The Red Shamrock: Do The Divisional Matchups Have Room For Upsets?
Not a whole heck of a lot of drama in last week’s Wild Card round. Yours truly went 3-1 against the spread (betting with my heart with the Dolphins in Pittsburgh). Did I mention by Sunday the line had jumped to Steelers -13 and your humble columnist bet the Phins? At least I made it up on Monday night with a Clemson cover and outright win for the National Championship over Alabama (suck on that Nick Sabin)! Queue superimposed Crying Jordan on Nick Saban’s face.
Back to the NFL playoffs, things went the only way they really could, with every home team winning. Houston destroyed a quarterbackless Oakland team that would have most likely moved on if Derek Carr played. The Seahawks put Matthew Stafford out of his misery, ditto with the Steelers and Miami and Odell Beckham Jr., and the Giant’s receiving corps have only themselves to blame in the Packers dismantling of the Giants.
Again, all the home teams rolled, so can we expect to see some sort of upset in the Divisional Round? Time to make some picks that will surely go wrong.
NFC (3) Seattle @ (2) ATLANTA (-5), Saturday, January 14th, 4:30 PM FOX
Fun fact I discovered researching this game from the Interweb: Seattle has never won a road playoff game as an underdog. Is Seattle the underdog this Saturday? You betcha.
Falcons QB Matt Ryan is your most likely NFL MVP (according to all the speculation) and Atlanta is the top or near the top of every offensive category in the league this year (38.5 points per game). Atlanta gets it done through the air, and with no Earl Thomas to shore up that Seahawk pass defense, Seattle could be in a whole heap of trouble this year. While Seattle should be able to rush the ball effectively against a poor Flacons run defense, they will have to abandon the run if the Falcons score early (which they should) and often (which they could).
The Red Shamrock’s Pick: Atlanta -5
AFC (4) Houston (-15.5) @ (1) NEW ENGLAND, Saturday, January 14th, 8:00 PM CBS
Member when the Brady led Patriots put a beatdown on the Texans in week 3 (27-0)? You don’t? That’s because Jacoby Brissett was the QB for that game (Brady was on deflategate suspension). The Patriots have averaged wins by almost 15 points since that game and can crush you with run on bad to mediocre teams (potentially what they do in this game to work out some kinks for the AFC title game).
Houston does not have an all world quarterback in Brock Osweiler to keep pace with the Patriot machine and it took a 350 yard 3 thouchdown performance from Russell Wilson to defeat Tom Brady and the Pats. So everything I’m telling you tell you to lay the 15.5 and go with New England, right?
I’m pulling a Costanza and going opposite of what I think. 15.5 points is a hell of a lot for any team to cover. Miami almost came back and covered the 13.5 last week in Pittsburgh until the Moore crushing INT. I’m banking on the Patriots to get up by four scores and then lay off the gas pedal, allowing the Texans to potentially cover here. Don’t get me wrong, New England is winning this game, but there are just too many points to take with the visitors here.
The Red Shamrock’s Pick: Houston +15.5
AFC (3) Pittsburgh @ (2) Kansas City (-1.5), Sunday, January 15th, 1:00 PM NBC
Fun fact I discovered researching this game on the Interweb: Andy Reid is 16-2 SU (straight up) and 13-5 ATS (against the spread) after a bye week in the regular season and 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS after a bye week in the first round of the playoffs. BTW, the Steelers crushed the Chiefs when they met back in Week 4 (43-14). After watching the Steelers dismantling of Miami, you would think the Chiefs are in store for the same.
Pittsburg has also covered in their last four road games (that has contributed to their current 8 game win streak) while KC is 5-1 in their last six games. You can’t ignore the Steelers 5-3 ATS record on the road either, but KC is battle tested against some of the top teams this year (3-5 ATS at home, 6-2 SU). I’m scared of the red hot Steelers, but I think the Chiefs use their home field advantage as fuel to skate by and win a close one.
The Red Shamrock’s Pick: Kansas City -1.5
NFC (4) Green Bay @ (1) Dallas (-4.5), Sunday, January 15th, 4:30 PM FOX
Another regular season rematch although this time it will be played at Jerry World. In week 6, Dallas cruised in Green Bay 30 – 16 thanks to 157 yards rushing by Ezekiel Elliot. Stat that surprised me researching this game on the Interweb: the packers are one of eight teams that allowed less than 94 yards per game on the ground this year. That’s the key to this game for the Packers. Stop the run and force Dak Prescott into mistakes. The Packers are banged up after the Giants game with injuries to Randall Cobb (ankle), Jeff Janis (quadriceps), Jordy Nelson (entire body) and James Starks (concussion). If you are counting up the number of injured Green Bay wide recievers, that’s three. Aaron Rodgers will have a difficult time engineering points in this one and it just feels like it’s Dallas’ year to make it to the NFC title game.
The Red Shamrock’s Pick: Dallas -4.5
Picks (Home teams in CAPS)
KANSAS CITY -1.5
Last week: 3 – 1
2016 Playoff record: 3 – 1 (0.750)
2016 Regular season record: 126 – 119 – 11 (.512)
2016 Record (total): 129 – 120 – 11 (0.515)
Pat Himes aka The Red Shamrock is a huge fan of sports, movies, poker, and fake sports betting. He is also cohost of The 80/20 Movie Show podcast with Gary Smith, which you can listen to for guy humor, movie reviews, and additional fake sports betting picks at www.fatherhoodrules.com. You can interact with Pat on Chaostrophic by hitting him up on the comments section with him on the threads under his handle, Dalux247.