I know some people are thinking that maybe the “fix is in” for Dallas after last week’s ref-a-palooza against Detroit, but that represents 1970s thinking.
In the internet age, every team is America’s team. You can be a San Diego Chargers fan living in Morgantown, West Virginia and see every one of their games and even read all the stories about them in the San Jose Mercury News if you want.
Back in the day, there were only 2 or 3 games a week on TV and one of them was always Dallas. Ain’t like that no more son. And trust me, the Packers and their shiny quarterback and their funny cheeseheads are just as big a draw as the Cowboys and their mouthy wide receiver and their shiny silver helmets.
But on to the Divisional Round. After a shaky start in the Wildcard round, I came out OK, going 2-2 in game picks and 3-1 picking over/unders. My Sunday, in fact, was a perfect 4 for 4 on both games.
I said last week that you rarely see four home wins in the early rounds of the playoffs, but you might see that this week, I’m just not sure.
You’ve got Green Bay and Seattle who both hold massive home field advantages, you’ve got Denver who clearly outclasses the Colts, and you’ve got New England, who despite a turbulent playoff history vs. the Ravens are probably the most complete team in football.
Which one of these home favorites are you gonna bet against?!
Baltimore (+7) @New England o/u 48 (Westgate Superbook)
Is the line telling me something here? Why would the Pats be giving a whole touchdown to a team that bedevils them like Baltimore? I think New England can hold on for a win here, but I don’t think this game will be some high flying high scoring affair. I think New England’s strong secondary keeps the Ravens in check while the Ravens pass rush gets to Brady enough to keep him off balance. I like the Pats to win by a field goal or so, and the game to stay under the 48.
New England Patriots 24 Baltimore Ravens 20
Carolina (+11) @Seattle o/u 40 (Wynn Las Vegas)
I’ll put you on notice right now: I’m not picking against Seattle again this season unless and until they give me a reason to. So they’re winning the Super Bowl by whatever the spread is on that game plus a few more until someone knocks them off their pedestal. I know the Panthers have looked pretty good the last few weeks but they haven’t played anyone remotely close to the level they’ll face this week. Seattle’s defense will shut this team down.
Seattle Seahawks 28 Carolina Panthers 10
Dallas (+5.5) @Green Bay o/u 52.5 (MGM Mirage)
Is Aaron Rodgers healthy? That’s the big question here. In fact, we know Rodgers isn’t 100%, and will lack the mobility that distinguishes him from other elite quarterbacks. Neither of these defenses is up to the task of stopping their opponent, but Green Bay as a whole plays much better at home. For that reason, I think they’ll have enough to knock off the Cowboys and cover the 5.5. Because Rodgers is limited, I think the game stays under the 52.5. The other less glamorous matchup here is Jason Garrett v. Mike McCarthy, two typically over-matched coaches who will match (half) wits. One final note: every Eagles or Giants fan knows some weasely guy who’s a Cowboys fan, and I can tell you that one of my favorite moments of this NFL season will be the inevitable shot of Jerry Jones’ skybox with asshole Chris Christie looking all bummed out because the Cowboys lost.
Green Bay Packers 27 Dallas Cowboys 21
Indianapolis (+7) @Denver o/u 54 (Westgate Superbook)
I don’t get this whole “Peyton Manning is weak and old and sad and tired” line of malarkey. Manning will show you just how old and tired he is this weekend, when he lights up the Colts’ defense like nobody’s business. Andrew Luck will do his best to stay with Peyton, but the real difference in the Broncos this season is their defense, and that’s what tips the scales for them in this game. I’m not 100% sure I want to give 7, I’m pretty on the fence about that, but I do like the over in this game a fair amount.
Denver Broncos 34 Indianapolis Colts 24
Featured image via Tom Pennington/Getty