Last week, I went 3-1 losing the one game I thought for sure was going to be a winner. While the one flyer I took turned into the best bet. This week, we have 4 games, all of which carry some type of intriguing story. Let’s take a deeper look.
Atlanta @ +3 Philadelphia: The Eagles come in to the game with the NFC’s best record and if they would have had Carson Wentz, Philly likely would be big favorites. Instead, Foles is leading this team and because of that, they Eagles are 3 point dogs… at home. The whole underdog thing for a number 1 seed is a League first. It has not happened before, for obvious reasons. And being a 3 point dog at home means that Vegas thinks that Atlanta is actually going to win by 6.
To add insult to injury, the Falcons are 1-3 in Philadelphia. So not only does Vegas not respect Nick Foles, they disrespect him enough to ignore history.
The Eagles defense is good, actually real good. But Matt Ryan is throwing the ball to the best wide out in the NFC in Julio Jones. Not to mention the fact that the Falcons are trying to redeem themselves from a very disappointing regular season. If you flip the card, the Falcons defense is good enough to hold the Eagles in check with Foles at the helm. I am not convinced he will even finish the game as a starter. The Winner in this game is Atlanta 26-11. So yeah… they cover.
Tennessee @ -13.5 New England: Marcus Mariota brought his team back from the brink against a coach and team that is so snakebitten in the playoffs that it is actually hard to comprehend. With that said, the Patriots defense is okay, not great. But they are good enough to handle this offense. ON the other side, The Titans defense is good enough to keep them in the game.
The Titans miss DeMarco Murray and his ability to run the ball effectively and consistently. Mariota can not do what he did last week against this Patriots team. Also, if the Patriots get out to a big lead, the game is over and there will be no big comebacks. With that said, I think the Patriots cover but it stays close. Meaning it’s within a touchdown until the last few minutes when the Pats extend the lead out to 14. The final score, Patriots 24-10.
Jacksonville @ -7 Pittsburgh: I think most people believe this will be close because of the Jags defense. I think Ben has been thinking about this rematch for a while. In his first go around with the Jaguars, he threw 5 picks and afterwards he contemplated retirement out loud for the media to feast on. Of course, we find out later that Ben was just being Ben and embracing or creating the drama that he so strives for.
Speaking of Drama, Le’Veon Bell was interviewed by ESPN and when asked how he would respond to having the franchise tag on him next year, he said that he would consider retiring if that happens. Bell is looking to get paid and feels he is important enough of a piece to warrant big dollars. He should be reminded that this is the only season thus far in his career that he played the whole season. Bell has struggled with failed drug tests and injuries over the past several years.
Although the Jags have a great defense the Steelers offense is talented and healthy enough to exploit them. Blake Bortles proved last week he can not throw in the wind. Actually last weekend made me question if he can throw at all. Then this week when asked about it, Bortles explained that he would rather not throw that much which is exactly not what you want to hear from your QB going into the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Couple that with the fact that I think the Steelers are angry enough to win in a big way.
Although it is going to be cold, the cold is rarely a factors in games at this level and I don’t believe it will be a case this weekend either. Jacksonville will be able to handle the cold of Pittsburgh but not the Steelers. The final score, Steelers roll 27-10.
New Orleans @ -5 Minnesota: I think the Vikings have the best all around team in the NFC coming into the playoffs. They have the most complete team and that includes journeyman quarterback Case Keenum. The Vikings QB has played very well this season.
Drew Brees and the Saints though, are not going down without a fight and I would expect one hell of a dog fight this Sunday. The Saints achilles heal is their defense. Their defense is suspect at times and I think this will be one of those times. I believe the Vikings win and cover, final score 27-16.