We didn’t see any surprises in the Wild Card round of the playoffs as all four favorites won and covers. Will that be the case once again in the Divisional Round? At least on paper, this weekend’s matchups should be far more competitive.
Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons
Odds: Falcons -4.5
The Seahawks and Falcons will rematch in the Division Round of the playoffs on Saturday. As you might recall, the Falcons were pretty angry with how the first matchup of the season when down when an egregious pass interference wasn’t called on Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman late in the game. It would have set up a potential game-winning field goal for the Falcons but instead, they lost 26-24.
The Falcons enter with the league’s No. 1 ranked offense, averaging just over 33 points per game. They have to turn this game into a shootout. If it’s a defensive struggle and the Seahawks are able to grind away yards on the ground and keep the Falcons offense on the sidelines, the Falcons might not advance.
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots
The Texans are the biggest playoff under since 1998 and it’s easy to see why: they lost 27-0 at New England earlier this season and that was when the Patriots were without Tom Brady. What’s going to happen now that he’s playing? The Texans didn’t even cross midfield until the second half.
The good news is that the Texans have the league’s No. 1 overall defense and allowed the fewest first downs this season. However, their offense is challenged and they’re going up against the defense that allowed the fewest points this season.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs
Odds: Chiefs -2
The Steelers embarrassed the Chiefs on Monday Night Football in Week 4 and there is no question that the Chiefs will be looking for some revenge. The Chiefs were trampled 43-14 while giving up five passing touchdowns to Ben Roethlisberger. However, that was on the road in Pittsburgh but now they get to host the Steelers.
Andy Reid’s teams are an impressive 16-2 following a bye week and are a perfect 3-0 in that role in the playoffs. We’ll see if that extra week off makes a difference for them.
Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys
Odds: Cowboys -4.5
Like each of the other three games we’ll see this weekend, the Packers-Cowboys affair is also a rematch. The Packers lost at home to Dallas in Week 5 but they are clearly a different team these days. That loss dropped them to 3-2 and started a stretch where they lost five of six. However, they enter this matchup on a seven-game winning streak.
Aaron Rodgers has been on fire for the Packers as he’s now thrown for four touchdowns and no interceptions in each of his last three games. The Cowboys best way to stop him will be to rely on their rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, who led the NFL in rushing, and their stalwart offensive line. If they can churn out yards and first downs, that means Rodgers will spend more time on the sidelines.