Our first week of the NFL playoffs is in the books and it was about as interesting as a Barack Obama Final Four bracket. The favorites won and covered all the way down the line. It does set up the best possible divisional round of playoff match ups and we’ll take a look at them.
First, it’s interesting, to me at least, that every single one of these games is a rematch from a game earlier in the season. That can’t be too common in today’s NFL.
Seattle at Atlanta (-4.5, 51 O/U)
This is a rematch from Oct. 17 that the Seahawks won 25-24 at CenturyLink Field. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan carved up Seattle in that game to the tune of 335 yards and three touchdowns with a pick. Russell Wilson was efficient, and more importantly, a winner, throwing for 270 yards. Christine Michael, who is a Green Bay Packer now, ran for two touchdowns for the Seahawks.
— Dan Quinn (@FalconsDQ) January 8, 2017
This was the famous Sherman meltdown game where he came to the sideline after the defense gave up a crazy touchdown to Julio Jones, tossed his helmet, and had to be restrained from fighting his fellow defensive players and maybe his defensive coordinator. We’ll see if that comes into play Saturday afternoon.
Houston at New England (-16, 44.5 O/U)
This game opened with the Patriots a -14.5 favorite and even that wasn’t enough. After millions of dollars continued to pile on New England, the line moved to -16 and that’s probably where it will stay since it’s already one of the five biggest spreads in NFL playoff history. It’s been 18 years since there was a 16-point favorite in the playoffs with the 1998 Minnesota Vikings enjoying that cushion against the Arizona Cardinals.
#Patriots vs. Texans.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 8, 2017
This game is a rematch of the late September game that should have gotten Bill O’Brien fired on the spot. O’Brien was so thoroughly out-coached and out-prepared in that game, Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels beat his team 27-0 with rookie Jacoby Brissett at quarterback.
It’s been a long season since then and the Texans come in with a more dominating defense ranked No. 1 in the league. Too bad nobody thinks it will matter at all.
Pittsburgh at Kansas City (-2, 45 O/U)
I’m not sure if the Chiefs had the possibility of this game circled in anticipation, or with dread, but here it is. These two teams first matched up, if you could call it that, back on Oct. 3 at Heinze Field. The Steelers absolutely destroyed the Chiefs in that game, 43-14 and put up 22 points in the first quarter.
Ben Reothlisberger threw five touchdowns, Le’Veon Bell rushed for 144 yards and Antonio Brown caught two touchdowns.
And the Chiefs? Well, I’m sure they got some nice coupons to use at the concession stand.
— z-Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) January 9, 2017
The game is at Arrowhead this time and the Chiefs are 6-2 there this year. Plus, not a lot of teams really got going until about six weeks into the season, so it would be a mistake to take too much from that first match up.
The winner of this game will be our only hope of keeping the Patriots out of the Super Bowl, so Godspeed to whichever team takes the victory.
Green Bay at Dallas (-4.5, 52 O/U)
This game was originally played on Oct. 17 and was the official end of Tony Romo’s career with the Dallas Cowboys. Rookie QB Dak Prescott had led the Cowboys to a 4-1 start but everybody had this game underlined. It was on the road in Green Bay, a notoriously tough place to play, against the Packers and Aaron Rodgers.
All Prescott did was lead Dallas to a 30-16 victory, passing for 247 yards and three touchdowns.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) January 9, 2017
This game is, of course, in Arlington and the Cowboys are 7-1 at home this season. Their only home loss was in Week One to the New York Giants and that’s just because Terrence Williams didn’t run out of bounds.
Green Bay comes in hot this time. They’ve won seven straight games after Sunday night’s wild card victory and even exorcised their New York Giants problem in the process. The Pack took a while to get going, but once they did, Rodgers finished with 362 yards and four touchdowns with no picks. The only bad news to come out of the game was significant, with Jordy Nelson injuring his ribs after a hard hit on the sidelines. His status for Sunday’s game is up in the air.
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