sure to show why so many people love the NFL, and football for that matter, for anyone that watched the NCAA Football National Championship Game. As for the one game that everyone expects to already know the result, this is the Texans chance to shock the world. If we played the games on paper, we would have a lot different Superbowl Champions, that’s why they play the game.


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